Book Review| Jay-Z Made in America by Michael Eric Dyson

Updated: Jan 18


Sean Carter is an American businessman who, before riches, rose to fame due to his unique talent with the English language. The first in his genre of music (Hip-Hop) to reach billionaire status, Carter (aka Jay-Z) has since become a landmark in the African American story of becoming successful in America. A land where the rules weren't exactly built in his favor.


Jay-Z Made In America (220 pgs.) begins with a Foreword written by Pharrell which describes Jay-Z's unique pre-recording preparations and intentional rise to Hip-Hop fame.


Subsequently, the author, Michael Eric Dyson, goes on to introduce Jay-Z from his humble beginnings and argues why his contributions to the political landscape are underrated.


Dyson, a Professor of Sociology at Georgetown, teaches a course on Jay-Z. In this book Dyson takes a thesis-like approach to backup a hypothesis that Jay-Z has substantially played a role in making America what is is today. He argues: Jay-Z's "artistic work has done what some of our most important academic work only aspires to achieve. He speaks to those in the underground economies, and they hear him."


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The pencil illustrations throughout the book are an added treat for the reader and adds an experience that gives insight on Jay-Z's personal growth over the thirty years of his recording career so far. As Dyson divulges how Jay-Z has always weaved politics into his music, the illustrations take the reader on a journey of the rappers physical transformation.



"Jay-z has given this country a language to think with and words to live by." ~Michael Eric Dyson

Dyson brilliantly takes the time to analyze (mostly) popular Jay-Z song lyrics then references political landscapes that correlate common themes surrounding black culture. Nevertheless, the timeline of the lyrics doesn't always align with the political history referenced. Dyson argues Jay-Z has alway been ahead of his time. Add in the long winded paragraphs that couple the main subject with current influencers such as Lebron James and Barrack Obama and it's easy to get lost in the words. This read is better digested slowly, much like Jay's lyrics.



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Chapter Synopsis:

(Chapter Title/ROTR digest)


Allow Me to Re-Introduce Myself/ "Jay-Z is America at it's scrappy...soulful, ingenious best."

I'm the Definition of it/ Defining the "Hustle", there's levels to it

I paint Pictures with Poems/ "He speaks to those in the underground economies..."

Somewhere in America/ Unabashed "woke" capitalist aspirations

What's Better Than One Billionaire?/ Warren Buffett appreciates Jay-Z



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Happy Reading Friends!

Xoxoxoxoxox,

ROTR