“I can draw a direct line from 1520 Sedgwick Avenue…to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.”
Steve Stoute sets the tone for his upcoming documentary with one statement. Later this month, Stoute and VH1 plan to launch his four-part documentary series The Tanning of America: One Nation Under Hip Hop. Based on his best-selling book, The Tanning of America: How Hip-Hop Created a Culture That Rewrote the Rules of the New Economy, the documentary’s set to examine the relationship between Hip-Hop and America, specifically the role the culture played in paving the way for President Barack Obama to take office.
“Hip-hop is really responsible for breaking down the racial barriers that were up,” Diddy says in the film’s trailer. While that’s far-reaching because so many other acts by previous generations set things in motion, Hip-Hop was the cultural force that helped give the final push for the barriers to go toppling down. And when they fell, Hip-Hop – and it’s cousin rap* – marched in and took over everything from film, TV and fashion to politics and beyond. This cultural flood is Stoute’s defining principle of “tanning” taking hold and what’s set to be explored in the documentary. From the film’s 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.”
From the trailer, we can see it’s packed with cultural icons and industry heavyweights as Rick Rubin, Nas, Pharrell, Dr. Dre, Mariah Carey and more make appearances, weighing in with their words and opinions.
In conjunction with filmmakers Billy Corben and Alfred Spellman, Stoute’s series will premiere on February 24, 2014 at 11pm EST on VH1 as part of their Rock Docs catalog.
* — Hip-Hop and rap will always be similar but separate entities for me. I agree with Stoute and co. that Hip-Hop did bumrush the show but once it got in, cousin rap followed quickly behind, hopped on the couch and jumped up and down, word to Dave Chappelle as Rick James. Rap’s still the one flooding the radio and TV, while Hip-Hop sort of drifted outside, content with doing its thing without sacrificing content or character for dollars. Rap? That’s sold to the highest bidder in most cases.
Like Phonte once rapped, ” I love Hip-Hop, I just hate the n***** in it.”