Come have a laugh at my expense tonight: I’ll be telling my personal stories from the “Baby Got Back” era tonight at The Soundtrack Series (alongside luminaries like Maura Johnston and Sasha Frere-Jones) at New York City’s Le Poisson Rouge (The Red Fish, for you Freedom Fries folks), 158 Bleecker Street in money makin’ Manhattan.
PICTURED: The “Butt Balloon” makes its street debut in San Francisco, February 1992; and it’s Hollywood debut in the movie “Falling Down” with Michael Douglas.
On Friday, I’ll be heading to SxSW in Austin, Texas for two panels.
Saturday at 11a, Steve Stoute and I will be having a conversation about America’s multiracial future.
And a few hours later, at 1:30p, myself and Tony Cornelius — son of the legendary Don Cornelius — will celebrate the legacy of Soul Train with some moving and incredible clips from the show’s 35 year history.
See you there. Hit me up at @dancharnas on the Twitters. And read a bit of my interview with Chase Hoffberger in the Austin Chronicle here:
“Don’t say multicultural,” Russell Simmons once told journalist Dan Charnas. “Say multiracial. It’s one culture.”
Simmons is partially responsible for the latter point being more true today than it’s ever been. As the founder of pioneering hip-hop label Def Jam Recordings, he played an integral role in black music crossing over into mainstream culture. Think the Beastie Boys, Run-DMC remixing Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way,” or LL Cool J’s premiere on MTV.
Dan Charnas reported on all of it for The Source, the first major-market magazine to exclusively cover hip-hop. Last year, he published the mind-bendingly detailed The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop, a 672-page analysis of every rap deal that made America the colorful society it is today. He knows a thing or two about the power of the crossover.
The new book that I co-authored with Bill Adler and Cey Adams — Def Jam: The First 25 Years Of The Last Great Record Label (Rizzoli) — is out this week. (Click HERE to buy the book.) So much more than a “coffee table” book, it’s a comprehensive oral history of the label. The book is being feted around New York in the coming week.
Tomorrow night, Paul Holdengraber will host a conversation at the New York Public Library with Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons (the first time, I believe that those two have ever appeared together in public for such a discussion). The event, as of now, is sold out.
Then, on Monday, Bill, Cey and I will have a considerably more low-key discussion at NYU — fitting in that Def Jam actually started there.
Music criticism may be going the way of the CD in the Internet age, as critics no longer have much of a lead on fans in procuring new music, and fans have more platforms than ever to share their opinions directly with each other. We have, alas, become the squeezed-out middlemen.
But folks my age remember a time not so long ago when music critics were demigods, holy filters for the good, bad and the ugly.
So it still gives me a little chill when a guy like Robert Christgau — who’s been dubbed the “dean” of music criticism, with good reason — mentions my book.
Thanks to Michaelangelo Matos, the finest of a new generation carrying the critical torch, for hipping me to this one.
Dan Charnas, author of The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop, will be appearing this Saturday, April 30, 2011 at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books alongside renowned music scribes Fred Goodman, Simon Reynolds and Randall Roberts on a panel entitled “In Flux: The Music Biz.” Read the rest of this entry »
In this new installment of my video series for The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop, I discuss a vital factor in the Jay-Z-Damon Dash breakup that you won’t find in Jay-Z’s new book, Decoded, or in any other book for that matter…