Steve, because we’re on a first name basis, would be giving a talk on his latest book, “The Tanning of America: How Hip-Hop Created a Culture That Rewrote the Rules of the New Economy” at Syracuse University. The Steve Stoute would be in the building and I was determined to glean information from his professional hustle. Why wouldn’t I want to improve mine? So, as students quickly filled the seats of Hergenhan Auditorium and waited with anticipation for him, the long time media mogul, advertising executive and “hip-hop aficionado,” I was right there soaking it all in. With his quick-witted New York City candor and cool he had the audience in a daze almost instantaneously. Swaggy isn’t even the word, either. Steve is the kind of debonair and dapper most men strive to be; which when coupled with the charisma and passion that permeated from his speech was a definite sight to see.
I was wearing my journalist hat that night and getting my inquiring mind satiated by his eloquent yet urban approach to the conversation of hip-hop as a conductor for positive economic change. And by the end of his talk Steve would do me the honor of personalizing his book and entertain my question of: “How do you pay it forward?” His answer surprised me and forever changed my game plan and approach. Shoutouts to Steve.
Stoute entered the room and was met with the kind of resounding applause and echoes of cheers heard at a concert. After viewing an introductory film courtesy of Syracuse University’s National Association of Black Journalists, discussion of his recently released book and journey through hip-hop began.
“The Tanning of America: How Hip-Hop Created a Culture That Rewrote the Rules of the New Economy” hit bookshelves in September but its latest buzz has been all but too hard to ignore. The concept of tanning, a term describing hip-hop as a catalyst for blending American cultures, has raised much controversy since its release.
Stoute confirmed in his cool, calm, and collected manner that it has nothing to do with complexity but everything to do with mental capacity. It was written to address how “hip-hop (has written) the rules of the economy and altered the psyche of young Americans.”
Without this genre of music, he admits that his life would hardly be the same.
Revered for his candor, intellect, creative ability, and audacious business ventures in the music industry, there was a wave of startled expressions when Stoute admitted next that while hip-hop infused his cultural curiosity, the music industry wasn’t the occupation he fantasized about as a child.
“Music wasn’t my dream … I love to move people culturally forward,” he said.