The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop Hardcover – Dec 7 2010
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"A classic of music business dirt-digging as well as a kind of pulp epic."
-Rolling Stone (4-star review)
"As gripping and dense as a prime Jay-Z rhyme...Charnas has done a real service to pop history."
-New York Daily News
"Essential...The Big Payback focuses not on the beefs you know but on the back-room battles you don't."
"[An] exhaustive, engrossing history of the genre"
"In a year that has seen plenty of hip-hop books, The Big Payback stands out as a must-read for any fan - or detractor - of the genre."
"The riveting dialogue culled from more than 300 interviews makes it seem as if Charnas was in the room for every deal that ever went down in hip-hop, and sometimes he was."
"Dan Charnas captures an epic story full of joy and pain, triumph and failure, grace and greed with the skills of a journalist, the wisdom of an insider, and the passion of a microphone fiend. Call The Big Payback a hip-hop version of David Halberstam's The Reckoning."
-Jeff Chang, author, Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation
"With an insider's connections and an outsider's perspective, Dan Charnas has written the otherwise untold story of the business of hip-hop. His cast of characters -- producers, agents, label executives, talent scouts -- is every bit as compelling and dramatic as the musicians themselves. In the tradition of such great music journalists as Fred Goodman and Frederic Dannen, Charnas takes us way behind the scenes. It's an unforgettable odyssey."
-Samuel G. Freedman, New York Times columnist and author of Upon This Rock, Who She Was, and Jew vs. Jew
"The Big Payback is a stunning achievement. Not only does it manage to pack in countless unprecedented anecdotes about hip-hop that you can't find anywhere else, the read is effortlessly smooth. First there was David Toop's Rap Attack, Ego-Trip's Book of Rap Lists, then Jeff Chang's Can't Stop, Won't Stop, and now this book, the one ring that rules them all."
-Cheo H. Coker, co-screenwriter of Notorious and author of Unbelievable: The Life, Death, and Afterlife of the Notorious B.I.G.
"How did hip hop's shoot-from-the-lip outlaws and go-for-broke gamblers become the entertainment industry's new landed gentry? Dan Charnas brings a fan's devotion, an industry insider's savvy, and a reporter's unblinking eye to chronicling a cultural revolution that is as contradictory and complex as the country that produced it. Payback is a bitch."
-Fred Goodman, author of Fortune's Fool and The Mansion on the Hill
About the Author
Dan Charnas, a veteran of the hip-hop music business, began his career scouting talent and promoting records for seminal rap label Profile Records and for Rick Rubin’s Def American Recordings. He penned some of the first cover stories for The Source magazine and was part of a generation of young writers who helped create hip-hop journalism. His writing has appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Press, and the Village Voice. He also worked as a segment producer for MTV’s The Lyricist Lounge Show. Charnas holds a master’s degree from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and was awarded a Pulitzer fellowship. He was born and lives in New York City.
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Thus begins The Big Payback, a tour-de-force of a book that details the rise of rap music from the burned-out blocks of the South Bronx in the 1970s to the top of the international mainstream music world today. Tracking more than 30 years of hip-hop's history, it gives readers a peek at the origins of all the major players in the genre today-and the pioneers on whose shoulders they stand.
This sweeping narrative reminds readers that hip-hop has merged with mainstream popular music despite the naysayers who, even today, write it off as a passing fad. One need look no further than the obscure DJs spinning in sweaty South Bronx clubs in the book's early chapters to the rap stars starting their own companies by the book's end to realize how far hip-hop has come, and where it may yet go.
In a year that has seen plenty of hip-hop books, The Big Payback stands out as a must-read for any fan (or even any detractor) of the genre.