Book Review: Hip Hop & Hymns


Mawunyo Gbogbo is a church-going African Australian girl growing up in the sleepy mining town of Muswellbrook, NSW. At home, her parents argue all the time, and sibling rivalry runs deep. At primary school, Black Is Beautiful until a racist bully dares to tell her otherwise. But at high school, she falls in love with two things that will alter the course of her adult life: the seductive thrill of hip hop music and charismatic bad boy Tyce Carrington. Tyce also feels like an alien in Australia, despite his Aboriginality – or because of it.

When Mawunyo’s offered a chance to further her budding media career in New York City at the Bible of hip hop, The Source magazine, she throws herself headlong into the city’s heady buzz and hustle – but even as it lures her in, it threatens to derail her dreams.


Such a terrific memoir! Dwelling well on what it means to be an African Australian woman, Mawunyo Gbogbo shares how while growing up in the sleepy mining town of Muswellbrook, NSW, she has carved her special way of figuring out the world around her. Hip Hop & Hymns is equal parts heartbreaking and inspiring. It is one of those books that make you wonder how the world is still not kind enough to the black race. 

We’re often not fully aware of the preventative actions we should take to handle the curveballs, and Gbogbo is no exception to the rule. In Hip Hop & Hymns- Mawunyo examines how she could become the person she is today after covering life’s hiccups. She speaks about her disordered eating, wrong relationships, overt racism, precancerous cell diagnosis, mental health struggles and more in great detail. You might want to give up at some point, but that term is not in Mawunyo’s dictionary. She vowed to fix her life and honoured all of it.

She truly embodies that you fall seven times and get up eight. Today Mawunyo has carved a successful career in journalism. She is a music and pop culture reporter for Double J and ABC News. Well, if you read the first fifty pages of her book, you’ll realise how she isn’t an ordinary woman, and she so deserves the success she enjoys today. She has a voice, and she knows really well how to put it to good use. 

The final verdict is that Hip Hop & Hymns will linger long after you’ve finished it. I highly recommend you add this to your TBR pile. 

Hip Hop and Hymns was published on 31st May 2022 by Penguin Books Australia. You can purchase the book here.

TitleHip Hop & Hymns
AuthorMawunyo Gbogbo
PublisherPenguin Books Australia
List Price34.99 AUD

To read our interview with the author Mawunyo Gbogbo, click here.