Adam Bradley is a scholar of African American literature and a writer on black popular culture. His commentary has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal as well as on PBS, NPR, and C‐SPAN.
Adam is the author or editor of several books, including Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop, The Anthology of Rap, Ralph Ellison’s Three Days Before the Shooting..., and Ralph Ellison in Progress. Most recently, he collaborated with the rapper and actor Common on Common’s memoir, One Day It’ll All Make Sense.
Presently Adam is at work on several projects, including a book exploring the poetics of popular song. What unites Adam’s work is his belief that the most powerful cultural expressions are equally the product of tradition and innovation. This vernacular process of fusing the inherited or even the imposed with the imagined helps explain the beauty we find in everything from a classical symphony to a gutbucket blues, from an epic poem to a rap freestyle.
Adam’s work has garnered significant attention from scholars, critics, and readers alike. The New England Book Festival, the San Francisco Book Festival, and the Book of the Year Awards all honored The Anthology of Rap as one of the best anthologies of 2010. Both New York magazine and the Village Voice named it a Best Book of the Year. Three Days Before the Shooting. . . was named a Book to Watch For by Oprah’s O Magazine, a Best Book of 2010 by The Root, and one of the year’s best works of outsider fiction by NPR.
Adam was born in Salt Lake City, Utah and was home‐schooled by his grandparents until high school. He earned his BA at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, where he began working on Ralph Ellison's papers as a nineteen-year-old assistant to Ellison's literary executor, John Callahan. Adam earned his Ph. D. in English from Harvard University, studying with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Cornel West. He is currently an associate professor of English at the University of Colorado, Boulder where he teaches courses in African American literature and culture. He lives in Boulder with his wife and daughter.