The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop

Overview

The Big Payback takes readers from the first $15 made by a "rapping DJ" in 1970s New York to the 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 ...

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Overview

The Big Payback takes readers from the first $15 made by a "rapping DJ" in 1970s New York to the 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 giants like Def Jam founders Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons 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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  • The Big Payback
    The Big Payback  

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Charnas tells the story of hip-hop in this stylish, lavishly detailed love letter to the genre and industry. He follows the money and “the relationship between artist and merchant—who, in hip-hop, are often one and the same” from hip-hop’s early days as a “marginal 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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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451234780
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 11/1/2011
  • Pages: 672
  • Sales rank: 215,858
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 5.98 (h) x 1.46 (d)

Meet the Author

Dan Charnas

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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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2012

    The Story of American Entrepreneurship as told with Hip-Hop

    This book is 600+ pages deep. Trust me when I tell you this: it could have been twice as big. Mr. Charnas took on the Herculean task of explaining the history of Hip-Hop from the perspective of entreprenuership. He makes you understand why any conversation about Hip-Hop has to include all of the groundbreaking inclusions (Yo MTV Raps), it's use as a driver of commerce (Wu Wear, Phat Farm, Vitaminwater, Sprite) and the actual people involved who helped it become what it is.

    The reason why I said it could have been twice as big is because the book does a fine job of pointing out it was a rising tide lifting many boats. Right off hand, I can think of a half-million other businesses that saw their fortunes elevated by the ascendance of hip-hop (AKAI, Roland, DiscMakers, Open Mics).

    I recommend this to anyone who is a serious student of hip-hop history because this book will connect the dots, shatter your illusions and provide a you a low-cost MBA all in one long read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 10, 2011

    Must read for true hip hop fans

    I really enjoyed reading this book because it basically took me back to my childhood. I grew up with hip hop from the beginning. I knew about most of the stories from rap mags but this book gives great detail of what the culture of hip hop endured during the last 25 yrs. But was a real surprise is what hip hop to go through with radio stations. A very good history lesson for those who are ignorant about how hip hop got started.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2011

    Calling all Hip Hop Heads! Get this book!

    A highly recomend this book to anyone who works in the music industry, wants to work in the music industry or thought about working in the music industry. This book takes you on an informative journey through not only the history of the business of hip hop but also the culture of hip hop. Hip Hop fans won't be disappointed.

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  • Posted January 11, 2011

    It's a must read

    This book is a complete timeline of the Hip Hop business covering all the events and players big or small. From the first Park DJ's to the Multimillionaire Executives and everything in between. It's addition to being entertaining it is also a teaching tool for anyone who has aspirations to contribute to this wonderful culture from a business perspective!

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  • Posted December 31, 2010

    payback

    The Big payback was very informative. It takes you through every aspect of the music industry and how it supported the worlds love of Hip-Hop. If you are in the music business READ

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    Posted February 1, 2012

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    Posted May 25, 2011

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    Posted March 4, 2011

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    Posted August 13, 2011

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    Posted December 28, 2010

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