Author and Professor Michael Dyson is releasing a book about Jay-Z’s legacy, just in time for the icon’s 50th birthday. The book will touch on the evolution of Jay-Z’s work, and analyze his most famous songs and lyrics.
If you’re not familiar with Michael Dyson and his work, we’ve got that covered for you.
Michael Dyson’s Impact
Michael Dyson has studied hip hop for many years. In the process, he figured out a way to incorporate the culture into his classrooms. He has taught at Chicago Theological Seminary, Brown University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Columbia University, DePaul University, the University of Pennsylvania, and is now a professor at Georgetown University as a sociology professor. Dyson teaches from his own experiences as a black man in America, which is a more intimate way of educating. It comes directly from the person that has went through such journeys.
It’s hard to deny the impact that hip hop has had on our black communities, it’s where it originated. It’s only right that it’s used to educate students about some of the greatest poets that come from similar neighborhoods. To fulfill this, Michael Dyson has written many books about not only just hip hop, but black culture in itself. He talks about this in some of his first books like his 1993 book Reflecting Black: African-American Cultural Criticism and Making Malcolm: The Myth and Meaning of Malcolm X, that become New York Times notable book of the year in 1994.
Between God and Gangsta Rap
Dyson’s first hip hop book was Between God and Gangsta Rap: Bearing Witness to Black Culture, published in 1996. The book talks about church, as Dyson was a Baptist minister at the time, and it also talks about how hip hop isn’t a bad thing. At the time, rap music that was labeled as “gangsta rap” was taken as a threat to the communities. This was because of what they were saying their music. Graphic lyrics are in rap music, because the artists are expressing what happens in their communities on a daily basis. Putting rap music in a negative light was just another way to cover up what was really going on in the black neighborhoods. The book also talks about Dyson’s own life, growing up as a black man in Detroit to becoming a pastor.
In 2001, his book Holler if You Hear Me: Searching for Tupac Shakur was published, the book touched on the rappers life culturally and spiritually. He interviews numerous people about the effect that hip hop has had on America. In 2009 he and Sohail Daulatzai edited Born to Use Mics: Reading Nas’s Illmatic, a book that touched on Nas’s debut album ‘Illmatic’. Dyson and Daulatzai brought writers and critics together such Mark Anthony Neal, Marc Lamont Hill, Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., etc. The writers and critics discussed and analyzed Illmatic song by song; each writer and critic assessed an individual track from the double platinum album.
JAY-Z: Made In America
“I thought this was the perfect time to take a look at Jay-Z’s career and his role in making this nation what it is today, In many ways, this is Jay-Z’s America as much as it’s Obama’s America, or Trump’s America, or Martin Luther King’s America, or Nancy Pelosi’s America, or Maxine Waters’ America,” Dyson told US Weekly in an exclusive interview.
Dyson comparing Jay-Z to Martin Luther King or Obama would seem unusual to some people. What Dyson is trying to acknowledge is the impact and the leadership that these individuals have displayed. Through his poetry and business ventures, Jay-Z has set an example for black men.
The author also said in an exclusive interview with US Weekly “Jay-Z has given this country a language to think with and words to live by, and his lyrics have shaped the self-understanding of a culture that grapples with race and injustice and inequality every day. He’s an important thinker and artist, and my book tries to measure his impact and acknowledge his impact and acknowledge his greatness.”
Michael Dyson has taught a class on Jay-Z for the past decade at Georgetown University. His many years of teaching on the artist is what inspired the making of the book. The book has a foreword written by Jay-Z’s long time friend and music partner Pharrell Williams, and read by Nick Cannon . Jay-Z: Made In America is available for pre-order now, and will be officially released on Nov. 26.