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A new Jay-Z book by Michael Eric Dyson will honor hip-hop legend on his 50th birthday

Jay-Z declared first hip-hop billionaire by Forbes, Bronx, USA - 06 Oct 2011
Music mogul Jay-Z watches a baseball game at Yankee Stadium in 2011. Sociologist and prolific author Michael Eric Dyson will honor Jay-Z’s 50th birthday with a book examining the hip-hop legend.
(Justin Lane / EPA/Shutterstock)

Sociologist and prolific author Michael Eric Dyson will help mark Jay-Z’s 50th birthday with a book examining the career of the hip-hop legend and entrepreneur.

St. Martin’s Press will publish “Jay-Z: Made in America” this fall, just days before the favorite son of Brooklyn celebrates his 50th. News of the book was first reported by Entertainment Weekly.

In a news release, the publisher said that Dyson’s book will offer “an in-depth analysis of some of this remarkable artist’s most beloved lyrics.”

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“Jay-Z’s body of work charts an artistic and political response to revived racism and renewed hostility to blackness — it is an auspicious time to examine his ideas, gifts, and impact, to take measure of his stride as a cultural colossus,” the publisher said.

“And there is no one better suited to the task than Michael Eric Dyson, who has investigated and championed hip-hop, and the work of Jay-Z, as a critical American art form, for decades.”

Dyson has written frequently about hip-hop before. His 1993 book, “Reflecting Black: African-American Cultural Criticism” and 1996 essay collection, “Between God and Gangsta Rap: Bearing Witness to Black Culture” both featured his analysis of the musical genre’s impact on African American culture.

Dyson has also written about other hip-hop artists, with titles including “Holler If You Hear Me: Searching for Tupac Shakur” and “Born to Use Mics: Reading Nas’s Illmatic,” the latter of which was an anthology he co-edited with Sohail Daulatzai. Jay-Z wrote the introduction to Dyson’s “Know What I Mean?: Reflections on Hip-Hop,” which was published in 2007.

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The author said in a news release that his new book “is the fruit of a decade of teaching about one of the greatest poets this nation has produced.”

“Jay-Z is not only a remarkable recording artist and ingenious businessman, but he is one of our most gifted wordsmiths whose language drips with all the poetic tricks and skills you’ll find in Walt Whitman, Robert Frost and Rita Dove,” Dyson said. “Jay-Z has given this country a language to think with and words to live by, and his lyrics have shaped the self-understanding of a culture that grapples with race and injustice and inequality everyday.”

Jay-Z first made a splash in the music scene with his 1996 debut album, “Reasonable Doubt.” Two years later, his album “Vol. 2 ... Hard Knock Life” sold millions of copies on the strength of singles like “Can I Get A...” and “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem).”

Ten more albums would follow, including influential ones like “The Blueprint,” “The Black Album” and “Kingdom Come.” In 2018, he released the album “Everything Is Love,” a collaboration with his wife, Beyoncé, under the name “the Carters.”

Dyson told Entertainment Weekly that he thought the timing was right for a book examining Jay-Z’s career.

“In many ways, this is Jay-Z’s America as much as it’s Obama’s America, or Trump’s America, or Martin Luther King’s America, or Nancy Pelosi’s America, or Maxine Waters’ America,” he said. “Jay-Z has given this country a language to think with and words to live by, and his lyrics have shaped the self-understanding of a culture that grapples with race and injustice and inequality everyday. He’s an important thinker and artist, and my book tries to measure his impact and acknowledge his greatness.”

“Jay-Z: Made in America” will be published on Nov. 26.

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