From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Charnas tells the story of hip-hop in this stylish, lavishly detailed love letter to the genre and industry. He follows the money and œthe relationship between artist and merchant—who, in hip-hop, are often one and the same from hip-hop™s early days as a œmarginal urban subculture in Harlem of the late 1960s to its insinuation into—and eventual domination of—mainstream popular music. Charnas makes an elegant case for how hip-hop is the consummate American art form, one that reflects American society in all its volubility and violence—as well as possessing the power to alter it. In its promise of economic security and creative control for black artist-entrepreneurs, it is the culmination of the dreams of black nationalists and civil rights leaders. Charnas spent seven years working for Rick Rubin, famed producer and cofounder of Def Jam Records, and writes with the authority of an insider, the passion of a fan, and the cool eye of someone who has maneuvered through the day-to-day working of the business. Nuanced treatment of the impresarios behind signature sounds and recording empires, and brisk, dramatic vignettes, give this history of a leaderless revolution impressive momentum. (Jan.)
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"A classic of music business dirt-digging as well as a kind of pulp epic."
"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
--This text refers to an alternate