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Third Coast: Outkast, Timbaland, and How Hip-Hop Became a Southern Thing

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For every major movement in Hip-Hop, there is an equipped journalist already documenting its evolution. With regards to the Southern aesthetic, Roni Sarig’s Third Coast:: Outkast, Timbaland, and How Hip-Hop Became a Southern Thing (Da Capo Press) serves as a precise account of Southern Hip-Hop’s rise and explosion into the mainstream. Sarig, who has written for major pop and raps magazines like Rolling Stone and XXL, among others, examines all Southern rap, from porch steps in Mississippi and the project intercoms of Magnolia to the strip clubs of Memphis and shorelines of Miami.Third Coast is astoundingly well-researched. It is not one of those popular culture books that spew bubblegum facts that fans have encountered before. Sarig uses a variety of sources to authenticate the retelling of the South’s scattered but rich rap history. Sources include first hand interviews, features from Allhiphop.com, XXL, and Murder Dog, previously published books, and record sale archives. The book embraces the South’s full rolodex of significant artists. There are chapters onJermaine Dupri, Arrested Development, David Banner, 2 Live Crew, Ying Yang Twins, and so on. The data is also fresh. Sarig digs to the core to the get the unreported story, often interviewing local radio DJ’s, entourage members, and even the mothers of the artists themselves to get the full picture. All kinds of new mini-legends about the artist emerge throughout the book:  JD as a child popping and locking prodigy, Andre 3000 as a clandestine guitar player during Stankonia, Mannie Fresh’s exciting ideas during high school band class. The information is so thorough that the book feels like it has been fact checked over and over again.Sarig’s main belief defends Southern Hip-Hop. He argues that the Southern rap comes from a different tradition than East Coast rap. According to Sarig, eastern lyrics concentrate on voice and content, whereas the South concentrates on music and dance. He believes Southern lyrics echo the gaudy lyrics of the Blues era, which are filled guttural and sexual language. In the chapter “Crunk Gets Crunk”, Sarig brings up a lucid point about the genre’s focus. He writes, “The mere sound of some Germanic words carries an unpolished, almost subversive, edge and lends nicely to hip-hop. For instance, it’s less likely rappers will claim they fail to comprehend the significance of the situation and more likely they’ll say they just don’t give a f*ckThird Coast is scholarly but very readable. It covers many bases; music professors can give this a skim as well as folks who just read Ozone. The book is also very encyclopedic in terms of the artists it includes. Every major rap artist born below the Mason-Dixon line gets at least a mention. One should not be surprised if Third Coast goes on to become one of the standard texts on Southern Hip-Hop. It’s just that comprehensive.       

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