The Tanning of America: One Nation Under Hip Hop

Steve Stoute is certain that you can draw a line connecting the birth of hip-hop, at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx, directly to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, where President Obama is serving his second term in office. He began to tell that story in part one of his new series, “The Tanning of America,” which premiered on VH1 Monday night. The series is based on Stoute’s 2011 book of the same title, but the four-part show is proving to be even more interesting with commentary from hip-hop legends such as Russell Simmons, Reverend Run, Rick Rubin, Nas and Diddy. Stoute, a marketing mogul and longtime business partner of Jay Z, makes the factual argument that hip-hop culture is responsible for blurring color lines in America, and making room for the country’s first black president. The first segment highlights the 1970s origins of the culture through the mid-80s, culminating with the meteoric rise of Run-D.M.C. Even for those who are well-versed in hip-hop’s beginnings, the special included some priceless footage.

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