A few weeks ago, half asleep and in search of coffee, I stumbled upon Red, Yellow, Blue (and a Dash of White, Too!) at my local bookstore. Better than the strongest triple espresso, C.G. Esperanza’s dynamic debut was like a straight shot of pure adrenaline. A true feast for the senses, the first thing I thought while flipping through the pages of this book was Basquiat after a Skittle binge.
There is a level of confidence to Esperanza’s style that is unique for a debut author–his control of the page is such that he is unafraid to loosen the reins and let the colors run a little wild. The result is thrilling and hypnotic.
After I finally got my coffee, I jumped online to find more information on Esperanza and came upon this interview in Afropunk where he called picture books the new hip hop:
“Picture Books are the new hip hop!” This is a realization I had come to a while ago as I began to write the manuscript for what would become my upcoming debut picture book “Red, Yellow, Blue and a dash of white too!” My name is Charles George Esperanza. I am originally from the South Bronx, NY. Based on my work, many would label me as a children’s book artist and author. But I consider myself to be the original “Visual Emcee”. You might feel referring to picture books as a new form of hip hop is a bold and perhaps incredulous statement. But as Rakim would say, “Follow me into a solo, get in the flow and you can picture it like a photo”.
Having boldly staked his claim as the field’s first Visual Emcee, I decided to invite Esperanza play DJ and asked him for a children’s lit/picture book themed playlist. He kindly obliged and went even further by including a special performance of his own book. The man is all kinds of talented.
So without further ado, let me turn it over to C.G. Esperanza (aka DJ Elebooyah).
(Disclaimer: Some Explicit Content)
THE NEW HIP HOP: A Picture Book Playlist by C.G. Esperanza
2. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak / Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See by Busta Rhymes
4. Humpty Dumpty by Mother Goose / The Humpty Dance by Digital Underground
5. James and the Rain by Karla Kuskin, ill. Reg Cartwright / The Rain by Missy Elliot
6. The Gingerbread Man / Can’t Touch This by MC Hammer
8. Nana in the City by Lauren Castillo / South Bronx Subway Rap by Grandmaster Caz
10. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst, ill. Ray Cruz / The Breaks by Kurtis Blow
Bonus Track: Special Performance of Red, Yellow, Blue (and a Dash of White, Too!) by C.G. Esperanza