As someone who is currently studying this subject, I have found Toop's book invaluable as a document of hip hop's early years. It helped to arouse my interest in the subject to begin with and I continue to use it (as inspiration for my own writing). The style which the author employs, that of a part- fan of theculture and part-serious scholar is a difficult one to attempt, but appears to me the only way. The book never puts the male artists involved on a pedastal (he was one of the first writers to deal with women's role in hip hop) but does not allow for stuffy academic writing to cramp his style. This allows an exuberance in the writing which I feel has been missing in many books subsequently written on the subject. In truth, readers should be aware of the fact that the follow up to this was basically the same book with additional chapters. Of course, fifteen years on from when it was first published, it shows its age, but if it didn't that would mean that hip hop had remained stagnant. I still enjoy reading the electro-funk chapter which has added resonance today. This book can be viewed as both a useful document of the past, but also a relic to a hip hop culture that has long since faded into memory. In some ways I recommend this book more than the more recent version (published in 1991), as writers such as Tricia Rose have contributed more detailed and useful analyses of hip hop music post-1984. However, as a starting point to an understanding of hip hop's roots and "underground" years, this is as good as it gets.
Having bought this edition which was known as "The Rapattack: African Jive to New York Hip Hop", back 1985, it is still a good read for anyone who may have casual interest or fans of Hip Hop. The book covers artist as Millie Jackson, Solomon Burke,Joe Tex to James Brown. David Toop's book covers legendary clubs such as the Danceteria, The Roxy, Audubon Ballroom and many others. All the early players back then are included this book, so well worth getting hold of.