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Jay-Z: Made in America

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Jay-Z: Made in America is the fruit of Michael Eric Dyson’s decade of teaching the work of one of the greatest poets this nation has produced, as gifted a wordsmith as Walt Whitman, Robert Frost and Rita Dove. But as a rapper, he’s sometimes not given the credit he deserves for just how great an artist he’s been for so long. This book wrestles with the biggest themes of Jay Jay-Z: Made in America is the fruit of Michael Eric Dyson’s decade of teaching the work of one of the greatest poets this nation has produced, as gifted a wordsmith as Walt Whitman, Robert Frost and Rita Dove. But as a rapper, he’s sometimes not given the credit he deserves for just how great an artist he’s been for so long. This book wrestles with the biggest themes of Jay-Z's career, including hustling, and it recognizes the way that he’s always weaved politics into his music, making important statements about race, criminal justice, black wealth and social injustice. As he enters his fifties, and to mark his thirty years as a recording artist, this is the perfect time to take a look at Jay-Z’s career and his role in making this nation what it is today. In many ways, this is Jay-Z’s America as much as it’s Pelosi’s America, or Trump’s America, or Martin Luther King’s America. Jay-Z has given this country a language to think with and words to live by. Featuring a Foreword by Pharrell


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Jay-Z: Made in America is the fruit of Michael Eric Dyson’s decade of teaching the work of one of the greatest poets this nation has produced, as gifted a wordsmith as Walt Whitman, Robert Frost and Rita Dove. But as a rapper, he’s sometimes not given the credit he deserves for just how great an artist he’s been for so long. This book wrestles with the biggest themes of Jay Jay-Z: Made in America is the fruit of Michael Eric Dyson’s decade of teaching the work of one of the greatest poets this nation has produced, as gifted a wordsmith as Walt Whitman, Robert Frost and Rita Dove. But as a rapper, he’s sometimes not given the credit he deserves for just how great an artist he’s been for so long. This book wrestles with the biggest themes of Jay-Z's career, including hustling, and it recognizes the way that he’s always weaved politics into his music, making important statements about race, criminal justice, black wealth and social injustice. As he enters his fifties, and to mark his thirty years as a recording artist, this is the perfect time to take a look at Jay-Z’s career and his role in making this nation what it is today. In many ways, this is Jay-Z’s America as much as it’s Pelosi’s America, or Trump’s America, or Martin Luther King’s America. Jay-Z has given this country a language to think with and words to live by. Featuring a Foreword by Pharrell

30 review for Jay-Z: Made in America

  1. 4 out of 5

    Manny

    Not my cup of tea. Was looking for a book on the life and success of a great musician and business man. I am a big fan of Jay Z and have been since his early work in music, clothing, liquor, and record empire. I bought this book because it was 2019 and wanted to get the most updated book. However this book turned out to be what I perceived as a politically, racially charged book I did not want to read. I did not finish it so I may have acted in haste, but I really did not feel the content. I rea Not my cup of tea. Was looking for a book on the life and success of a great musician and business man. I am a big fan of Jay Z and have been since his early work in music, clothing, liquor, and record empire. I bought this book because it was 2019 and wanted to get the most updated book. However this book turned out to be what I perceived as a politically, racially charged book I did not want to read. I did not finish it so I may have acted in haste, but I really did not feel the content. I read all kinds of books and I do not shy away from books pertaining to race and the like. It may be a good book for someone looking for a Apotheosis of Jay Z where they compare him to a god and talk about how there is a curriculum of Jay Z in universities. I wanted more about the man not the myth. Just my $0.02

  2. 4 out of 5

    Donna Hines

    "In many ways, this is JAY-Z’s America as much as it’s Pelosi’s America, or Trump’s America, or Martin Luther King’s America. JAY-Z has given this country a language to think with and words to live by." "This book wrestles with the biggest themes of JAY-Z's career, including hustling, and it recognizes the way that he’s always weaved politics into his music, making important statements about race, criminal justice, black wealth and social injustice. As he enters his fifties, and to mark his thirt "In many ways, this is JAY-Z’s America as much as it’s Pelosi’s America, or Trump’s America, or Martin Luther King’s America. JAY-Z has given this country a language to think with and words to live by." "This book wrestles with the biggest themes of JAY-Z's career, including hustling, and it recognizes the way that he’s always weaved politics into his music, making important statements about race, criminal justice, black wealth and social injustice. As he enters his fifties, and to mark his thirty years as a recording artist, this is the perfect time to take a look at JAY-Z’s career and his role in making this nation what it is today." Truth be told he is a rapper, an artist, a HUSTLER, a man for which less is known about his life beyond his current works. Ergo, why I was interested in picking this one up and learning more. It just was't my thing with the way it was written, the language was off setting for me, the premise wasn't much beyond what we already know. I wanted to love this as back in the 80's I was that gal with the 'boom box' always in tow with Queen Latifah, Ice-T, Digital Underground and all the rappers on my play lists or shall I say cassette tapes for those dating themselves. However, I just didn't find my anything that really excited me to flip the pages. Thank you to Michael, the publisher, NetGalley, and Amazon Kindle for this ARC in exchange for this honest review. As they say variety is the spice of life, so pick it up, and ENJOY!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Yesenia Juarez

    Michael Eric Dyson can do no wrong, I loved how he broke down Jay’s lyrics and my most favorite section is when he mentioned Nipsey. Rest In Peace young black King.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jenn "JR"

    Humans have always been resourceful – they find ways to increase power and status, even when it means inventing and convincing others of the validity of something. For example – at a time when France’s relative power and strength was troubled, Louis XIV basically invented “luxury” lifestyle and merchandise – fabrics, clothing, perfumes and furniture – in the 16th century, and his ambassadors became marketing managers, selling an idea that possessions of a certain quality meant something and insp Humans have always been resourceful – they find ways to increase power and status, even when it means inventing and convincing others of the validity of something. For example – at a time when France’s relative power and strength was troubled, Louis XIV basically invented “luxury” lifestyle and merchandise – fabrics, clothing, perfumes and furniture – in the 16th century, and his ambassadors became marketing managers, selling an idea that possessions of a certain quality meant something and inspiring the earliest fear of missing out that we see in modern marketing. Michael Eric Dyson dives into the “art of hustle” in the first chapter – describing the ways that people, particularly African Americans in poor neighborhoods, have sought to find such niches to improve their circumstances and achieve financial and social success. He talks about facets of types of hustle based on poverty and opportunity of location as integral to the black experience in the US. Dyson’s writing works on many levels, skillfully interweaving biographical information about Jay-Z, biographical portraits of other artists, politicians and historical figures, social history, and literary analysis of the lyrics of Jay-Z and other artists. Throughout, there are references to conversations that Jay-Z and other artists have through the lyrics of their music – some are serious and some are light-hearted play acting or “dues.” Dyson also does a deep dive into masculinity and blackness – analyzing the Hegelian dynamics of Jay-Z and Beyonce’s musical conversations around the complexities of relationships between women and men. As a former language major – I really enjoyed Dyson’s analysis of Jay-Z’s lyrics in literary terms, summarized as an “extremely sophisticated romp on poetry’s playground of metaphor and metonymy, simile and synecdoche.” Dyson dives into all the references to philosophy, history, politics and satire and summarizes as “Jay’s lyrical cleverness masks his deeper intellectual reflections on the world and on black culture itself.” “Jay’s openness to a variety of art forms and his understanding that common themes of existential struggle unite disparate genres of music. Thus one of his most successful songs, at a critical point in his career, features a sample from a Broadway musical that highlights the plight of poor, socially invisible children.” Jay-Z is a poet, a philosopher and has a strong political voice – which does not lessen as his popularity and success continue. He’s the first rap artist to become a billionaire, and throughout his career – one where he never writes down his lyrics -- “Jay has also mastered a sneak-and-speak approach to political commentary, He laces his lyrics with pieces of social and political insight, from entire blocs of songs through extended metaphor to just a word or two.” As Ken Burns highlighted in his documentary of country music in the US -- which featured mostly white artists -- the non-white artists he included stressed repeatedly "it's about the stories." Hip-hop and rap are also about the stories, and shifting from stereotyped masculine swagger, avoidance of commitment and personal consumption. There are women calling BS on men treating them poorly and even a young (gay) black artist whose "country trap" song quickly went up the Billboard charts as the most popular song in Billboard history. Hip-hop / rap artists are not just telling their stories and shining light into the dark corners of our cultural consciousness, but they are working into the general conceptions of many concepts, such as who gets to enjoy "luxury" goods? (See https://www.businessoffashion.com/art... ) -- and importantly, they are changing the rules around power and status. One of the most appealing traits of Dyson's writing is his passionate enthusiasm for Jay-Z's oeuvre -- his contextualization and analysis of Jay-Z’s music, achievements and life flows in a way that seems clear and almost obvious (as in "Of course it happened that way!"). Dyson provides a fantastic annotated discography at the end of this lovely synthesis of popular culture, history, capitalism and social class. Or, as my friend Andre says – “Just listen to the music.”

  5. 4 out of 5

    Chase Preston

    Unfortunately this book reads like a secret admirer’s narrative about Jay-Z’s social and political agenda with a few nods to his economic success. I was interested in hearing more about his life story with personal insights on the challenges he had to overcome to rise to the top. Yet this book just reinforces the impact he had on society, and all the problems with the world today. Where the Beastie Boys book succeeded, this one failed.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Erika

    I think I used all of my brain power for 2020 trying to keep up with Dyson's remarkable vocabulary. I loved the concept of the book. I didn't love the execution of it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Essence Taylor

    I don't know how I feel about this book. I thought it would be about Jay-Z; which it was, but it was mostly about America, and how it shaped Jay-Z. Hence: made in America part. Other people were mentioned in the book as well, like Biggie, Nas, LeBron James and MLK. Some at great length, which I don't think I liked too much. At one point while reading chapter 3, I felt I was reading about MLK; even though I understand where the author was going: comparing MLK positives and negatives with Jay's. I don't know how I feel about this book. I thought it would be about Jay-Z; which it was, but it was mostly about America, and how it shaped Jay-Z. Hence: made in America part. Other people were mentioned in the book as well, like Biggie, Nas, LeBron James and MLK. Some at great length, which I don't think I liked too much. At one point while reading chapter 3, I felt I was reading about MLK; even though I understand where the author was going: comparing MLK positives and negatives with Jay's. I enjoyed the break downs for his lyrics, his hustling, and political views, but I wished there was more of it. I think Jay-Z: Made in America is a book I'll come back to visit without any expectations and I'm might enjoy it more.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Brandon Forsyth

    Michael Eric Dyson proves he is a Stan... maybe of himself most of all. This is a meandering collection of thoughts on how hip hop reflects and creates Black culture, with occasional reflections on Jay-Z’s place in that rich tapestry. If you’d like to read about Mr. Dyson’s plane trip with the late Nipsey Hussle or his history of reporting on figures like Martin Luther King Jr., you may enjoy this book, but if you bought it for some penetrating insight into the character of Mr. Shawn Carter or a Michael Eric Dyson proves he is a Stan... maybe of himself most of all. This is a meandering collection of thoughts on how hip hop reflects and creates Black culture, with occasional reflections on Jay-Z’s place in that rich tapestry. If you’d like to read about Mr. Dyson’s plane trip with the late Nipsey Hussle or his history of reporting on figures like Martin Luther King Jr., you may enjoy this book, but if you bought it for some penetrating insight into the character of Mr. Shawn Carter or a compelling analysis of his lyrics, you’ll be frustrated.

  9. 5 out of 5

    LiteraryMarie

    Your fave could never be labeled one of the best poets ever. Your fave would not publicly apologize to his wife via a whole album. Your fave is not the fifth black billionaire. Surely your fave could not stay relevant for so long. Your fave just cannot. Periodt. From rap to boardroom to his own lane, JAY-Z is deeper than just a former street hustler turned rapper. He beat the odds! So when I got the opportunity to read and review an advance copy of JAY-Z: Made in America, being the superfan that Your fave could never be labeled one of the best poets ever. Your fave would not publicly apologize to his wife via a whole album. Your fave is not the fifth black billionaire. Surely your fave could not stay relevant for so long. Your fave just cannot. Periodt. From rap to boardroom to his own lane, JAY-Z is deeper than just a former street hustler turned rapper. He beat the odds! So when I got the opportunity to read and review an advance copy of JAY-Z: Made in America, being the superfan that I am, imagine my glee! Writer Michael Eric Dyson delves into the biggest themes of JAY-Z's career, from hustling to rapping to boardroom to art collector and more. His music mirrors his life. However, Dyson takes it a step further. He examines the role that JAY-Z plays in our society today while relating the music to themes such as politics, race, criminal justice, black wealth and social injustice. Dyson also highlights the many accomplishments and business ventures. With a Foreword by Pharrell, this nonfiction read will feel like a master class on one of the greatest artists of our time. Let me break down this recommendation. For general music or memoir fans, this book will give perspective on lyrics as it relates to JAY-Z's life over the years—both personally and professionally. For fans, you may get insight into the meaning behind some of JAY-Z's bars. For Hov stans, like myself, you will devour this book. You will start reading from the very beginning word until the very last, follow along with playing the corresponding tracks, digest the interpreted lyrics, enjoy the hip-hop references and admire JAY-Z's brilliance. All along thanking Dyson for bringing a few things to your attention. I cannot imagine the amount of research that went into the publication of JAY-Z: Made in America. But it is quite evident that Dyson left no stone unturned in his analysis study. In fact, I suggest it as prerequisite reading before listening, at length, to classic albums like The Blueprint, 4:44 and Reasonable Doubt. This book will help music listeners know and understand what they're listening to (without skimming through it) and provide reason as to why JAY-Z is influential in America. Minus the few tangents of hip-hop history or politics, Dyson could not have written this any better! Happy Pub Day, Michael Eric Dyson! JAY-Z: Made in America is now available. LiteraryMarie

  10. 5 out of 5

    Arlo

    My first time reading Dyson and his prose is as good as his oratory skills. I was hoping to be immersed in his class on Jay Z by reading the book, but in actuality he just skims the surface. The book is about Jay Z, but uses some anecdotes about him to focus on macro issues within the black community and Jay's role as a historical figure. There's some controversial stuff towards the end where he draws parallels of Jay's infidelity and MLK and black sexuality that ties into the hypocritical stand My first time reading Dyson and his prose is as good as his oratory skills. I was hoping to be immersed in his class on Jay Z by reading the book, but in actuality he just skims the surface. The book is about Jay Z, but uses some anecdotes about him to focus on macro issues within the black community and Jay's role as a historical figure. There's some controversial stuff towards the end where he draws parallels of Jay's infidelity and MLK and black sexuality that ties into the hypocritical standards they are held too.--he mentions Hoovers on going sexual fetishes while servelling MLK.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Cristie Underwood

    This was such a well researched biography, as there were so many things I learned about Jay-Z by reading this. I love how the author focused on the impact his music has had on our nation politically. Highly recommend!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Laura Forbes

    Very dense. Will probably read again but need some fluff in the meantime. Learned a lot.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Darius Washington

    Not what I expected, but still a good read.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Nathan Peart

    I really respect the knowledge and vigor with which Dyson disseminates information. However, I was greatly disappointed with this book and could not finish it. He has an amazing command of the English language but this book did not provide any further insight to what I already knew about Jay Z. Perhaps I would’ve appreciated this book if he provided scholarly research to pair with the points that he attempted to make via Jay-Z’s lyrics.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Justice

    Decent But it seems he loses his way a bit in chapter 3. He starts discussing Al Sharpton, Lil Wayne, The Game, Martin Luther King, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. It seems that he begins to use this platform to discuss things that were important to him, but unrelated to Jay-Z and the theme of the book. I also find it interesting that when he discusses Bill Cosby who’s been found guilty, he uses the word “allegedly”. But when he discusses R. Kelly he doesn’t. He says we should forgive MLK for his transg Decent But it seems he loses his way a bit in chapter 3. He starts discussing Al Sharpton, Lil Wayne, The Game, Martin Luther King, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. It seems that he begins to use this platform to discuss things that were important to him, but unrelated to Jay-Z and the theme of the book. I also find it interesting that when he discusses Bill Cosby who’s been found guilty, he uses the word “allegedly”. But when he discusses R. Kelly he doesn’t. He says we should forgive MLK for his transgressions, But not R Kelly. Let me be clear I’m not promoting R. Kelly or Cosby. I’m merely highlighting the bias in this book. He clearly is a proponent of separating man from his mission and perceived or alleged flaws but it all belongs in another book in my opinion. I learned some information so I won’t call it a fail.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tracey Robinson

    This was the last #ourstory read for 2019. I knew I wanted to read this book once I learned of its release in late October/early November 2019. I read my first Michael Eric Dyson book back in June and loved it. So I was intrigued to see what this Jay-Z book was going to be about. This leads me to my brief synopsis. I don't know what I was really expecting within the pages of this book. Maybe a biography? Instead, you find an academic assessment of JayZ, Jay-Z, and Sean Carter. You must read the b This was the last #ourstory read for 2019. I knew I wanted to read this book once I learned of its release in late October/early November 2019. I read my first Michael Eric Dyson book back in June and loved it. So I was intrigued to see what this Jay-Z book was going to be about. This leads me to my brief synopsis. I don't know what I was really expecting within the pages of this book. Maybe a biography? Instead, you find an academic assessment of JayZ, Jay-Z, and Sean Carter. You must read the book to understand why I list all three names for the rapper who many consider The G.O.A.T. Dyson does this assessment on Jay-Z's life as it's evolved, black life in America, social injustice and more based on various lyrics in Jay-Z's musical career. Many well-known names accompany this assessment. Did I know Dyson was that much a fan of Jay-Z or even rap? No, but I should have known there was some level of fandom based on the book I did read by him earlier this year. I chose to listen to it on Audible and it was narrated by Dyson himself. This was truly enjoyable. Dyson succeeds again on starting the conversation of seeing things from the Black perspective. At times, I felt I had no clue about what Hip-Hop really is. The hope it gives, the bridge it creates, and the legacy it solidifies. I, like many others, get lost in the beat and forget to truly listen to the words. Not just hear them. While every artist isn't looking to change the world, most if not all, are telling a story. Be it fictional or non-fictional. It's a story-telling, reaching generations destined to fail until now. That might seem like a far-reaching idea. Probably because it doesn't apply to you. In that case, just try to have an open mind when reading this book. As far as what spoke to my soul, I would most definitely say it's the importance of music. It's another form of escape, no different than reading a book. Just as in reading, you want to hear of people who look just like you, have troubles just like you, and overcome those just like you. Or maybe you want to change the narrative of success and hear of it in the music you listen to. Instead of judging what's being "glorified" actually listen to what's being said. You just might learn something. The next idea that spoke to my soul is to use your platform for good. No matter what platform you have, make it a goal change the narrative of what it is to be a human in this world. Let that sink in, because no matter what beliefs you ascribe to small steps lead to ground-breaking changes. How would you feel knowing you contributed to changing the course of history for the better? The final idea that spoke to my soul is never betray yourself because of how others expect you to live. There are many paths to success. Some more dangerous than others. Focus on the end result and maintain pure intentions. This ended up being my last read of 2019. Surprising read, but not disappointing. As Always, #HappyReading

  17. 5 out of 5

    KamariLyrikal

    As an admirer of Jay Z's work, I couldn't wait to read this book. This is like a tribute, an award, a thank you, a gift, a way to show appreciation to a legend. It touched on all major parts of his life and broke down some of his most controversial lyrics. It even broke down his lyrics when he confessed his infidelity issues. Through this book, Michael Dyson is showing appreciation now, while he is alive, which is what I love. For fans of Jay Z this is confirming information we already knew but a As an admirer of Jay Z's work, I couldn't wait to read this book. This is like a tribute, an award, a thank you, a gift, a way to show appreciation to a legend. It touched on all major parts of his life and broke down some of his most controversial lyrics. It even broke down his lyrics when he confessed his infidelity issues. Through this book, Michael Dyson is showing appreciation now, while he is alive, which is what I love. For fans of Jay Z this is confirming information we already knew but are happy to be reminded about. There were several other people mentioned in this book but it all tied back to Jay Z. Michael did a great job putting this together. I would give it a 3.5, but no 1/2's on goodreads.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Carey Calvert

    I wondered how long it would take preeminent scholar Michael Eric Dyson to somehow swing the narrative of Jay Z: Made in America, to himself. It took longer than I expected; approximately 180 pages in of a 200 page paen to Hov as Dyson attempts to tie MLK's, Cosby's and R Kelly's many moral failings, despite the good each has mustered. ... but why a book on Jay now? He's not releasing anything of consequence and has already secured his place in the pantheon of hip hop. Jay Z's own memoir/autobio I wondered how long it would take preeminent scholar Michael Eric Dyson to somehow swing the narrative of Jay Z: Made in America, to himself. It took longer than I expected; approximately 180 pages in of a 200 page paen to Hov as Dyson attempts to tie MLK's, Cosby's and R Kelly's many moral failings, despite the good each has mustered. ... but why a book on Jay now? He's not releasing anything of consequence and has already secured his place in the pantheon of hip hop. Jay Z's own memoir/autobiography, Decoded, is already 10 years old and Greenburg's Empire State of Mind; How Jay Z went from Street Corner to Corner Office was released in 2015. Jay Z: Made in America shouldn't be the book to discuss Lemonade or 4:44 alone, although Dyson's analysis is illustrative of the bond between Jay and his superstar spouse. Not much new ground is covered here but Dyson's annotated discography, fundamental to the book, provides clarity and context. Jay Z Made in America is a book for intellectuals - of The Ballad of the Fallen Soldier, Dyson writes "the song is a phenomenology of existential dread," - who've finally caught on; for gentrified Brooklyn and the like to understand in all its complexity its King of New York who transcended crack to the boardroom; the 40/40 to MoMa.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lindsey Keys White

    WORTHINESS Jay-Z, otherwise known as Shawn Carter, has made it in America. Literally and figuratively. He is one of the few black billionaires in this country. Michael Eric Dyson poignantly reminds us that all of his success started with…the hustle. That hustle, whether blight or bright, is unequivocally all American. From the jump, this book reminds the reader that Mr. Carter made the best of bad options. Is that worthy of celebration? Is he really a poet laureate of this country? Can we as Amer WORTHINESS Jay-Z, otherwise known as Shawn Carter, has made it in America. Literally and figuratively. He is one of the few black billionaires in this country. Michael Eric Dyson poignantly reminds us that all of his success started with…the hustle. That hustle, whether blight or bright, is unequivocally all American. From the jump, this book reminds the reader that Mr. Carter made the best of bad options. Is that worthy of celebration? Is he really a poet laureate of this country? Can we as Americans view him as a true artist, thinker, and ultimate action taker? Damn right. You can, and we should!!! This book does justice to the evolution of Jay-Z as an entertainer, poet, humanitarian, entrepreneur, and social justice representative. It highlights Black intelligence and the indelible link to wealth, power, and politics. It solidifies Jay-Z as an innovator and influencer, not just of hip-hop culture, but American culture. He, as a bonafide poet, has hustled his way into the mainstream with rhymes that highlight the underbelly of American urban life. He does this not for glorification, but clarification, with an earnestness to seek mutual understanding and empathy. All in all, I can recommend this book because I am a true fan of Jay-Z and his lyrical body of work. He is a true lyricist. And he does everything from his head. But, if you want to catch sparks of discussion on Blackness vs. Anti-Blackness, toxic masculinity, infidelity, cooperative economics, gentrification and lastly the promulgation of hip hop into the future it is all there. It’s there, woven ever so delicately into the story of a man with the uncanny ability to wax-poetic and hustle American culture like nobody’s business. @drlitrx

  20. 4 out of 5

    Nada

    Not really into Jay-Z for a variety of reasons but Dyson did it again and made me reflect on Jay's artistry in a total different way and for some reason it worked; I ended up having a little bit more appreciation to his musical contribution. I can't deny that Dyson's vocab could be tiresome for some to read but personally, this book flows easier than his previous works. I listened to the audio-book which is better in my opinion. Dyson doesn't offer biographical take on his personal nor business Not really into Jay-Z for a variety of reasons but Dyson did it again and made me reflect on Jay's artistry in a total different way and for some reason it worked; I ended up having a little bit more appreciation to his musical contribution. I can't deny that Dyson's vocab could be tiresome for some to read but personally, this book flows easier than his previous works. I listened to the audio-book which is better in my opinion. Dyson doesn't offer biographical take on his personal nor business life, rather he focuses on his music and legacy to present politically (and racially) charged kind of book. However, one ill comment about Michael Jackson that made me deduct one star because I expect someone in Dyson's caliber to not speak on something without prior knowledge. He mentions the false allegations against Michael Jackson in the same sentence as R. Kelly. There's no ground for the allegations against Michael Jackson, and he was found not guilty in the court of law, which is not the case with the likes of R. Kelly so to use him as another example for celebrities who could be muted is not only unfair but not even right in such context. Read about the false allegations here also check this vital article here .

  21. 5 out of 5

    Shannan Harper

    Although I'm not a rap fan, nor can I name the title of a song by Jay-Z, I thought this was a very well written and interesting book about Mr. Carter. It's very informative about his life, as well as some other's in the rap community. I surprisingly really enjoyed reading this book. I received a copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All Thoughts and opinions are my own

  22. 5 out of 5

    LeeTravelGoddess

    No Dr. D didn’t throw a little rhyme at the end 😹😹😹!!! I enjoyed this lyrical lesson of, if not THE GOAT, definitely top 5... Jay-Z. I wish there were more books like this on classical Rap & R&B albums. No really because we are such a complexly layered sect of humans so why not give a more in depth glimpse of US! This book was cleverly written as it ebbs and flows in and out what makes Jay-Z such a great talent— especially the people around him. What a testament of he himself and the trials that No Dr. D didn’t throw a little rhyme at the end 😹😹😹!!! I enjoyed this lyrical lesson of, if not THE GOAT, definitely top 5... Jay-Z. I wish there were more books like this on classical Rap & R&B albums. No really because we are such a complexly layered sect of humans so why not give a more in depth glimpse of US! This book was cleverly written as it ebbs and flows in and out what makes Jay-Z such a great talent— especially the people around him. What a testament of he himself and the trials that he endured to become the mogul that he is today! It’s for sure a tops and apart of my library— thoroughly enjoyed this work of art ON Jay’s many artworks! 💚💚💚

  23. 5 out of 5

    Helen

    a tedious read

  24. 4 out of 5

    Alex Bear

    I have only read essays by M.E.D. so this is my first foray into his biographies, and man, is this one of the coolest books I've read. It seems that everyone was expecting a true biography of HOVA, and they were kind of let down. So I recommend listening to any of Dyson's talks on YT or reading a few of his essays to know what you're getting into. Other wise pick up Decoded or Empire State of Mind: How Jay-Z Went From Street Corner to Corner Office. I like how the book speaks on Jay's evolution I have only read essays by M.E.D. so this is my first foray into his biographies, and man, is this one of the coolest books I've read. It seems that everyone was expecting a true biography of HOVA, and they were kind of let down. So I recommend listening to any of Dyson's talks on YT or reading a few of his essays to know what you're getting into. Other wise pick up Decoded or Empire State of Mind: How Jay-Z Went From Street Corner to Corner Office. I like how the book speaks on Jay's evolution as not just an artist but a man, especially on the subject of sexism. I feel it could delve into some of the more homophobic issues into his music in the past though, rather than just giving him a pass now that his mother has come out as a lesbian.

  25. 5 out of 5

    June

    Jay-Z, I care less than a dream to be a rapper I dare, more than a J Timberlake concert he share. Caught Dyson rhyme on radio, His little black book having me in tow. His enthusiasms overflow, but remark of Jay-Z being an intellectual, not overblown. Golden texts dazzle my eyes in a world of silver white. Hustle in song Rap in thump I’m no longer blind.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mckenna Bailey

    jay-z is underrated. this book proves why. the end of the last chapter moved a little far from jay but makes sense for the point dyson was making. great read for hip hop fans or just anyone interested in art’s place in society.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    It's obvious who Dyson's audience is for this book, and it wasn't me. He makes obvious statements based on Jay Z's lyrics that you don't need advanced degrees to understand. He didn't interview Jay Z for the book, so the reader gets no extra insight into the artist. And, Dyson cherry picks lyrics to prove his point, which, in my opinion, weakens his case. I'm not saying Jay Z isn't one of the greats, but selecting lyrical gems from a career as long as Jay Z's isn't hard to do. And, that's all thi It's obvious who Dyson's audience is for this book, and it wasn't me. He makes obvious statements based on Jay Z's lyrics that you don't need advanced degrees to understand. He didn't interview Jay Z for the book, so the reader gets no extra insight into the artist. And, Dyson cherry picks lyrics to prove his point, which, in my opinion, weakens his case. I'm not saying Jay Z isn't one of the greats, but selecting lyrical gems from a career as long as Jay Z's isn't hard to do. And, that's all this book is: selecting lines from songs and bloviating about them ad nauseam.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Cecelia

    This was very misleading. Definitely not a bio, more of an analysis of Jay-Z's lyrics. Very academic, reads like a textbook. And, Dyson strays off topic a lot. The beginning of the book was all about LeBron James, and the end was about MLK, Jr. Dyson did give me a much more thorough understanding and appreciation of Jay-Z's skill and craft. But, overall not a worthwhile read.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Barbara McVeigh

    Thought this books was a biography about Jay-Z. Happily, it is a book of essays regarding Jay-Z’s hustle, poetics, and politics in America. Trying to think of a way to use this book with students. Essays are on the long side and the American context would need to be contrasted to Canada’s.

  30. 5 out of 5

    J.W. Martin

    The good people at NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press provided me with a digital ARC of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’ve always had respect for Jay-Z. I haven’t been a listener since the beginning, but I started tuning in about 15 years ago. Anyone who can get to the top of the charts and stay there for DECADES is certainly doing something right. What this book did was show me the side of the story I wasn’t paying attention to. The personal side of Jay-Z. The political side. The good people at NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press provided me with a digital ARC of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’ve always had respect for Jay-Z. I haven’t been a listener since the beginning, but I started tuning in about 15 years ago. Anyone who can get to the top of the charts and stay there for DECADES is certainly doing something right. What this book did was show me the side of the story I wasn’t paying attention to. The personal side of Jay-Z. The political side. The entrepreneur. The freedom fighter. The movement leader. It was so interesting to read about who influenced him and who he’s influenced since. It also talked a little about the beefs he’s had and dug into what rivalries are all about in general. They aren’t nearly as personal as they might seem (not all of them, anyway.) My absolute favourite aspect of this book was a breakdown and a deciphering of many of his lyrics. Truthfully, the meaning in his songs wasn’t buried as deep as I make it seem. I was just terrible at understanding them on my own. If I was a little more curious, I might have looked up things like blight hustle vs bright hustle, but I never did. The references get for more impressive when reading about the reasoning behind them. Any musician can drop Andy Warhol’s name because they heard someone talking about him and knew he was an artist. It’s completely different when you read about Jay-Z’s interest and ownership in fine art. It’s not just a name drop for him. When he says Warhol, it’s a calculated reference. While this isn’t an official biography by any means, it’s such an interesting read for anyone who’s interested in Jay-Z, rap culture, or the music industry as a whole.

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