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Tracing the careers of hip-hop's three most dynamic stars, this deeply reported history brilliantly examines the entrepreneurial genius of the first musician tycoons: Diddy, Dr. Dre, and Jay-Z.
Being successful musicians was simply never enough for the three kings of hip-hop. Diddy, Dr. Dre, and Jay-Z lifted themselves from childhood adversity into tycoon territory, amassing levels of fame and wealth that not only outshone all other contemporary hip-hop artists, but with a combined net worth of well over $2 billion made them the three richest American musicians, period.
Yet their fortunes have little to do with selling their own albums: between Diddy's Ciroc vodka, Dre's $3 billion sale of his Beats headphones to Apple, and Jay-Z's Tidal streaming service and other assets, these artists have transcended pop music fame to become lifestyle icons and moguls.
Hip-hop is no longer just a musical genre; it's become a way of life that encompasses fashion, film, food, drink, sports, electronics and more -- one that has opened new paths to profit and to critical and commercial acclaim. Thanks in large part to the Three Kings -- who all started their own record labels and released classic albums before moving on to become multifaceted businessmen -- hip-hop has been transformed from a genre spawned in poverty into a truly global multibillion-dollar industry.
These men are the modern embodiment of the American Dream, but their stories as great thinkers and entrepreneurs have yet to be told in full. Based on a decade of reporting, and interviews with more than 100 sources including hip-hop pioneers Russell Simmons and Fab 5 Freddy; new-breed executives like former Def Jam chief Kevin Liles and venture capitalist Troy Carter; and stars from Swizz Beatz to Shaquille O'Neal, 3 Kings tells the fascinating story of the rise and rise of the three most influential musicians in America.
by Tricia Rose
How hip hop shapes our conversations about race -- and how race influences our consideration of hip hop
Hip hop is a distinctive form of black art in America-from Tupac to the Pulitzer Prize-winning Kendrick Lamar, hip hop has long given voice to the African American experience. As scholar and cultural critic Tricia Rose argues, hip hop, in fact, has become one of the primary ways we talk about race in the United States.
But hip hop is in crisis. For years, the most commercially successful hip hop has become increasingly saturated with caricatures of black gangstas, thugs, pimps, and hos. This both represents and feeds a problem in black American culture. Or does it? In The Hip-Hop Wars, Rose explores the most crucial issues underlying the polarized claims on each side of the debate: Does hip hop cause violence, or merely reflect a violent ghetto culture? Is hip hop sexist, or are its detractors simply anti-sex? Does the portrayal of black culture in hip hop undermine black advancement?
A potent exploration of a divisive and important subject, The Hip Hop Wars concludes with a call for the regalvanization of the progressive and creative heart of hip hop. What Rose calls for is not a sanitized vision of the form, but one that more accurately reflects a much richer space of culture, politics, anger, and yes, sex, than the current ubiquitous images in sound and video currently provide.
THE SEQUEL TO THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER WHATEVER YOU SAY I AM, CHRONICLING THE PAST TWENTY YEARS OF RAPPER EMINEM'S LIFE, BASED ON EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS WITH THE ARTIST, HIS FRIENDS, AND ASSOCIATES"A passionate look at the Detroit rapper's music . . . an expert and thoughtful assessment." - Booklist In 1999, a former dishwasher from Detroit named Marshall Bruce Mathers III became the most controversial and polarizing musical artist in the world. He was an outlier, a white artist creating viable art in a black medium, telling stories with such verbal dexterity, nimble wit, and shocking honesty that his music and persona resonated universally. In short, Eminem changed the landscape of pop culture as we knew it. In 2006, at the height of his fame and one of the biggest-selling artists in music history, Eminem all but disappeared. Beset by nonstop controversy, bewildering international fame, a debilitating drug problem, and personal tragedy, he became reclusive, withdrawing to his Detroit-area compound. He struggled with weight gain and an addiction to prescription pills that nearly took his life. Over the next five years, Eminem got sober, relapsed, then finally got and stayed clean with the help of his unlikely friend and supporter, Elton John. He then triumphantly returned to a very different landscape, yet continued his streak of number one albums and multiplatinum singles.Not Afraid picks up where rock journalist Anthony Bozza's bestselling Whatever You Say I Am left off. Capturing Eminem's toughest years in his own words, as well the insights of his closest friends and creative collaborators, this book chronicles the musical, personal, and spiritual growth of one of hip-hop's most enduring and enigmatic figures.
Acclaimed for his writings on Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as his passionate defense of black youth culture, Michael Eric Dyson has emerged as the leading African American intellectual of his generation. Now Dyson turns his attention to one of the most enigmatic figures of the past decade: the slain hip-hop artist Tupac Shakur. Five years after his murder, Tupac remains a widely celebrated, deeply loved, and profoundly controversial icon among black youth. Viewed by many as a "black James Dean," he has attained cult status partly due to the posthumous release of several albums, three movies, and a collection of poetry. But Tupac endures primarily because of the devotion of his loyal followers, who have immortalized him through tributes, letters, songs, and celebrations, many in cyberspace. Dyson helps us to understand why a twenty-five-year-old rapper, activist, poet, actor, and alleged sex offender looms even larger in death than he did in life. With his trademark skills of critical thinking and storytelling, Dyson examines Tupac's hold on black youth, assessing the ways in which different elements of his persona-thug, confused prophet, fatherless child-are both vital and destructive. At once deeply personal and sharply analytical, Dyson's book offers a wholly original way of looking at Tupac Shakur that will thrill those who already love the artist and enlighten those who want to understand him.
"In the tradition of jazz saxophonists John Coltrane and Charlie Parker, Dyson riffs with speed, eloquence, bawdy humor, and startling truths that have the effect of hitting you like a Mack truck."-San Francisco Examiner
"Such is the genius of Dyson. He flows freely from the profound to the profane, from popular culture to classical literature." -- Washington Post<br
"A major American thinker and cultural critic." -- Philadelphia Inquirer
"Among the young black intellectuals to emerge since the demise of the civil rights movement" -- undoubtedly the most insightful and thought-provoking is Michael Eric Dyson." -- Manning Marable, Director of African American Studies, Columbia University
by Adam Bradley
If asked to list the greatest innovators of modern American poetry, few of us would think to include Jay-Z or Eminem in their number. And yet hip hop is the source of some of the most exciting developments in verse today. The media uproar in response to its controversial lyrical content has obscured hip hop's revolution of poetic craft and experience: Only in rap music can the beat of a song render poetic meter audible, allowing an MC's wordplay to move a club-full of eager listeners.
Examining rap history's most memorable lyricists and their inimitable techniques, literary scholar Adam Bradley argues that we must understand rap as poetry or miss the vanguard of poetry today. Book of Rhymes explores America's least understood poets, unpacking their surprisingly complex craft, and according rap poetry the respect it deserves.
Juggalo: Insane Clown Posse and the World They Made is a vivid journey into the heart of a misunderstood subculture. Through firsthand reporting, including interviews with Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope of the Insane Clown Posse, their friends and family, and numerous devoted fans, Juggalo explores the lives of the proud outsiders who are frequently labeled as a threat or dismissed as a joke.
Author and journalist Steve Miller follows ICP across America, hanging out with Juggalos before and after shows, at the legendary annual Gathering of the Juggalos, and at work and home to share their stories. In addition, Juggalo dives deep into the FBI's misguided assault on Juggalo culture and the misidentification of this devoted group of horrorcore fans as a gang.
Juggalo is also the chronicle of two hard-luck kids from Detroit who created an empire and became the unwitting stars of a uniquely American grassroots success story. Without the help of radio airplay and with little love from the music industry establishment, ICP went platinum and fostered one of America's most durable subcultures.
Juggalo is required reading for the hardcore fan and pop culture buff alike, a scrupulously researched account of a subculture unlike any other -- one that so shook the establishment it launched a federal investigation -- as well as a window into the world of the Juggalos and the singular mythology of their underworld apocalypse.
Living together in Cambridge in 1989, David Foster Wallace and longtime friend Mark Costello discovered that they shared "an uncomfortable, somewhat furtive, and distinctively white enthusiasm for a certain music called rap/hip-hop."
The book they wrote together, set against the legendary Boston music scene, mapped the bipolarities of rap and pop, rebellion and acceptance, glitz and gangsterdom. Signifying Rappers issued a fan's challenge to the giants of rock writing, Greil Marcus, Robert Palmer, and Lester Bangs: Could the new street beats of 1989 set us free, as rock had always promised?
Back in print at last, Signifying Rappers is a rare record of a city and a summer by two great thinkers, writers, and friends. With a new foreword by Mark Costello on his experience writing with David Foster Wallace, this rerelease cannot be missed.
Whether along race, class or generational lines, hip-hop music has been a source of controversy since the beats got too big and the voices too loud for the block parties that spawned them. America has condemned and commended this music and the culture that inspires it. Dubbed "the Hip-Hop Intellectual" by critics and fans for his pioneering explorations of rap music in the academy and beyond, Michael Eric Dyson is uniquely situated to probe the most compelling and controversial dimensions of hip-hop culture. Know What I Mean? addresses salient issues within hip hop: the creative expression of degraded youth that has garnered them global exposure; the vexed gender relations that have made rap music a lightning rod for pundits; the commercial explosion that has made an art form a victim of its success; the political elements that have been submerged in the most popular form of hip hop; and the intellectual engagement with some of hip hop's most influential figures. In spite of changing trends, both in the music industry and among the intelligentsia, Dyson has always supported and interpreted this art that bloomed unwatered, and in many cases, unwanted from our inner cities. For those who wondered what all the fuss is about in hip hop, Dyson's bracing and brilliant book breaks it all down.
by Ben Westhoff
"Raw, authoritative, and unflinching ... An elaborately detailed, darkly surprising, definitive history of the LA gangsta rap era." -- Kirkus, starred review
A monumental, revealing narrative history about the legendary group of artists at the forefront of West Coast hip-hop: Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, and Tupac Shakur.
Amid rising gang violence, the crack epidemic, and police brutality, a group of unlikely voices cut through the chaos of late 1980s Los Angeles: N.W.A. Led by a drug dealer, a glammed-up producer, and a high school kid, N.W.A gave voice to disenfranchised African Americans across the country. And they quickly redefined pop culture across the world. Their names remain as popular as ever -- Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, and Ice Cube. Dre soon joined forces with Suge Knight to create the combustible Death Row Records, which in turn transformed Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur into superstars.
Ben Westhoff explores how this group of artists shifted the balance of hip-hop from New York to Los Angeles. He shows how N.W.A.'s shocking success lead to rivalries between members, record labels, and eventually a war between East Coast and West Coast factions. In the process, hip-hop burst into mainstream America at a time of immense social change, and became the most dominant musical movement of the last thirty years. At gangsta rap's peak, two of its biggest names -- Tupac and Biggie Smalls -- were murdered, leaving the surviving artists to forge peace before the genre annihilated itself.
Featuring extensive investigative reporting, interviews with the principal players, and dozens of never-before-told stories, Original Gangstas is a groundbreaking addition to the history of popular music.