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AMC’s Love Affair With Texas Continues With ‘The Rap Yearbook’

Houston writer Shea Serrano’s ’Rap Yearbook’ gets the docu-series treatment, produced by The Roots and Academy Award-winning documentarian Alex Gibney.

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Abrams Books

Shea Serrano’s had a very good past couple years. The insightful Houston writer’s thoughts on music and sports elevated him to one of the premier voices on ESPN’s much-missed Grantland, and when that site ran its course, he jumped ship to its successor, The Ringer, and put out bestseller The Rap Yearbook. (Read our interview with him about the book and Houston hip-hop here.) But even after that trajectory, Serrano didn’t expect his book, which he initially thought sounded “super f—ing boring,” to become an AMC documentary series produced by Questlove and Black Thought of the Roots and Oscar-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney.

It’s good news for Serrano—and for hip-hop fans whose appetite for documentaries was whetted this summer by HBO’s The Defiant Ones (which chronicled the partnership between Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine), or Apple’s Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: The Bad Boy Story. The book goes year by year through rap history, identifying the most important song of each year in the opinion of Serrano and his consulted experts, highlighting the way that rap grew and evolved. The book spends a lot of time bouncing between the coasts, but it also heads down to Texas to showcase the importance of UGK, which means that we’re counting it as another example of AMC’s obsession with Texas.

Texas is also a subject that Gibney’s intimately familiar with. His first Academy Award nomination came for Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room, and The Armstrong Lie attempted to explain the downward spiral of Lance Armstrong. In 2015, he paired with another Texas writer, Lawrence Wright, for the HBO documentary Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, which won three Emmys. Still, Gibney—who is partnering with producer Stacey Offman—has done music docs on Jimi Hendrix and Felt Kuti, so The Rap Yearbook isn’t outside of his impressive wheelhouse.

With as potent a pair of producers as Gibney and Offman, authoritative hip-hop experts Questlove and Black Thought, plus Serrano’s unique, insightful perspective as the source material—The Rap Yearbook has a lot of potential. And we won’t have to wait too long to see what the final product ends up looking like—AMC’s already announced a 2018 premier date for the six-episode series.

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