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Book review: 'The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop' by Dan Charnas
Book review: 'The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop' by Dan Charnas

"Here's a little story that must be told," Dan Charnas writes by way of an ironic introduction to his brick-sized epic, quoting a classic rap lyric. "The Big Payback" is ostensibly the history of the business of hip-hop, but in its ambitious scope (it starts with no less than America's first treasurer, Alexander Hamilton) and exhaustive detail (what songs were played on Harlem's 125th Street the eve of Obama's election), Charnas' 660-page book ends up being one of the most comprehensive, and certainly one of the longest, printed accounts of the music itself. That intertwining of commerce and art is one of the author's main points: Since...

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