In his next book, Michael Eric Dyson will reveal how Jay-Z was Made in America.
EW can exclusively announce the New York Times best-selling author’s new book, which features a foreword by Pharrell and will examine Jay-Z as a cultural icon, charting the evolution of his work and thinking and featuring in-depth analysis of his most famous lyrics and songs. Dyson, a professor of sociology at Georgetown University, has investigated and championed hip-hop as an art form for decades.
“This book is the fruit of a decade of teaching about one of the greatest poets this nation has produced,” Dyson tells EW. “Jay-Z is not only a remarkable recording artist and ingenious businessman, but he is one of our most gifted wordsmiths whose language drips with all the poetic tricks and skills you’ll find in Walt Whitman, Robert Frost, and Rita Dove. But as a rapper, he’s sometimes not given the credit he deserves for just how great an artist he’s been for so long.”
Dyson continues, “This book wrestles with the biggest theme of his career, hustling, and what it looks like when it shows up illegally in the underground and how it looks when it’s part of legitimate society.”
Jay-Z: Made in America, set to publish this fall, coincides with its subject’s 50th birthday. Jay-Z has been a recording artist for 30 years now, recently became a billionaire, and was the first rap artist to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. “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,” Dyson says. “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. 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 everyday. He’s an important thinker and artist, and my book tries to measure his impact and acknowledge his greatness.”
The book also features illustrations by Everett Dyson, the author’s nephew. Below, you can check out a sneak peek at this art, as well as the official cover for Jay-Z: Made in America. The book publishes Nov. 26, and is available for pre-order.