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Root For The Villain: Rap, Bull$hit, and a Celebration of Failure Paperback – 3 Oct 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 206 pages
  • Publisher: Old Maid Entertainment (3 Oct. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0615532276
  • ISBN-13: 978-0615532271
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.2 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 466,406 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

J-ZONE is a connoisseur of humbling reality checks, lesser-known rap albums from the early ‘90s, self-deprecation, and full-fledged lampoonery. His primary hobby is assailing our daily acts of bullshit. Throughout his decade and change in the music business, he’s worked with the likes of Gnarls Barkley, The Lonely Island, Biz Markie, E-40, and Prince Paul, to name a few. As a writer, his work has been published in the Common Culture pop culture textbook series, SLAM Magazine, The Source, and London’s Hip-Hop Connection (HHC), among others. He’s a regular contributor for ego trip NYC and moonlights as a high school sports reporter in the New York Metropolitan area. J-Zone has also taught music classes in the SUNY (State University of New York) system. He’s an insubordinate curmudgeon and a New York native who will invoice you if you send him emoticon and acronym-laden text messages. He lives in Queens, New York with his beloved grandmother, “Evil E.”

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By K. hadley on 2 Jan. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had really mixed feelings about this book. I bought it within 2 minutes of someone telling me it existed and read it cover to cover the next day.
I'd like to say it was amazing, but i was more frustrated by what it could have been.
The book jumps from straight autobiography to random personal complaints to obscure hip-hop trivia. Zone came up as an isolated teenager and recounts his obsession with funk and hip-hop from an early age and how it helped him deal with teenage life. His descriptions of being an intern in the studio where the likes of Nice n Smooth and Large Pro were working starts promisingly but tails off.
As a self styled curmudgeonly old man of rap, he spends far too much of the book on a whining polemic about the modern world, technology and the music industry. A lot of time is also wasted recounting the famous friends who dig his music and complaining that the rest of the world don't get it. While this works great in short chunks in his magazine writing, it becomes a little wearing over a whole book. When it comes to describing closed down record stores in boroughs of New York and which funk albums he bought there I was struggling to care.

As an insight into the life of an independent musician it's really interesting and you DO have to feel sorry for him. Especially when he recounts agreeing to let Fat Beats burn his unsold albums.

As a geek for 90s rap, it's also put me onto some new groups to check out and was worth reading. If he'd just let someone edit it, it might have been a much more interesting read.

At least by the end i did Root For The Villain..... it's just a shame he couldn't be more villainous and less whiny.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Boom Bap Capatalist on 8 Aug. 2012
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Love the book, I have about 10 pages left and it was a lot better than i expected, J-Zone talks about a lot of hip hop memories he has working legends like large pro, he also discusses his path in the hip hop industry and talks a lot about relationships, funny.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Hay Zoos on 25 Jan. 2013
Format: Paperback
This alongside Byron Crawford's autobiography are the most ridiculous books i have ever read! I couldnt stop laughing while i was reading this back a year ago. I am glad that hip hop has people like J-Zone around.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 31 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Poor Zone 9 Mar. 2013
By Cap'n Stoob - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I used to listen to this guy a lot back in my college days and it was so cool that a guy could put out a record without going mainstream back in those days. But, when you read this book, it's as depressing as it is funny. Here is a whip-smart kid with a talent for beats that got educated the street way in hip hop and took his knowledge into the studio where he made AWESOME records that both got away from the thug nature of hip hop and more into satire and intelligent rhythmic flow....and he didn't make ANY kind of living from it. Now he's a high school sports reporter.

What kind of industry do we have in hip hop when a guy like L'il Wayne or 50 Cent that can't rhyme and just say the same thing (guns and guns and drugs and money and cars and guns!) over purchased beats can make MILLIONS and guys like J-Zone and Freddie Foxxx can't get airtime on anything.

This book is both a result of and warning to the sick, self-destructive industry hip hop has become and J-Zone's story, as amusing as it may be, is really a call for true fans to get off the corporate label and start backing independent productions.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
J-Zone Review 18 Jun. 2012
By Phil Bigsby - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book, my man goes over the span of his life and describes his love for hip-hop. I am a true fan of his music and i wasn't sure how his book writing skills would be. He spent a lot of time perfecting this book and i would have to say he is definitely a great writer as well. I await his future books to come out, he could write another dozen and i would buy them. He goes over some of the best first hand stories of being around celebrities and rap moguls over the past 20 years, I could not put the book down!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
If you are on "some other s***", you will love this book! 25 Jan. 2013
By AvidReaderNYC - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Root for The Villain... is more than a memoir about one dude's failed rap career. It is a book about what happens to the "unseasonable" artist, the obscure, gifted, intelligent, insightful, not-ready-for-prime-time artist, who is good, but never good enough, or rather simple enough, for mass market appeal. But that's not all...

After reading J-Zone's humorous and insightful memoir (and the social commentary, Uh, "Crunching Numbers", one of my favorite chapters) I now see why he didn't fit into the rap world, like the others. To become like "the others" requires you to conform to a popular idea, to follow the leader with the biggest crowd and mimic his formula for success or expand on it without confusing people. But J-Zone is rebellious to the tenth power. He's an inventor of new ideas and likes to play with form. But no one in the business of music cares to hear that unless it makes a lot of money. J-Zone is no slouch. In fact, while he performed many times for crowds of 10 people or less, he was lauded, by his more successful chart-topping peers, for his unique style. Could it be his peers were living vicariously through J-Zone's rebellious creative efforts, or was J-Zone actually the Ed Wood of rap? One thing is for sure, there are no rules in J-Zone's world except his own. It's easy to assume that J-Zone was one of those, "cut your nose off despite your face" artists. You know, the ones with the huge ego and brick hard moral conviction that many corporate robots love telling, "I told you so" before kicking them to the curb. But they can't see, what he so brilliantly sees. He sees dead people, folks afraid of risking conformity to fulfill a dream, for fear of failing. And for this, I don't believe that J-Zone is a failure at all. Maybe, just maybe, in the grander scheme, rap was the lesson, the 10,000+ hours (the Gladwell Tipping Point) that lead J-Zone to his real destiny, authorship.

Either way, I enjoyed this back to the 80's, then 90's, and then back to the future, rap journey. I also enjoyed, J-Zone's humorous and often crass take on the business of music, Snooki and Reality TV, women, girly men, women, getting old, social networking, women, dating, and did I mention, women? Yeah, the female content, dang. *Side-eye note to my homegirls: I don't agree with the way women are depicted in J-Zone's world but I'm going to look passed the caveman superficiality and the name calling because the book is filled with insightful gems that we can ALL learn from. I'd rather spend time with an honest narrator who has a few flaws than a seemingly honest narrator that feeds me what he thinks I want to hear.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Enjoyable read from a criminally underrated musician 1 Oct. 2014
By Lit. Lover - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Hugely enjoyable read if you're in to the hey-day of hip-hop music (late 80's - 1990's). I laughed out loud at least 2 dozen times, J manages to tell a cautionary tale about life, dreams and the music industry in a way that's extremely entertaining, provided you're not a humorless prude. My one (major) critique... J, dude, next time get you an editor. The first 2/3rds of the book tell J's tale, then the last 1/3rd is just a stream of consciousness about various ridiculousness in the world today, much of it I've already read in blogs that J has written over the years. It's like J ran out of tales to tell, realized he needed more and just started ranting and recycling old thoughts. A good editor would have been able to help you place these anecdotes within the context of your tale so it all fits together better, instead of this 'story is over, but here's some more thoughts...' format you chose. For instance why not tie the gadget ho rant into the stories you tell about your women and relationships over the years. And I'm not a douche, I get it, this was a self-published book, your first foray into publishing... but editors are there for the same reason engineers are there in the studio - to make what you produce work and sound better. I don't feel like the format made the book worse, but a good editor would have made it that much better. Now please open a J-Zone fantasy camp in New York and start taking people's money to teach them how to make beats. You'd have mine. And write more please.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Zone. The Truth. 11 Dec. 2011
By not anymore - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I listen to the man's music, now I understand it. If you grew up with an interest in hip hop? You will relate to this man and his words. It's a great book. A great read.
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