VH1 to trace ‘the hip-hopification of America’

Run DMC (from left, Joseph “Run” Simmons, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, and Jason Mizell “Jam Master Jay”) pose at the 31st annual Grammy Awards in New York City on March 2, 1988.
(Mark Lennihan / AP)

VH1 will look at hip-hop’s influence on culture with a four-part documentary, the network announced  Wednesday.  

Based on Steve Stoute’s best-selling book, “The Tanning of America: How Hip-Hop Created a Culture That Rewrote the Rules of the New Economy,” VH1’s documentary will provide a visual history of “the hip-hopification of America” -- which Stoute coined in his book as “tanning.”

The series, which falls under the network’s Emmy-winning Rock Doc franchise, will be one-hour episodes that trace hip-hop as a cultural movement and its most pivotal moments of influence in music, film, TV, fashion, business and politics from its origins in the Bronx in the 1970s all the way to the White House.

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Filmmakers Billy Corben and Alfred Spellman (“Cocaine Cowboys,” “Broke,”) have unearthed a wealth of never-before-seen footage from Russell Simmons cutting a deal with Adidas during a Run DMC concert, the Harvard dorm room where the Source magazine was started, Tommy Hilfiger driving around Harlem finding inspiration in baggy jeans, Mariah Carey collaborating with Ol Dirty Bastard and Dr. Dre hearing a kid who goes by the name of Eminem rap for the first time.

The series will also feature interviews with Stoute, Simmons, Hilfiger, Carey, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Dr. Dre,, Pharrell, Nas, Reverend Run, Rick Rubin, Fab 5 Freddy, Jimmy Iovine, Al Sharpton, Cory Booker, Brett Ratner, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and more.

Stoute has worked as a record executive and is the founder of advertising agency Translation. He has also been responsible for brand deals for Jay Z, Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga, Mary J. Blige and Beyoncé. Stoute will serve as executive producer of the series.

“The Tanning of America: One Nation Under Hip Hop”  will premiere in February on VH1.