The New Hip Hop: A Picture Book Playlist by C.G. Esperanza

This content contains affiliate links. When you buy through these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Minh Le

Staff Writer

Minh is the author of Let Me Finish! a debut picture book that will be published by Disney-Hyperion in 2016. By day he works in early childhood policy and in 2010 helped design 826DC‘s Museum of Unnatural History (the only place you can both support youth creative writing and get your daily supply of unicorn tears). He also writes about children’s lit at Bottom Shelf Books and occasionally for the Huffington Post and others. Follow him on Twitter @bottomshelfbks.

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.

Red Yellow Blue

Red, Yellow, Blue (and a Dash of White, Too!) by C.G. Esperanza (Sky Pony Press)

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)

c.g. esperanza

I consider myself to be the original “Visual Emcee”


THE NEW HIP HOP: A Picture Book Playlist by C.G. Esperanza

1. Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss / Jump by Kriss Kross

2. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak / Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See by Busta Rhymes


3. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle / All You Can Eat by The Fat Boys

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

7. Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown / Shimmy Shimmy Ya by ODB

8. Nana in the City by Lauren Castillo / South Bronx Subway Rap by Grandmaster Caz


9. The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss / (You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party) by the Beastie Boys

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

red yellow blue dunk