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Jay-Z: Made in America

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3.71  ·  Rating details ·  300 ratings  ·  57 reviews
"Dyson's incisive analysis of JAY-Z's brilliance not only offers a brief history of hip-hop's critical place in American culture, but also hints at how we can best move forward." —Questlove

JAY-Z: Made in America is the fruit of Michael Eric Dyson’s decade of teaching the work of one of the greatest poets this nation has produced, as gifted a wordsmith as Walt Whitman,
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Hardcover, 240 pages
Published November 26th 2019 by St. Martin's Press
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Average rating 3.71  · 
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Donna Hines
Nov 02, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, netgalley
"In many ways, this is JAY-Z’s America as much as it’s Pelosi’s America, or Trump’s America, or Martin Luther King’s America. JAY-Z has given this country a language to think with and words to live by."
"This book wrestles with the biggest themes of JAY-Z's career, including hustling, and it recognizes the way that he’s always weaved politics into his music, making important statements about race, criminal justice, black wealth and social injustice. As he enters his fifties, and to mark his
...more
Yesenia Juarez
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Michael Eric Dyson can do no wrong, I loved how he broke down Jay’s lyrics and my most favorite section is when he mentioned Nipsey. Rest In Peace young black King.
Manny
Nov 30, 2019 rated it did not like it
Not my cup of tea. Was looking for a book on the life and success of a great musician and business man. I am a big fan of Jay Z and have been since his early work in music, clothing, liquor, and record empire. I bought this book because it was 2019 and wanted to get the most updated book. However this book turned out to be what I perceived as a politically, racially charged book I did not want to read. I did not finish it so I may have acted in haste, but I really did not feel the content. I ...more
Jenn "JR"
Humans have always been resourceful – they find ways to increase power and status, even when it means inventing and convincing others of the validity of something. For example – at a time when France’s relative power and strength was troubled, Louis XIV basically invented “luxury” lifestyle and merchandise – fabrics, clothing, perfumes and furniture – in the 16th century, and his ambassadors became marketing managers, selling an idea that possessions of a certain quality meant something and ...more
Cristie Underwood
Oct 08, 2019 marked it as kindle
This was such a well researched biography, as there were so many things I learned about Jay-Z by reading this. I love how the author focused on the impact his music has had on our nation politically. Highly recommend!
Chase Preston
Nov 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
Unfortunately this book reads like a secret admirer’s narrative about Jay-Z’s social and political agenda with a few nods to his economic success. I was interested in hearing more about his life story with personal insights on the challenges he had to overcome to rise to the top. Yet this book just reinforces the impact he had on society, and all the problems with the world today. Where the Beastie Boys book succeeded, this one failed.
LiteraryMarie
Nov 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Your fave could never be labeled one of the best poets ever. Your fave would not publicly apologize to his wife via a whole album. Your fave is not the fifth black billionaire. Surely your fave could not stay relevant for so long. Your fave just cannot. Periodt.

From rap to boardroom to his own lane, JAY-Z is deeper than just a former street hustler turned rapper. He beat the odds! So when I got the opportunity to read and review an advance copy of JAY-Z: Made in America, being the superfan that
...more
Carey Calvert
Dec 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
I wondered how long it would take preeminent scholar Michael Eric Dyson to somehow swing the narrative of Jay Z: Made in America, to himself. It took longer than I expected; approximately 180 pages in of a 200 page paen to Hov as Dyson attempts to tie MLK's, Cosby's and R Kelly's many moral failings, despite the good each has mustered.

... but why a book on Jay now? He's not releasing anything of consequence and has already secured his place in the pantheon of hip hop. Jay Z's own
...more
Laura Forbes
Jan 11, 2020 rated it liked it
Very dense. Will probably read again but need some fluff in the meantime. Learned a lot.
Arlo
Dec 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
My first time reading Dyson and his prose is as good as his oratory skills. I was hoping to be immersed in his class on Jay Z by reading the book, but in actuality he just skims the surface. The book is about Jay Z, but uses some anecdotes about him to focus on macro issues within the black community and Jay's role as a historical figure. There's some controversial stuff towards the end where he draws parallels of Jay's infidelity and MLK and black sexuality that ties into the hypocritical ...more
Marvin
Dec 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Michael Eric Dyson is a master wordsmith, brilliant scholar and provocative cultural critic. Being a longtime fan of both Dyson's work and Jay-Z, picking up this book was a no-brainer. That said, I expected a lot more from this book. Nothing here felt particularly new or groundbreaking, it almost felt like something that could've been condensed and published in an online essay. I will say that I've read and learned a lot about Jay-Z over the years, so maybe this book wasn't intended for me. ...more
Anthony Locke
Dec 18, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
Was hoping for more of a biography, but Dyson's book was a cultural analysis of Jay-Z's influence on hip hop culture, American culture at large, and social justice movements. The book reads a bit more like a series of long-form articles than a biography. Got to learn a bit about Jay-Z as an artist, politician, and social justice advocate.
Erika
Jan 02, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think I used all of my brain power for 2020 trying to keep up with Dyson's remarkable vocabulary. I loved the concept of the book. I didn't love the execution of it.
Helen
Dec 14, 2019 rated it did not like it
a tedious read
Corey Burton
Dec 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
Decent read...it wasn't what I thought it was going to be. It was cool to hear about his love of and admiration of Jay Z and his lyrics and mentality, but I thought it would be more....Maybe I thought Jay Z himself would be reflected more and have commentary? It was underwhelming, though worth the read. I also haven't really studied Jay Z's lyrics, but after reading this, I really want to delve deeper. My favorite quote/lyric was "to be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you ...more
Peggy
Oct 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An in depth look at one of the most enduring poets of our time. The history of hip hop is a big part of this story.
Entertaining, enjoyable and fascinating.
I loved it.
Mary Sisney
Jan 09, 2020 rated it it was ok
This book by one of my favorite public intellectuals made me realize that I was smart to keep my academic and pop culture interests separate. Although I was the pop culture expert in my department (the one who read People and Us, watched "Entertainment Tonight" and many of the awards shows and so knew most of the celebrity gossip), I was never tempted to write an article or book on anything related to pop culture (I did write an interesting sociolinguistics graduate paper on the talk show ...more
Tracey Robinson
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: our-history
This was the last #ourstory read for 2019. I knew I wanted to read this book once I learned of its release in late October/early November 2019. I read my first Michael Eric Dyson book back in June and loved it. So I was intrigued to see what this Jay-Z book was going to be about. This leads me to my brief synopsis.

I don't know what I was really expecting within the pages of this book. Maybe a biography? Instead, you find an academic assessment of JayZ, Jay-Z, and Sean Carter. You must read the
...more
Marion Hill
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned, 2019-reads
I love getting books as Christmas gifts especially from my 10-year-old daughter. This year’s Christmas gift is Jay-Z (Made In America) by Michael Eric Dyson.

I will confess upfront that Jay-Z is not my favorite rapper and I have not listened to a lot of his music. My favorite rappers are Big Daddy Kane and Rakim. I believe they are the best two rappers I have ever heard handle the mic in 48 years I have been on this planet. However, they have never achieved the cultural impact that Jay-Z has
...more
Jsavett1
Jan 08, 2020 rated it liked it
I really wanted to love this. I’ve enjoyed reading Dyson for years and listening to Jay for even more. So how could this not be a classic?

It’s a little confusing.

Firstly, I was coming at this book a LITTLE bit expecting something similar to Hanif Abdurraqib’s Go Ahead In The Rain, his absolutely gorgeous book about A Tribe Called Quest, his own listening experiences and the context of Tribe’s music.

But I should have known better.

You can’t send an academic to do a poet’s job.

Abdurraqib is a
...more
John Pehle
Jan 06, 2020 rated it liked it
This is a relatively small book with a lot packed into it. At times, Dyson's observations and connections left me wandering in the desert (though familiar, I am not steeped in the Jay-Z canon) but the book finished strong. I am glad I read it as it furthered my effort to get some understanding of the cultural challenges that have grown out of nearly half a century of ingrained racism in our nation. By dissecting Jay-Z's work, Dyson connects it to Jay's beginnings, his growth as an artist, and ...more
Dre
Dec 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
"The Michael Corleone of the microphone | The Michaelangelo of flow, I paint pictures with poems."
- Jay-Z

"Jay can protect the complex and coded conversations he has in his music, for instance, with folk who are still hustling or with those whose racial struggles tie them to him. And then, at his discretion, he can, as the title of his memoir suggests, decode his work, both for those who are new to his lyrics and for those who wonder just what he may have had in mind as they pour over his
...more
Matt Fitz
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Disclaimer. THIS IS NOT A BIOGRAPHY! Readers of MED are probably already familiar that he is a professor of sociology and preacher who grew up out of racial and economic hardships from Detroit Michigan. His ability to speak the streets wrapped up in the erudite language of academics has made him a profound contributor to critical race theory with his evocative words, provocative ideas, and bombastic courage.

This book grooves in nicely with his other works and speaks to how Jay-Z comes to be an
...more
Lindsey Keys White
Dec 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
WORTHINESS


Jay-Z, otherwise known as Shawn Carter, has made it in America. Literally and figuratively. He is one of the few black billionaires in this country. Michael Eric Dyson poignantly reminds us that all of his success started with…the hustle. That hustle, whether blight or bright, is unequivocally all American. From the jump, this book reminds the reader that Mr. Carter made the best of bad options. Is that worthy of celebration? Is he really a poet laureate of this country? Can we as
...more
Sam
Jan 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book - Dyson goes into depth analyzing Jay-Z's career, his lyrics, and his lasting legacy. While this is generally a book that looks at Jay-Z positively, Dyson also looks critically at Jay-Z's infidelity, his partnership with the NFL and elsewhere. In each section, the path Dyson takes to explore connections with historical figures like Martin Luther King, Jr. or contemporaries like Nas are really interesting. This is a biography of Jay-Z's life, but not a year by year retelling ...more
Aisha
Jan 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Michael Eric Dyson is a sociology professor at Georgetown University, where he also teaches a class on Jay-Z. He has an important voice in the debate of racism and writes for The New York Times and The New Republic.

First of all, I want to say that this book is amazingly written. Mr. Dyson is a college professor and you certainly notice that in the way he writes. Not that it's hard to understand, he just has a great way with words.

This book is not just about Jay's great lyrics. It goes into
...more
Greg
Dec 07, 2019 rated it liked it
I like Michael Eric Dyson for being able to jump into the fray of pop-culture-politics and give context to things that otherwise may be lacking perspective.

That said, Dyson’s Afrocentric dissection of Jay is interesting at a larger cultural context but at times I feel even as a 25 year Jay-Z fan that some of the rhymes that Dyson dissects are oversold, and Jay’s more sexist or materialistic lyrics are given a light treatment, when acknowledged at all. I do hate the double standard that non-hip
...more
Mike
Jan 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this exploration of Jay-Z's position in -- and impact on -- society vis-a-vis his music, which Dyson argues has always been political, an argument that is largely successful. It was stirring to revisit so many old songs, recalling memories of where I was and what I was feeling when I had them in heavy rotation.

Dyson further expands the text by using Jay as a vehicle to write other figures like Martin Luther King, Jr., Bill Cosby, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and LeBron James.

The book
...more
Essence Taylor
Dec 31, 2019 rated it liked it
I don't know how I feel about this book. I thought it would be about Jay-Z; which it was, but it was mostly about America, and how it shaped Jay-Z. Hence: made in America part. Other people were mentioned in the book as well, like Biggie, Nas, LeBron James and MLK. Some at great length, which I don't think I liked too much. At one point while reading chapter 3, I felt I was reading about MLK; even though I understand where the author was going: comparing MLK positives and negatives with Jay's.

...more
LeeTravelGoddess
Dec 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
No Dr. D didn’t throw a little rhyme at the end !!!

I enjoyed this lyrical lesson of, if not THE GOAT, definitely top 5... Jay-Z. I wish there were more books like this on classical Rap & R&B albums. No really because we are such a complexly layered sect of humans so why not give a more in depth glimpse of US!

This book was cleverly written as it ebbs and flows in and out what makes Jay-Z such a great talent— especially the people around him. What a testament of he himself and the trials
...more
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Michael Eric Dyson is an American academic, author, and radio host. He is a professor of sociology at Georgetown University.
“Those closer to home have been lashed in the face by a nation that praises white hustle but despises such agency in their darker kin.” 0 likes
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