Last year, record executive and entrepreneur Steve Stoute released a book titled The Tanning of America: How Hip-Hop Created a Culture That Rewrote the Rules of the New Economy that detailed all the ways hip-hop has permeated popular culture, and the effect that has had on the world at large. Now, VH1 is teaming up Billy Corben — the director of Cocaine Cowboys, The U, and Broke — to develop a four-part, four-hour documentary series based on the book, titled The Tanning Of America: One Nation Under Hip Hop, that will examine hip-hop as a cultural movement, and will feature interviews with everyone from hip-hop legends like Dr. Dre, Russell Simmons, Rick Rubin, to political figures like Cory Booker and Al Sharpton, to entertainment and business moguls like Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, and Tommy Hilfiger.
Personally, I was on-board at “four-hour hip-hop documentary directed by Billy Corben,” but if you need a bit more of a hard sell, allow me to direct your attention to this paragraph from the press release:
Through engaging and intimate first person stories, “Tanning” takes viewers where they’ve never been before: inside a steamy Madison Square Garden, when Russell Simmons cut a deal with Adidas sneakers during a Run DMC concert … inside the Harvard dorm room where two white Jewish kids decide to start The Source magazine … inside the car of fashion icon Tommy Hilfiger, as he drives through the streets of Harlem finding inspiration in baggy jeans … to the streets of Paris as Diddy takes over Europe for a Vogue fashion shoot … to a New York music studio where Mariah Carey collaborates with O.D.B, forever fusing pop and hip hop; and with Dr Dre as he first hears a rapper who calls himself Eminem.
Oh man, speaking of ODB and music studios, do you guys know the story about how he ended up with a verse on “Ghetto Supastar” from the Bulworth soundtrack? See, ODB walked into the Los Angeles studio Pras was using for the song, somehow under the mistaken impression that it was a studio in New York City that he had booked, and asked if he could be on it anyway once he heard the chorus. That is such a great story. I don’t know if it has anything to do with hip-hop changing American culture or rewriting the rules of the new economy, but it is funny as all hell, and I think that’s important, too.
Anyway, The Tanning Of America: One Nation Under Hip Hop is set for a February 2014 premiere. Set your DVRs.