Hot Best Seller

Jay-Z: Made in America

Availability: Ready to download

"Dyson's incisive analysis of JAY-Z's brilliance not only offers a brief history of hip-hop's critical place in American culture, but also hints at how we can best move forward." —Questlove 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, "Dyson's incisive analysis of JAY-Z's brilliance not only offers a brief history of hip-hop's critical place in American culture, but also hints at how we can best move forward." —Questlove 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


Compare

"Dyson's incisive analysis of JAY-Z's brilliance not only offers a brief history of hip-hop's critical place in American culture, but also hints at how we can best move forward." —Questlove 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, "Dyson's incisive analysis of JAY-Z's brilliance not only offers a brief history of hip-hop's critical place in American culture, but also hints at how we can best move forward." —Questlove 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

    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 "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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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 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

  4. 4 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 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

    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!

  6. 5 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.

  7. 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

  8. 5 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 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.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Laura Forbes

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

  10. 4 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 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

    Marvin

    Michael Eric Dyson is a master wordsmith, brilliant scholar and provocative cultural critic. Being a longtime fan of both Dyson's work and Jay-Z, picking up this book was a no-brainer. That said, I expected a lot more from this book. Nothing here felt particularly new or groundbreaking, it almost felt like something that could've been condensed and published in an online essay. I will say that I've read and learned a lot about Jay-Z over the years, so maybe this book wasn't intended for me. Michael Eric Dyson is a master wordsmith, brilliant scholar and provocative cultural critic. Being a longtime fan of both Dyson's work and Jay-Z, picking up this book was a no-brainer. That said, I expected a lot more from this book. Nothing here felt particularly new or groundbreaking, it almost felt like something that could've been condensed and published in an online essay. I will say that I've read and learned a lot about Jay-Z over the years, so maybe this book wasn't intended for me. Also, I've read some of Dyson's writing's on other public figures like Marvin Gaye, Tupac and Martin Luther King were I found his analysis fresh and his critiques bold and new. Much of this book felt like an overview of things I already knew and lyrics I already analyzed. I think it would have been more engaging to see Dyson dive deeper and talk a bit more perhaps be a bit more critical of Jay Z. However, I think a conflict of interests exists because unlike, Tupac, Marvin Gaye and MLK, Dyson actually has a relationship with Jay Z, and I'd argue that it makes him a bit softer in his critiques. Overall, it wasn't a bad book, Dyson's analyses are on point, his social commentary is well-informed, it's just that this book felt more like an echo of things we've learned about Jay throughout his career.

  12. 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

  13. 4 out of 5

    Anthony Locke

    Was hoping for more of a biography, but Dyson's book was a cultural analysis of Jay-Z's influence on hip hop culture, American culture at large, and social justice movements. The book reads a bit more like a series of long-form articles than a biography. Got to learn a bit about Jay-Z as an artist, politician, and social justice advocate.

  14. 5 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.

  15. 5 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.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Helen

    a tedious read

  17. 5 out of 5

    Corey Burton

    Decent read...it wasn't what I thought it was going to be. It was cool to hear about his love of and admiration of Jay Z and his lyrics and mentality, but I thought it would be more....Maybe I thought Jay Z himself would be reflected more and have commentary? It was underwhelming, though worth the read. I also haven't really studied Jay Z's lyrics, but after reading this, I really want to delve deeper. My favorite quote/lyric was "to be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you Decent read...it wasn't what I thought it was going to be. It was cool to hear about his love of and admiration of Jay Z and his lyrics and mentality, but I thought it would be more....Maybe I thought Jay Z himself would be reflected more and have commentary? It was underwhelming, though worth the read. I also haven't really studied Jay Z's lyrics, but after reading this, I really want to delve deeper. My favorite quote/lyric was "to be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment." I also liked the following observation : "As with Jay's hustler (in American Dreamin), black folks' lives have been shaped by restrictions on social mobility, economic prosperity, employment opportunities, and housing prospects." It simply didn't go deeper and felt more like a listing of lyrics and commentary on his lyrics.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Peggy

    An in depth look at one of the most enduring poets of our time. The history of hip hop is a big part of this story. Entertaining, enjoyable and fascinating. I loved it.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mary Sisney

    This book by one of my favorite public intellectuals made me realize that I was smart to keep my academic and pop culture interests separate. Although I was the pop culture expert in my department (the one who read People and Us, watched "Entertainment Tonight" and many of the awards shows and so knew most of the celebrity gossip), I was never tempted to write an article or book on anything related to pop culture (I did write an interesting sociolinguistics graduate paper on the talk show This book by one of my favorite public intellectuals made me realize that I was smart to keep my academic and pop culture interests separate. Although I was the pop culture expert in my department (the one who read People and Us, watched "Entertainment Tonight" and many of the awards shows and so knew most of the celebrity gossip), I was never tempted to write an article or book on anything related to pop culture (I did write an interesting sociolinguistics graduate paper on the talk show audience). In trying to turn Beyoncé's husband into a great poet, the usually eloquent Dyson (he's a pretty good rapper in his television appearances and at times in his books) wrote the following sentence: "Contonymic terms in hip hop tend toward the superlative spectrum of meaning." Say what, Brother Dyson? Could you get your boy Jay-Z to rap that sentence for me so that I can understand it? Dyson is a sociology professor and preacher, so I'm going to pull rank on him and say as an English professor for more than thirty years, I know poetry, and Jay-Z is no poet. I can't judge him as a rapper because I'm not a big fan of rap, but I found one powerfully eloquent and evocative/provocative verse among the many that Dyson quoted: "My God, it's so hard to conceive/But it all falls perfect, I'm like autumn is to trees." The bigger problem with this book is Dyson's bias. He's beyond a Carter/Knowles superfan; he's a cultist, even saying that Beyoncé and Jay-Z are the biggest and blackest couple (he name checked the Obamas but said they'd been quiet). I guess he forgot about my favorite rapper (I told you I wasn't a rap fan) Will Smith and his wife Jada. Or how about Spike Lee and his wife, who I believe has a behind-the-camera role in cinema? Lee covered Katrina much better than Jay-Z did, and he also included the biggest and blackest couple of the 20th Century--Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis--in several of his films. I wish Dyson had looked at why the rappers promoted Trump so much. I know the answer, but he needs to address that problem. They loved Trump because he was just like them--thuggish, a conspicuous consumer with a heavy emphasis on expensive modes of transportation (Trump liked private jets and helicopters; the black rappers like expensive cars) and lots of gold, misogynistic, and shady. Is Trump mimicking the rappers when he name calls, or were they mimicking him in their rap feuds? It's interesting that Dyson seems to prefer the public thugs, not only Jay-Z but R Kelly, to the private one--Bill Cosby. Again, I think the bias is personal, but it prevents Mr. Dyson from using his intellectual skills to figure out his nemesis. Yes, Bill was annoying when he blamed poor black people for what names they give their children, but wasn't he right about the clothing? Remember Trayvon Martin's hoodie? Why did Bill Cosby risk the public persona that he protected so much, the image of black men that he worked so hard to improve, by messing with white women? Why did he want them to be immobile while he pawed them? Was he reversing what white men did? White men put white women on a pedestal and did filthy things with black women. Bill was very respectful of his wife and mother but treated white women like freaky dolls. Did Bill despise these women because he knew that they wouldn't want to be around him if he were Bill Cosby the garbage man or the bus driver, maybe even the doctor? Would Bill have been less freaky if he had shown more anger in public, if he had been more like Dick Gregory or Richard Pryor after he stopped trying to be Bill? I hope a public intellectual, maybe Bill's psychologist friend, will answer those questions. Unfortunately, Mr. Dyson is incapable of looking objectively at this black icon who promoted education through his money and even with a television show set at a historical black college. He prefers a man who brags about hustling and making lots of money; he prefers a former drug dealer. As the black rappers once favorite rich white man might say: "Sad!"

  20. 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 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

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jsavett1

    I really wanted to love this. I’ve enjoyed reading Dyson for years and listening to Jay for even more. So how could this not be a classic? It’s a little confusing. Firstly, I was coming at this book a LITTLE bit expecting something similar to Hanif Abdurraqib’s Go Ahead In The Rain, his absolutely gorgeous book about A Tribe Called Quest, his own listening experiences and the context of Tribe’s music. But I should have known better. You can’t send an academic to do a poet’s job. Abdurraqib is a I really wanted to love this. I’ve enjoyed reading Dyson for years and listening to Jay for even more. So how could this not be a classic? It’s a little confusing. Firstly, I was coming at this book a LITTLE bit expecting something similar to Hanif Abdurraqib’s Go Ahead In The Rain, his absolutely gorgeous book about A Tribe Called Quest, his own listening experiences and the context of Tribe’s music. But I should have known better. You can’t send an academic to do a poet’s job. Abdurraqib is a poet; Dyson is an academic and “Public Intellectual” which I place in quotations not to impugn Dyson’s vibrant intelligence, but because that description is tossed about often, and I’m not exactly sure what it means or entails. At its most literal, I suppose it means that you are someone to whom the public turns when it needs to understand an event, person, or phenomenon. And that’s a perfectly appropriate sobriquet to apply to Dyson. What this book needed was a poet as talented as JAY-Z. Here’s why. At the book’s beginning, Dyson shares his frustration with the blow back he’s experienced in teaching a university course on JAY-Z. He says he’s accused of using the class as a cover for his own social and political agenda, which he thinly veils by claiming he’s talking about what Jay’s music is about. But...but. That’s EXACTLY what Dyson DOES in this book!!! I’d be embarrassed to tell you how many times the name JAY-Z doesn’t appear for pages and pages. Or how many pages are devoted to DYSON’S own critiques of King, Cosby, and R. Kelly! And here’s the thing! I DON’T DISAGREE with almost anything Dyson claims about Race, American History, Economics, or the politics of masculinity. I’m all in. But don’t claim that this is a book primarily about JAY-Z, his music, and his meaning. The positive: I did very much enjoy the flashes of Dyson’s well honed literary mind on display regarding JAY-Z’s lyrics. The most important thing—for me—about some of those analyses was my feeling, on occasion, that Dyson was stretching a lyric well beyond it’s connotative breaking point. Those were really important moments of self-reflection as a literary scholar—I had to own why I might be more inclined to give that stretch a pass if it were from the pen (or mouth) of Bob Dylan, Richard Wilbur, Lucille Clifton, Derek Walcott, Kevin Young, Robert Bly, or Tyehimba Jess.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Marion Hill

    I love getting books as Christmas gifts especially from my 10-year-old daughter. This year’s Christmas gift is Jay-Z (Made In America) by Michael Eric Dyson. I will confess upfront that Jay-Z is not my favorite rapper and I have not listened to a lot of his music. My favorite rappers are Big Daddy Kane and Rakim. I believe they are the best two rappers I have ever heard handle the mic in 48 years I have been on this planet. However, they have never achieved the cultural impact that Jay-Z has I love getting books as Christmas gifts especially from my 10-year-old daughter. This year’s Christmas gift is Jay-Z (Made In America) by Michael Eric Dyson. I will confess upfront that Jay-Z is not my favorite rapper and I have not listened to a lot of his music. My favorite rappers are Big Daddy Kane and Rakim. I believe they are the best two rappers I have ever heard handle the mic in 48 years I have been on this planet. However, they have never achieved the cultural impact that Jay-Z has throughout his three decades long career. Also, I have always been interested in how an artist (irregardless of the artistic medium) taps into their creativity and submits it for public consumption. I heard Professor Dyson speak on the Toure and Barnes & Noble Podcasts about this book. His eloquence and love for Jay-Z’s artistry convinced me to ask for the book as a Christmas gift. Dyson carefully examines the rise of Jay-Z from the Marcy Projects in Brooklyn to becoming hip-hop’s first billionaire. The professor provides proper context to Jay-Z’s musical oeuvre and reveals the art of the hustle as his main artistic theme. Moreover, Dyson shows that Jay-Z had a social conscious to his music from the beginning of his career along with his entrepreneurial spirit. I really enjoyed the detail Dyson writes at length about Jay-Z’s artistic process from beginning a song as a mumble rap until lyrics come from his vivid imagination and experiences from the mean streets of Brooklyn into something that music fans can rock with and get a deeper meaning from simultaneously. Dyson goes further in Jay-Z’s life of social consciousness and his commitment to black culture throughout the 1990s and 2000s. Also, he reveals the rapper’s missteps artistically and personally with his wife, Beyonce and most recently the former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Jay-Z (Made In America) gave me as a reader a better perspective on one of America’s best artists (not just a hip-hop artist). I have learned a lot more about what fuels Shawn Carter’s art and how he has presented it to the world. If you are a Jay-Z fan, then I recommend you get this book. And if you are not a fan of him or hip-hop, then I still recommend this book to you as a study one of the most unlikely American success stories that this country has ever produced.

  23. 4 out of 5

    John Pehle

    This is a relatively small book with a lot packed into it. At times, Dyson's observations and connections left me wandering in the desert (though familiar, I am not steeped in the Jay-Z canon) but the book finished strong. I am glad I read it as it furthered my effort to get some understanding of the cultural challenges that have grown out of nearly half a century of ingrained racism in our nation. By dissecting Jay-Z's work, Dyson connects it to Jay's beginnings, his growth as an artist, and This is a relatively small book with a lot packed into it. At times, Dyson's observations and connections left me wandering in the desert (though familiar, I am not steeped in the Jay-Z canon) but the book finished strong. I am glad I read it as it furthered my effort to get some understanding of the cultural challenges that have grown out of nearly half a century of ingrained racism in our nation. By dissecting Jay-Z's work, Dyson connects it to Jay's beginnings, his growth as an artist, and his engagement in the areas of social justice, politics, art, and big money capitalism. Dyson has provided a lot for us to ponder beyond the stereotypical "rapper beef" story, although he gives us a bit of that, too. Of course, there are a multitudes of both good and evil people committing good and evil acts in the world, but it seems to me that most of life is lived in the gray area of human frailty. Dyson seems address this as he talks about Jay-Z's personal transgressions and growth and compares them to the flaws and redemption of other notables, including R Kelly, Bill Cosby and Dr. King. I think Dyson's own "grayness" reveals itself in his handling of Cosby--I felt he was much more harsh on Cosby (who deserves it) and a little more forgiving of others who also had some pretty serious charges in their "portfolio". The author still manages to get to a good spot from that unclear dichotomy. In the end, the book is dense with analysis and proves to be thought provoking. There are even times when it is a little entertaining.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dre

    "The Michael Corleone of the microphone | The Michaelangelo of flow, I paint pictures with poems." - Jay-Z "Jay can protect the complex and coded conversations he has in his music, for instance, with folk who are still hustling or with those whose racial struggles tie them to him. And then, at his discretion, he can, as the title of his memoir suggests, decode his work, both for those who are new to his lyrics and for those who wonder just what he may have had in mind as they pour over his "The Michael Corleone of the microphone | The Michaelangelo of flow, I paint pictures with poems." - Jay-Z "Jay can protect the complex and coded conversations he has in his music, for instance, with folk who are still hustling or with those whose racial struggles tie them to him. And then, at his discretion, he can, as the title of his memoir suggests, decode his work, both for those who are new to his lyrics and for those who wonder just what he may have had in mind as they pour over his secular scriptures." -Michael Eric Dyson, Jay-Z: Made in America I am a fan of both Michael Eric Dyson and Jay-Z, so it's no surprise that I jumped at the opportunity to read this book as soon as possible. And I'm glad that I did. Jay-Z: Made in America is an in-depth look at the rapper's definition of the hustle, with images of his life and lyrics to reflect that. Not only does Dyson share well-researched facts to support his claims, he also dissects Jay's lyrics bar-for-bar to mirror them. An ode to the artist, or as Dyson often refers to as "poet," this book illuminates the way Jay's music paints pictures in a way that the streets feel acknowledged and the rest of society gets a bird's eye view of a lifestyle far removed from them. Parallels to the lives of basketball star Lebron James and late great musician Nipsey Hussle are also surprisingly noted here. Jay-Z: Made in America gives readers a glimpse of Jay's transition from street hustler to high-profile celebrity by way of his rhymes in a way I could appreciate. However, if you are a big fan of Jay-Z or have listened to his albums over the last 20+ years, you may not find anything new in this book. While this is no biography on Jay, I did expect to see more of his life experiences and how they were reflected in his music noted. But since Jay's hustle and lyricism was the main subject matter, I will give that a pass. Seeing Jay for the poet that he is and going back to listen to his catalog with a renewed perspective makes up for it. I encourage anyone who appreciates the art of Jay-Z's hustle to check out this book, for sure! *3.5 Stars* Special thank you to Dyson, St. Martin's Press, and Netgalley for the ARC of Jay-Z: Made in America in exchange for an honest review.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Matt Fitz

    Disclaimer. THIS IS NOT A BIOGRAPHY! Readers of MED are probably already familiar that he is a professor of sociology and preacher who grew up out of racial and economic hardships from Detroit Michigan. His ability to speak the streets wrapped up in the erudite language of academics has made him a profound contributor to critical race theory with his evocative words, provocative ideas, and bombastic courage. This book grooves in nicely with his other works and speaks to how Jay-Z comes to be an Disclaimer. THIS IS NOT A BIOGRAPHY! Readers of MED are probably already familiar that he is a professor of sociology and preacher who grew up out of racial and economic hardships from Detroit Michigan. His ability to speak the streets wrapped up in the erudite language of academics has made him a profound contributor to critical race theory with his evocative words, provocative ideas, and bombastic courage. This book grooves in nicely with his other works and speaks to how Jay-Z comes to be an iconic American figure in spoken words and corporate success on his own terms. Now fifty years old, Jay-Z has had a 3 decade enduring presence in hip-hop culture that both endure and expand when not many imagined that hip-hop would endure as it has. This book pays homage to that hustle and embraces it where it is often derided. Places it alongside other hustles that have boomed into essentially our current gig economy (what some would call a "white hustle") of Ubers and EBays brought about not BY a cultural shift...but BECAUSE of a cultural shift. Thirty years of living the "hard knock life" bridges the gulf between my own son and me as we appreciate different eras of hip hop culture. We can't (and don't) have that conversation without talking about Jay-Z. I was pretty proud to hand this book off to my son.

  26. 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 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

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    I enjoyed this book - Dyson goes into depth analyzing Jay-Z's career, his lyrics, and his lasting legacy. While this is generally a book that looks at Jay-Z positively, Dyson also looks critically at Jay-Z's infidelity, his partnership with the NFL and elsewhere. In each section, the path Dyson takes to explore connections with historical figures like Martin Luther King, Jr. or contemporaries like Nas are really interesting. This is a biography of Jay-Z's life, but not a year by year retelling I enjoyed this book - Dyson goes into depth analyzing Jay-Z's career, his lyrics, and his lasting legacy. While this is generally a book that looks at Jay-Z positively, Dyson also looks critically at Jay-Z's infidelity, his partnership with the NFL and elsewhere. In each section, the path Dyson takes to explore connections with historical figures like Martin Luther King, Jr. or contemporaries like Nas are really interesting. This is a biography of Jay-Z's life, but not a year by year retelling of how the rapper came to be. Rather, it investigates Jay-Z through a number of different avenues so by the end, you feel like you know a lot about Jay-Z's history, but you also get a sense of more beyond just Jay-Z. The best part about listening to this book was hearing Dyson rap Jay-Z lyrics. The hardest part about listening to the book is I kept wanting to stop to listen to all of the songs Dyson quotes in the book.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Aisha

    Michael Eric Dyson is a sociology professor at Georgetown University, where he also teaches a class on Jay-Z. He has an important voice in the debate of racism and writes for The New York Times and The New Republic. First of all, I want to say that this book is amazingly written. Mr. Dyson is a college professor and you certainly notice that in the way he writes. Not that it's hard to understand, he just has a great way with words. This book is not just about Jay's great lyrics. It goes into Michael Eric Dyson is a sociology professor at Georgetown University, where he also teaches a class on Jay-Z. He has an important voice in the debate of racism and writes for The New York Times and The New Republic. First of all, I want to say that this book is amazingly written. Mr. Dyson is a college professor and you certainly notice that in the way he writes. Not that it's hard to understand, he just has a great way with words. This book is not just about Jay's great lyrics. It goes into depth. What does he want to say and what does it mean in a wider context? What is the historical, sociological and political meaning? Jay-Z is a poet and Michael Eric Dyson shows us how to find that in Jay's lyrics. He breaks down the literal devices that Jay uses and the incredible gift he has. Since I'm Dutch and not American, I also learned a lot about American culture. I really recommend this if you want to broaden your horizons, even if you don't listen to hip hop.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    I like Michael Eric Dyson for being able to jump into the fray of pop-culture-politics and give context to things that otherwise may be lacking perspective. That said, Dyson’s Afrocentric dissection of Jay is interesting at a larger cultural context but at times I feel even as a 25 year Jay-Z fan that some of the rhymes that Dyson dissects are oversold, and Jay’s more sexist or materialistic lyrics are given a light treatment, when acknowledged at all. I do hate the double standard that non-hip I like Michael Eric Dyson for being able to jump into the fray of pop-culture-politics and give context to things that otherwise may be lacking perspective. That said, Dyson’s Afrocentric dissection of Jay is interesting at a larger cultural context but at times I feel even as a 25 year Jay-Z fan that some of the rhymes that Dyson dissects are oversold, and Jay’s more sexist or materialistic lyrics are given a light treatment, when acknowledged at all. I do hate the double standard that non-hip hop has when it comes to violent or sexist content but when discussing the cultural context of Jay, he’s dope but not exactly the carrying the torch of enlightenment in hip hop, but rather pop rap. You’re not going to find the insight of Q-tip “Hip hop, a way of life, It doesn't tell you how to raise a child or treat a wife”. Jay-Z has struggled for two decades to achieve that level of introspection. Tip dropped that line under the age of 25. This isn’t to say Q-Tip is better, I just wish there’d been a bit of a nod given to the underground that gave the foundation for Jay to move the needle commercially... Jay nearly lost his core fan base with his bling era raps and Blueprint probably marks one of the greatest pivots in hip hop, where Jay-Z transcended to a more soulful and self actualized artist. The key for Jay has been able to read and predict the mood of contemporary audiences. Dyson does delve into the ugly parts of his Nas rivalry though with a pretty spot on analysis (sans misattributing a slight to Nas missing a session for Dead presidents which isn’t quite accurate as it was for another song). All in all, I was interested and entertained, and liked the attempts to contextualize Jay in a larger sense but perhaps as a long time fan with pension for lyrical pondering hopes for more enlightenment. Worth reading and depending on your familiarity of Jay’s will determine how much you get from this.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    Really enjoyed this exploration of Jay-Z's position in -- and impact on -- society vis-a-vis his music, which Dyson argues has always been political, an argument that is largely successful. It was stirring to revisit so many old songs, recalling memories of where I was and what I was feeling when I had them in heavy rotation. Dyson further expands the text by using Jay as a vehicle to write other figures like Martin Luther King, Jr., Bill Cosby, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and LeBron James. The book Really enjoyed this exploration of Jay-Z's position in -- and impact on -- society vis-a-vis his music, which Dyson argues has always been political, an argument that is largely successful. It was stirring to revisit so many old songs, recalling memories of where I was and what I was feeling when I had them in heavy rotation. Dyson further expands the text by using Jay as a vehicle to write other figures like Martin Luther King, Jr., Bill Cosby, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and LeBron James. The book came to me as a Christmas gift from my parents, who attended a Q&A at the Carter Center in Atlanta involving Dyson and Killer Mike. My edition is signed by the author. I thank them- and him.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.