Dirty South reveals the roots of southern rap, examining the groundbreaking artists and labels who have changed hip-hop – and the scene’s haters
“Ben Westhoff possesses the ear of a skilled hip-hop critic, the cadence of a poet, and the nerves of a pro boxer. Dirty South reveals not just the grit and spirit of Southern hip-hop, but the intensity of old-fashioned shoe-leather reporting--mixed with a dash of Gonzo journalism for good measure.” --Mara Shalhoup, author of BMF: The Rise and Fall of Big Meech
and the Black Mafia Family“Ben Westhoff brings journalism back to hip-hop, and hip-hop back to journalism, by reclaiming the lost art of reporting. As a result, Dirty South is a most fascinating trip through Southern hip-hop’s origins and current reign. Great book.” --Dan Charnas, author of The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop
“Journalist and hip-hop enthusiast Westhoff delivers a fascinating exploration… 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.” –Publishers Weekly
CHICAGO: Southern rap dominates the airwaves, and has challenged the authority and coastal dominance of the scene since the early-2000s. While it’s clearly appealing to the masses, its cultural significance has been hotly debated, and 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.
Acting as both investigative journalist and irreverent critic, Westhoff journeys across the southern United States in a small Hyundai, and the exclusive interviews with the genre’s prominent players take many forms—watching rappers “make it rain” in a Houston strip club, partying with Luke Campbell, visiting the gritty neighborhoods where T. I. and Lil Wayne grew up, and speaking with popular-but-derided artists 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.
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.
“I love this book. It’s a real in-depth look into southern hip hop history, and loaded with facts. Recommended for hip hop music lovers.” --8Ball, southern rap pioneer, member of duo 8Ball & MJG
Ben Westhoff is a former staff writer for St. Louis’ Riverfront Times, who has also written for Village Voice, Creative Loafing, Spin and Pitchfork. His web site is benwesthoff.com
Also available from Chicago Review Press:
How to Rap, 9781556528163