Feature

Book of the week: The Big Payback by Dan Charnas

Charnas provides “one of the most comprehensive” accounts of hip-hop’s rise.

(New American Library, $24.95)

Dan Charnas’ “colorful” new history of the hip-hop industry is cast as “a business manual of sorts,” said Steven Daly in Bloomberg Businessweek. But don’t take that pose too seriously. As Charnas shows, early rap labels often spent far more than they brought in, and the entrepreneurs who made good generally followed the tried-and-true business practice “of winging it, then cashing out.” The real money went to those who parlayed music fame into ownership stakes in clothing lines or energy drinks. But Charnas’ “brick-sized” book isn’t just about the “Benjamins,” said Evelyn McDonnell in the Los Angeles Times. It’s a “character-driven narrative” that ends up providing “one of the most comprehensive” accounts of hip-hop’s rise. An industry insider, Charnas dishes out “juicy details” that haven’t been reported, and yet he manages to be consistently fair and meticulous. For anyone with an interest in hip-hop culture or the music business, “The Big Payback is a must-read.”

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