…a long time from now. I have signed on with Hachette Book Group USA for a tome about the classic L.A. gangsta rap era, from World Class Wreckin’ Cru through the murder of Biggie, with a focus on N.W.A., Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Big Hutch from Above the Law (above), Snoop Dogg, Tupac, and others. Should be a great project. You can look for it in late 2016 or early 2017.
Tonight at 7 pm I’ll be reading from “Dirty South” at aptly-named Williamsburg bookstore Book Thug Nation, 100 N 3rd St. Come on by. I will make you cry and make you laugh.
My new book, Dirty South: OutKast, Lil Wayne, Soulja Boy, and the Southern Rappers Who Reinvented Hip-Hop is finally out. You can get it on Amazon or at your local bookseller (maybe; you know how it is). I have been hustling like a mad man to get the word out about this book, which I put a lot of thought and sweat into. I think it’s really farting good. In any case, thanks for your support, homies!
Dirty South is now available, and in the next two weeks I’ll be in St. Louis, Dallas, Houston, New Orleans, Atlanta, Nashville and Memphis. Check the readings page for more details. Some of the events are very cool — in Atlanta, for example, my reading will be followed by a panel discussion on southern hip hop with Killer Mike, Mr. Collipark, Maurice Garland, and Rodney Carmichael.
I’ve also got NYC and midwest dates on the calendar. Holla!
Dirty South is excerpted in Wall Street Journal’s Speakeasy blog today. The piece is about the practice of “making it rain,” which also documents my journey through Houston nightlife with rapper Trae.
There are dozens of rap songs called “Make It Rain.” Unlike the Tom Waits track of that name, however, these do not concern existential desires for cleansing – they’re about throwing money in the air at strip clubs…
Here’s another excerpt from Dirty South, this time in the Village Voice. This bit focuses on Scarface’s time in a mental institution as a kid. It’s pretty intense.
…Even worse was when they locked him in a foreboding spot called the “quiet room,” which contained little more than a small mattress with no covers. “I spent a lot of time in the quiet room, to the point where if anybody said anything about that quiet room I was like, ‘OK! I’ll be good! I’m not crazy anymore!'”
Oxford American has an excerpt from Dirty South in their latest edition. If you’re not familiar, Oxford American is “The Southern Magazine of Good Writing,” and a few years back published perhaps the best music story I’ve seen, “I Will Forever Remain Faithful: How Lil Wayne helped me survive my first year teaching in New Orleans,” by David Ramsey.
The excerpt from Dirty South comes from its introduction, about my hunt for cross-dressing rapper Ms. Peachez. The magazine’s tag line for the piece is, “Is Southern hip-hop more offensive than Birth of a Nation?”
Ha! You don’t get it, but you will.
The article is not available online, but you can see a preview here.
Publishers Weekly says: “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 “[f]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.”