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The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop | [Dan Charnas]

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

An original journalist for The Source, Dan Charnas built a celebrated career in the rap industry. In The Big Payback, he chronicles the rise of the hip-hop culture and shows how it became so powerful in a matter of decades. Charnas also profiles many of the movers and shakers in this burgeoning cultural movement, offering unprecedented access to an industry that continues to shake the globe.
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Publisher's Summary

An original journalist for The Source, Dan Charnas built a celebrated career in the rap industry. In The Big Payback, he chronicles the rise of the hip-hop culture and shows how it became so powerful in a matter of decades. Charnas also profiles many of the movers and shakers in this burgeoning cultural movement, offering unprecedented access to an industry that continues to shake the globe.

©2010 Dan Charnas (P)2011 Recorded Books, LLC

What the Critics Say

“Nuanced treatment of the impresarios behind signature sounds and recording empires, and brisk, dramatic vignettes, give this history of a leaderless revolution impressive momentum.” (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.6 (57 )
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4.6 (54 )
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  •  
    Chief Break Everything Bethesda, MD, United States 04-13-12
    Chief Break Everything Bethesda, MD, United States 04-13-12
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    "So much love"

    If you have any interest at all in hip hop, you'd be doing yourself a huge favor by listening to this book. It's incredibly detailed, offering snapshots of pivotal moments in the rise of hip hop from beats in clubs and kids rapping on the street to the extremely successful and ubiquitous art form it is today. Although it's over 27 hours and nearly 700 pages in print, I only wish this was longer. The drama between some of the industry's leading figures not only gives context to lyrics that might not otherwise make sense, and imparts a deeper understanding of artists' identities - it's also makes for a lot of interesting narratives. Even if you think you know a lot about hip hop history already, you will almost certainly learn something new, and there's a perspective here you can only get from hearing it all in the context of the time and place in which it happened. Oh, and it's really well-written and narrated. Definitely recommend this one.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim United States 07-04-12
    Tim United States 07-04-12 Member Since 2010

    Not a mainstream reader.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Most Comprehensive Book"

    Even though I may not like Hip Hop as much as other genres, this is the most comprehensive book that I ever read on a particular subject. No matter if you like Hip Hop or not, you will love this book because it's the most interesting read in a culture that is so popular among all ages.

    Reading about how the legends got started in the scene was the best, like Run DMC, Beastie Boys, House of Payne, Dr. Dre, and the business, like Def Jam Records. The most interesting part is how they got into the mainstream so quickly, by changing the tunes on the radio overnight, by turning into a rap and pop station the next day.

    In stead of reading thugs, pimps, and hoes, you will read the business side of this pop culture and how they become the 800 pound gorilla in music, fashion, Hollywood, and whatever else that they label as dope.

    If you want to understand how Hip Hop got started, this is a infinite title that you have to pick up either in print or audio.

    I gave it 4 out of 5 stars just because toward the end, the book became a bit too political with President Obama. It seems like that the President will bust a rhyme as he tries to get reelected for a second term, but that would be tight. It could happen, as the nation saw President Clinton played his saxophone on stage.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Phillip Chesapeake, VA, United States 05-14-12
    Phillip Chesapeake, VA, United States 05-14-12 Member Since 2010
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    "The Best book on Hip-Hop Culture and Industry Ever"
    If you could sum up The Big Payback in three words, what would they be?

    Detailed, Insightful, Epic


    What did you like best about this story?

    The has views from all sides


    What about Kevin R. Free’s performance did you like?

    Award Winning


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No, but every free minute it was played till the end.


    Any additional comments?

    If I were teaching a course on Hip-Hop History this would be mandatory reading.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert North York, Ontario, Canada 05-18-14
    Robert North York, Ontario, Canada 05-18-14 Member Since 2012
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    ""Flava In Ya Ear""
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I would recommend this to anyone with a love for Hip Hop or an interest in understanding it. It's the ROOTS for the Hip Hop Generation.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Big Payback?

    Hard to pin-point a most memorable moment. It's like picking a favourite child.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I haven't finished this anthology yet. But it is packed full of great stories that call upon sparks to engage conversations.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Certainly laughed. Brings a little personality out in those society puts on pedestals.


    Any additional comments?

    A must read! This should be show cased. It connects the dots of so much of what is happening now in fashion (New York's Eddie Plein as the godfather of the grill) to the rise of Harvard's Obama and the connection to the Source magazine. Thank you for creating an audible version of this book, it without question will put some flava in ya ear. Well written, researched, and delivered.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eric Beehler Colorado Springs, CO 04-17-14
    Eric Beehler Colorado Springs, CO 04-17-14 Member Since 2012
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    "The story behind Hiphop's ascent"
    If you could sum up The Big Payback in three words, what would they be?

    This is the story behind Hiphop's ascent into mainstream America through the business side of music. From the nearly impossible major labels to the moguls we associate with Hiphop as much as the emcees, this tells it all. It is engrossing and really sheds light on how far a subculture of America had to go to become part of world culture.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The stories of small independent labels, radio personnel fighting to play rap, and the rocky relationships between all of the players like Russel Simmons and Sean Combs.


    What about Kevin R. Free’s performance did you like?

    Good delivery and passion.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It was enlightening to hear how some of my favorite artists and the music they created actually came to be. Stories about the early years were my favorite parts. The final chapter puts it all in perspective.


    Any additional comments?

    The performer does have some mistakes in pronunciation of some Hiphop aliases, but nothing I can't overlook.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JAMIE nashville, tn, United States 12-28-13
    JAMIE nashville, tn, United States 12-28-13 Member Since 2013
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    "The true history of a culture"
    If you could sum up The Big Payback in three words, what would they be?

    Entertaining, Honest, Gripping


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Big Payback?

    The stories about Def Jam


    What does Kevin R. Free bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    He breathes life into the lines and sang certain lyrics.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Hip hop history


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cornelius Collingswood, NJ, United States 12-26-13
    Cornelius Collingswood, NJ, United States 12-26-13 Member Since 2008
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    "The Best Hip Hop History Book Ever!"
    Any additional comments?

    This was the most comprehensive hip-hop book I've ever read! If you're a hip hop artist, purist, educator, or simply a casual fan, this book starts you from the embryo and guides you to hip hop's middle age in a one seamless arc.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Blake Portland, OR, United States 03-12-13
    Blake Portland, OR, United States 03-12-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Essential for every fan of Hip Hop music"

    As a person who grew up with Hip Hop music, I'm surprised there aren't more books of this quality on the subject. This book was a journey starting in my childhood and spanning my teens, twenties and early thirties. I am too young to remember the disco era, but I remember the first time I heard Rappers Delight and Planet Rock. I remember Run DMC, the Beasties Boys, The Fat Boys, Too $hort, and so on. It was so interesting to hear the behind the scenes stories of how all of those careers came to be. I would have liked more stories about West Coast artists, and artists that might not have been the huge commercial stars that the book focused on. One other conspicuous omission was the 2 Live Crew banned album story that I recall being huge at the time. I could have lived without the chapters about all the clothing lines, Sprite and Vitamin Water. I think that the book would be better if it were about the art of Hip Hop with a little business sprinkled in. I can't imagine why someone with more Interest in business than art would bother with this book. Also, the author could have been more critical of the downside of huge commercial success instead of painting such a perfectly rosy picture of the commercialization of Hip Hop. But even though this book is not perfect, anyone who grew up on Hip Hop will devour it, and be left wanting more. It's a pretty spectacular book, and I would love to read more from this author.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy United States 01-03-13
    Kathy United States 01-03-13 Member Since 2004
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    "Everything an audiobook should be"

    Great writing, great narration, engrossing story. This book is a great model of what audiobooks should be. Kevin R. Free's narration is fantastic - it's great to hear younger voices as narrators, who bring a freshness and vitality to the audiobook genre. And Dan Charnas's story is both comprehensive and fascinating. Bravo on all fronts!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tony Indianapolis, IN USA 12-31-12
    Tony Indianapolis, IN USA 12-31-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Really interesting story about Hip Hop's history."

    I enjoyed the historical aspects of the topic. Hearing about the different players that helped create Hip Hop was nice because outside of bits and pieces from other sources, I didn't have an overview of how it came to be.

    Later in the book, while the story is still good, it starts dealing with radio and the importance that it played and at this point my attention started to wain. It's still great history at this point but what I enjoyed most was the history of the people and the record labels and while the radio/magazine sections are important to the overall history, I just didn't care about these people enough. After a while of wanting the story to go back to the actual people making the music I had to remind myself that this book is not about the history of Hip Hop, it's about the history of the Business of Hip Hop. Big difference.

    This is my first book by both the author and narrator and I would seek out books by either in the future.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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