Monday, April 4, 2011
"Dirty South" features OutKast, Lil Wayne, Soulja Boy and more
Southern rap has dominated the airwaves, challenging the authority and coastal dominance of the scene since the early-2000s—and while it’s clearly appealing to the masses, its emergence has been contentious in the hip-hop world. In 2007, original West Coast gangsta rapper Ice-T accused viral-success-story Soulja Boy of “single-handedly” killing hip-hop, and he wasn’t alone in his ire. But of Billboard’s 2009 year-end top 40 rap songs, 75 percent of them featured southern artists. In Dirty South: OutKast, Lil Wayne, Soulja Boy, and the Southern Rappers Who Reinvented Hip-Hop (Chicago Review Press, May 2011), journalist Ben Westhoff explores the genre that is often thought of as “simple” or lacking a message. Including interviews with key figures like Luke Campbell (the “godfather of southern rap music”), Big Boi of OutKast, Memphis trailblazers Eightball & MJG, and Houston legend Scarface, Dirty South shares the stories of acts that put southern rap on the map. Having traveled throughout the south—from Lil Wayne’s Hollygrove neighborhood to DJ Screw’s tape shop—Westhoff dissects the histories and influences of artists and producers from hotspots like Atlanta, Miami, Houston, New Orleans and St. Louis. He delves into the notable career trajectories of Nelly, Timbaland and the Neptunes, Geto Boys, T-Pain, the Hot Boys, T.I., and many others. Westoff engagingly tells of the creation of such acts as the 2 Live Crew and breakthrough labels Rap-a-Lot, No Limit and Cash Money; southern gangsta Gucci Mane’s jailtime and his collaboration-turned-rivalry with fellow Atlantan Young Jeezy; the sudden rise of Soulja Boy; Lil Jon’s crunk takeover; and how Houston’s candy-painted, diamond-grilled scene dominated the mid-aughts. Including essential cultural background and details of a changing landscape, Dirty South provides a ground-level look at the emergence of southern rap, granting a searing, honest look at what was basically a grassroots movement that succeeded on its own terms. Peppered with surprising details and insider perspectives that make the growth and revolution of hip-hop a cultural touchstone, Dirty South is a fresh and highly readable account of the scene, the society that fostered it and its effect on the music industry. Ben Westhoff is a former staff writer for St. Louis’ Riverfront Times, whose work has also appeared in the Village Voice, Creative Loafing, Spin and Pitchfork. Also available from Chicago Review Press: How to Rap, 9781556528163 Book Details: Title: Dirty South: OutKast, Lil Wayne, Soulja Boy, and the Southern Rappers Who Reinvented Hip-Hop Author: Ben Westhoff Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Distributed by Independent Publishers Group Publication: May 2011, $14.95 (CAN $16.95), Trade Paper, ISBN: 9781569766064 Music, 240 pages, 5.5 x 8.5 Available at bookstores everywhere and through Independent Publishers Group, 814 N. Franklin St., Chicago, IL 60610. Toll-free number for orders only: 1-800-888-4741. Visit us online at www.ipgbook.com.