Known as the School of Hard Knocks, the streets serve as the heart of hip-hop, where trends are born and the true talent shines. And although many of hip-hop's earliest pioneers may not have been afforded the opportunity of pursuing higher education, knowledge of self and their surroundings has always been part of the process. Over time, hip-hop has grown from what many once wrote off as a local fad into a global phenomenon, with people from around the world participating and learning about the culture.

While the mainstream press was hesitant to embrace hip-hop during the 1980s, the 1990s saw the genre grab the attention of the media and middle America alike. Publications like Rolling Stone and Entertainment Weekly had no choice but to embrace the culture. By the turn of the millennium, books centered around hip-hop and the players in it was the norm, with rappers being seen as modern philosophers and poets. Universities also began to notice the power of hip-hop and its educational values, resulting in a string of college courses related to artists such as Tupac Shakur, Nas and Rakim, and other facets of the culture.

However, while much attention has been paid to the books that document the lives of artists and how their works and hip-hop itself has influenced literature, little is spoken of the literary works that have influenced and informed the lives of the rappers themselves. From The Four Agreements (Joey Bada$$' favorite) to The 48 Laws of Power (50 Cent's go-to read) and more, XXL highlights 10 critically-acclaimed books that have impacted the way your favorite rappers live, think and how they view the world.