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The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop [Hardcover]

Dan Charnas


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Book Description

Dec 7 2010

The Big Payback takes us from the first $15 made by a "rapping DJ" in 1970s New York to the recent multi-million-dollar sales of the Phat Farm and Roc-a-Wear clothing companies in 2004 and 2007. On this four-decade-long journey from the studios where the first rap records were made to the boardrooms where the big deals were inked, The Big Payback tallies the list of who lost and who won. Read the secret histories of the early long-shot successes of Sugar Hill Records and Grandmaster Flash, Run DMC's crossover breakthrough on MTV, the marketing of gangsta rap, and the rise of artist/ entrepreneurs like Jay-Z and Sean "Diddy" Combs.

300 industry veterans-well-known giants like Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons, the founders of Def Jam, and key insiders like Gerald Levin, the embattled former Time Warner chief-gave their stories to renowned hip-hop journalist Dan Charnas, who provides a compelling, never-before seen, myth-debunking view into the victories, defeats, corporate clashes, and street battles along the 40-year road to hip-hop's dominance.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 672 pages
  • Publisher: NAL Hardcover (Dec 7 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451229290
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451229298
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 16.3 x 5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 930 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #343,331 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Pulitzer-level reporting."
-Spin

"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."
-Details

"[An] exhaustive, engrossing history of the genre"
-Entertainment Weekly

"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."
-Forbes

"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."
-Austin Chronicle

"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 scouted talent and promoted records for the seminal rap label, Profile, and was Vice President of A&R for Rick Rubin’s Def American Recordings. His writing has appeared in the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and the Village Voice. Charnas holds a master’s degree from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, and was awarded a Pulitzer Prize Fellowship. This is his first book.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  45 reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Number One Hip Hop Fan Dec 9 2010
By Kevin A. Mitchell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is the most detailed and real to life accounting of the business of music ever written. Details are provided about the "behind the scenes" activity of how the hip-hop business grew into a billion dollar business. The book is vivid and informative to anyone aspiring to pursue a career in the music business. The author Dan Charnas' account is second to none and a must read for any fan of entertainment. Nothing like this exists to my knowledge. It provides the process of the development of an American art form that has transcended from the streets of the Bronx to the shores of Tivalu. Hip-hop music transformed life and culture in the 20th and 21st century and its fair to say it affected the election of an American president. I haven't put it down since I picked it up. Go grab this asap!!!
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dolla Dolla Bill Y'all. Great look at the history of Hip-Hop biz Dec 13 2010
By David Lee Ressel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
What "Hit and Run" did for exposing rock music, "Country Music, USA" dissected for Country Music and "Three Blind Mice" examined in Television, "The Big Payback" does for hip-hop. Almost every book on hip-hop has been overly academic, a cash-in or hagiography of the stars. Nobody has touched the nexus of commerce, culture (in particular race) and history in such a suspenseful narrative as "The Big Payback." Primarily, especially for those of us who grew up with hip-hop, this book opens the doors of what lay behind the music without the hype. And, it is more than just "Mo, Money, Mo' Problems." In particular, the historical roots of the music on the streets of Harlem add The Bronx. I found it impossible to put down. I only wish that the electronic version might have contained a soundtrack or maybe a video to punctuate the text.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hip-Hop's Business Bible Dec 13 2010
By Zack O. Greenburg - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"The man who invented American money lived and died in Harlem."

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.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Engaging Read with Excellent Reportage Jan. 23 2011
By Laura L. Ohata - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Dan Charnas' book, The Big Pay Back, is one of the 3 best books I've read in the past ten years. Hip-hop fans will find lots to learn here, while the narrative is engaging enough to entertain and enlighten the most distracted entrepreneur. I place it up on the shelf right next to Sun Tsu's Art of War. Yes, it is that good!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome! Dec 20 2010
By Charles M - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I'm a man of few words, also one to get board easily with books so I'll get straight to the point. This books is really hard to put down, it practically reads itself! It's amazing how elaborate and interconnected this story is, it's told in an intricate detail that puts you right in the middle of a guided tour through time as hip hop comes to life! If you're a fan of Hip hop, if you know anything about its origins or are the least bit curious about how it all started and are intrigued by the players behind the scene then definitely pick up this book!

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