When it comes to reading, there isn't much I won't read. Reading is something I do often and early. I love music almost as much as I love reading. So, whenever I come across books about the music business and the like, I have to read them. Such was the case when I found Steve Stoute's book "The Tanning of America: How Hip-Hip Created a Culture That Rewrote the Rules of the New Economy" on the library shelf. It's a book that had been on my to read list for a year or so. I just never got around to it because there were so many books on the list. I am so glad I picked it up and read it this month. It was so insightful about so many things. A lot of the topics are things I never gave a lot of thought to. This book shows how Hip-Hop literally changed the world. Stoute takes you on a historical journey that intertwines the world of Hip-Hop from it's infancy to the world of mass media marketing. It is beyond interesting to see how the world of Hip-Hop, which is full of Black people, changed the way the world markets their products. I was amazed more often than not while reading this book.
I love the conversations that are included. Stoute talks to a lot of big name Hip-Hop players such as Jay Z, Eminem, Fab Five Freddy, and Will Smith. One important tanning moment is one I will always remember. It is the infamous LL Cool J Gap commercial in which he is sporting a FUBU hat and drops a "for us by us" endorsement. It is crazy that no one who worked for Gap knew who or what "FUBU" was. The corporation did not realize that their huge star just name dropped his own company twice in a national commercial. It was quite genius on LL's part. That is a great example of tanning in America. Superstars who looked like me were the ones guiding the culture. When Jay rapped about growing up and not wearing a Throwback jersey and putting on a crisp button up, the world responded in kind. It is that kind of marketing power which is the reason for tanning in America. While I enjoyed everything about this book, there is one chapter that is my favorite. One of the last chapters entitled "1520 Sedgwick Avenue - 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue." It focuses on the tanning effect of Hip Hop on politics. It takes you from the inception of Hip Hop to the election of the first Black President. In this chapter, Stoute discusses the stolen first election of George W. Bush, the horror that was the governmental mismanagement of Hurricane Katrina and the things that led up to the election of two term President Barack H. Obama.
Also, make sure you check out the 4 part, 4 night special on VH1 on "The Tanning of America." It begins tonight @ 8. After finishing this book, I am super hyped to watch this documentary. I want to see some of the interviews that eventually became the basis of the book. I knew Steve Stoute's name because of Jay Z. I did not know much about him to be honest. I just knew he was a mover & shaker behind the scenes in Hip Hop, a name that carried weight and was respected. This book shows me why. He is incredible smart and knows his stuff. "The Tanning of America" is a great look at how a genre of music and a lifestyle has changed the way America looks and feels. It is quiet amazing. This book was an incredibly insightful look into what made the changes. It is simply a great read. Get into Steve Stoute's "The Tanning of America" today!