PERFORMING ARTS

Jay-Z: Made in America

St. Martin’s. Nov. 2019. 240p. discog. bibliog. ISBN 9781250230966. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250270887. MUSIC
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“[A]s transcendent a cultural icon as Frank Sinatra, as adventurous a self-made billionaire as Mark Zuckerberg, as gifted a poet as Walt Whitman.” Dyson’s (What Truth Sounds Like) laudatory biography places Jay-Z at the center of our cultural, social, and political times. The author’s effusiveness comes through on every page, which—in lesser hands—would make this title one long fan letter, but it’s a tribute to Dyson’s prowess that he so effectively gives dimension and relevant context to each thoughtful interpretation of the artist’s work, while his always fascinating tangents add depth. Under Dyson’s guidance, to read about Jay-Z is to learn not just about the journey and works but also about ourselves, our history, our world, and our way forward.
VERDICT This is more than a hip-hop bio; Dyson is giving us something larger, and we are sitting in a classroom under the spell of a captivating teacher.

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