Author Michael Eric Dyson’s New Book Will Focus on Jay-Z’s Cultural Impact: ‘This Was the Perfect Time’

Georgetown sociology professor Michael Eric Dyson isn’t just a fan of Jay-Z, he taught the course SOCI-124-01, also known as “Sociology of Hip-Hop — Urban Theodicy of Jay-Z.” And now he’s writing a book on him.

It’s called “Jay-Z: Made In America,” and Dyson is explaining why it’ll be important for everyone to read.

“This book is the fruit of a decade of teaching about one of the greatest poets this nation has produced,” he told Entertainment Weekly.

“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,” he added. “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.”

And a long career it has been. Jay’s first album “Reasonable Doubt” hit shelves in the summer of 1996 and his last solo album “4:44” came out in 2017.

In between those years, he never truly went away and is still considered in many circles as the best rapper ever. In fact, it’s something 21 Savage said in May of this year.

Plus, Jay’s won a slew of awards, broken Billboard chart records and has been called one of rap’s biggest success stories. Not to mention he’s involved himself in social justice issues, like working to improve the laws surrounding parole and probation with his organization The Reform Alliance.

And according to Dyson, all of those things need to be written about in full detail so they can be appreciated.

“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,” he explained. “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,” added Dyson. “He’s an important thinker and artist, and my book tries to measure his impact and acknowledge his greatness.”

The book is scheduled to be released on Nov. 26, five days before the rapper turns 50.

Back to top