For people interested in hip-hop, either fans or people actually willing to undo their ignorance, finding good literature to explain hip-hop can be quite a challenge. I often check libraries and bookstores for any works on hip-hop, and the quantity and quality has been improving in the last few years. However, most most works on hip-hop fall into two categories: instant books meant to cash in on the popularity of the most recent hot band, or overly academic tomes by people with no affection for hip-hop, where they deconstruct the postmodernistic narrative of hip-hop, etc.
Global Noise, published in 2001, is an academic book, but is full of useful information. The book consists of 13 chapters, dealing with hip-hop outside of the United States, with chapters dedicated to France, Great Britain, Germany, Bulgaria, The Netherlands, among the Basques, Italy, Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Even the most basic information about hip-hop scenes in foreign countries is interesting, but some of the writers (each chapter is written by a separate writer) have very interesting insights. What is of particular interest is that hip-hop in other countries has many of the same patterns of growth and inner conflicts that American hip-hop has. In most countries, hip-hop was first transmitted through pop culture, with breakdancing or rapping being quick fads in the early 80s, transmitted in many cases because for some foreign youths, anything that came from America was automatically "cool". Along the way, various groups adopted hip-hop: in many foreign countries, ethnic minorities are the main proponents, while in others, hip-hop has been absorbed into dance and club music, and in others, hip-hop has been adopted as the music of the bourgeoisie intellectuals. In many countries these trends have existed in sequence, or at the same time, either peacefully or not. People who follow the United States hip-hop scene will find most of these issues familiar.
While the book has valuable information, and for the most part presents it in a good manner, it does suffer from a number of flaws. One of them that it was written by a number of authors, each of whom had very different projects in mind. The chapters on rap in Bulgaria, for example, is a brief survey, without too much analysis. The chapter on Basque hip-hop covers just one band, a militant punk band that adopted hip-hop for a period. The chapter on Italy, on the other hand, is one of the best written in the book. The authors also take different tones, with some of them writing fairly straightforward descriptions, while others drench their articles in academic jargon. The academic jargon brings us to the second problem: while the book is much closer to hip-hop than many such books, it still at many times is full of modern academic jargon, and the detached disrespect that that entails. While not everyone agrees that you have to "feel the vibe" and "keep it real" to understand or explain hip-hop, I still feel that as with any subject, you have to enter into it a little to present a fair picture.
With all that being said, this book is still on the still small bibliography of hip-hop books that is worth being read.