To research and report on the history of hip-hop — from its modest New York beginnings in the 1970s at parties in uptown Bronx recreation centers and parks, to its impact on mainstream marketing, advertising and global culture — is a huge undertaking. In Dan Charnas’ exhaustively researched The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop (New American Library/Penguin), he does exactly that.
Over the course of 600-plus pages, Charnas, a veteran of the hip-hop music business (talent scout, record promoter, journalist), traces the evolution of rap music, which emerged from the ashes of the late 1970s disco scene. The Big Payback, which Spin magazine called “Pulitzer-level reporting,” not only chronicles the fascinating stories of early trailblazing hip-hop recording artists (Run-DMC, the Fat Boys, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, among them), but all the way through to some of today’s biggest hitmakers/dealmakers (Jay-Z, Eminem, 50 Cent).
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