“Ladies First: Revelations of a Strong Woman” by Queen Latifah

In her first book, rap star-turned-actress Queen Latifah, candidly writes about her steady rise to fame, her close-knit family and and how she treated her grief with alcohol and drugs after her brother died in a motorcycle accident. At 173 very short pages (the type is huge and the margins generous), readers are entertained and, to a certain extent, enlightened. But they never get the feeling that they have gotten to know the artist.

“Rhyme & Reason”

Peter Spirer’s documentary “Rhyme & Reason” widens the focus on hip-hop, presenting it as a lifestyle that happens to include music. And by allowing the artists to narrate the piece, director Spirer manages to captivate viewers without glorifying or vilifying the controversial art form.