Synopses & Reviews
Acting as both investigative journalist and irreverent critic, Ben Westhoff journeys across the southern United States in a small Hyundai to document the phenomenon of southern hip-hop. The exclusive interviews with the genre’s prominent players take many formswatching rappers make it rain” in a Houston strip club, partying with The 2 Live Crew’s Luke Campbell, visiting the gritty neighborhoods where T. I. and Lil Wayne grew up, and speaking with DJ Smurf and Ms. Peachez along the way. The celebrated but dark history of Houston’s Rap-A-Lot Records, the lethal rivalry between Atlanta’s Gucci Mane and Young Jeezy, and the venerable Scarface’s memories from time in a mental institution are just a few of the textured and tricky subjects explored.
"Journalist and hip-hop enthusiast Westhoff delivers a fascinating exploration of the musical and personal terrain of what has come to be known as the Southern sound of rap by such artists as Lil Wayne, Young Jeezy, and Ludacris. Westhoff convincingly details how Southern rap music 'party music, full of hypnotic hooks and sing-along choruses' took over from dominant East Coast and West Coast rap styles by replacing 'ormal rap structures and metaphor-heavy rhymes... in favor of chants, grunts and shouts.' In fact, the beauty of Westhoff's descriptions of the genre as a whole and various songs in particular will make old fans as well as newbies want to search out and play classic CDs such as OutKast's 'Aquemini' and 'Kings of Crunk' by Lil Jon. And Westhoff's personal trips to the home bases of each artist he presents show how the personalities of the artists reinforce their music, which leads to scenes such as Lil Wayne's equally impassioned and hilarious defense of his fast-paced, workaholic lifestyle: 'What am I supposed to do, take a vacation? This is the vacation right here.' (May)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
About the Author
Ben Westhoff is a former staff writer for St. Louiss Riverfront Times, whose work has also appeared in the Village Voice, Creative Loafing, Spin, and Pitchfork.