Dirty South: OutKast, Lil Wayne, Soulja Boy, and the Southern Rappers Who Reinvented Hip Hop

Ben Westhoff, Chicago Review, $14.95 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-56976-606-4
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." (May)
Reviewed on: 02/14/2011
Release date: 05/01/2011
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