A wide-ranging survey of the first four decades of hip-hop that vividly brings some of the culture’s biggest success stories...

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3 KINGS

DIDDY, DR. DRE, JAY-Z, AND HIP-HOP'S MULTIBILLION-DOLLAR RISE

A reported history of the business and businesses of hip-hop.

Talking about the many successes of Diddy, Dr. Dre, and Jay-Z, Russell Simmons says to Forbes senior media and entertainment editor Greenburg (Michael Jackson, Inc.: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of a Billion-Dollar Empire, 2014, etc.), “they just said, ‘Why don’t I do it myself?’ It’s funny that in other industries, people didn’t do it, all the rock stars, they never did it.” This entrepreneurial spirit is the author’s primary concern as he traces hip-hop from its origins in 1970s New York to its current station at the center of the cultural mainstream. Drawing from interviews with several hip-hop pioneers, Greenburg goes in depth on the early years to establish the context in which his titular figures arose. However, forefronting the three iconic moguls proves a bit ham-fisted. While they are the wealthiest individuals to emerge from hip-hop (combined wealth of at least $2.5 billion), the author strains to identify qualities these different men share that might set them apart from other major figures in hip-hop. Greenburg puts forward 50 Cent as a possible fourth king, and he devotes plenty of space to Simmons, the first hip-hop mogul, and other contemporaries such as Nas and Swizz Beatz, who have done well financially. But coming on the heels of The Defiant Ones, HBO’s tribute to the business acumen of Dre and Jimmy Iovine, and Jay-Z’s album “4:44”—among other things, a wealth-management tutorial—this book offers a pleasingly broad perspective of hip-hop as economic triumph. Furthermore, Greenburg’s vivid descriptions—a small sampling includes the “farty bass lines” of Dre’s G-funk period; Suge Knight in his notorious 1995 Source Awards appearance “looking like a gang-affiliated Kool-Aid Man”; and Diddy dressed like “a very fashionable porcupine”—make for engaging reporting that will satisfy neophytes and devotees alike.

A wide-ranging survey of the first four decades of hip-hop that vividly brings some of the culture’s biggest success stories into one place.

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31653-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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