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

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Penguin, Nov 1, 2011 - Music - 672 pages
“There has never been a better book about hip-hop…a record-biz portrait that jumps off the page.”—A.V. Club


The Big Payback
takes readers from the first $15 made by a “rapping DJ” in 1970s New York to the multi-million-dollar sales of the Phat Farm and Roc-a-Wear clothing companies in 2004 and 2007. On this four-decade-long journey from the studios where the first rap records were made to the boardrooms where the big deals were inked, The Big Payback tallies the list of who lost and who won. Read the secret histories of the early long-shot successes of Sugar Hill Records and Grandmaster Flash, Run DMC's crossover breakthrough on MTV, the marketing of gangsta rap, and the rise of artist/ entrepreneurs like Jay-Z and Sean “Diddy” Combs.

300 industry giants like Def Jam founders Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons gave their stories to renowned hip-hop journalist Dan Charnas, who provides a compelling, never-before-seen, myth-debunking view into the victories, defeats, corporate clashes, and street battles along the 40-year road to hip-hop's dominance.



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To one-star reviewer: apparently Charnas got that info from Russell Simmons himself. "The working title was Rap Attack and Russell described that the first draft was “as much about a white girl trying to break into the music business as it was about the New York rap scene.” Russell’s original concept was to base the story on the real life of June Bug (a Disco Fever DJ who was killed- Run DMC’s first album is dedicated to him). After the rewrites it eventually came to the story we know today."
This book is incredible.

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

I don't know where the author got his information, but the section about Krush Groove is riddled with untruths. I did not write a script with a "white girl" as the lead. If the remainder of this book is equally inaccurate I wouldn't recommend it as a "history" of anything.


Note from the Author
Genius of
The Beat
HipHop Nation
Where HipHop Lives
Cops Rappers

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About the author (2011)

Dan Charnas, a veteran of the hip-hop music business, began his career scouting talent and promoting records for seminal rap label Profile Records and for Rick Rubin’s Def American Recordings. He penned some of the first cover stories for The Source magazine and was part of a generation of young writers who helped create hip-hop journalism. His writing has appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Press, and the Village Voice. He also worked as a segment producer for MTV’s The Lyricist Lounge Show. Charnas holds a master’s degree from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and was awarded a Pulitzer fellowship. He was born and lives in New York City.

From the Hardcover edition.

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