After Vanilla Ice, but before Eminem, there was "Hot Karl", the Jewish kid from the LA suburbs who became a rap battling legend - and then almost became a star.
When 12-year-old Jensen Karp got his first taste of rapping for crowds at his friend's bar mitzvah in 1991, little did he know that he was taking his first step on a crazy journey - one that would end with a failed million-dollar recording and publishing deal with Interscope Records when he was only 19. Now, in Kanye West Owes Me $300, Karp finally tells the true story of his wild ride as "Hot Karl", the most famous white rapper you've never heard of.
On his way to (almost) celebrity, Jensen shares his childhood run-ins with rock-listening Southern California classmates who tell him that "rap is for black people" and then recounts his record-breaking rap battling streak on popular radio contest The Roll Call - a run that caught the eye of a music industry hungry for new rap voices in the early '00s. He also introduces his rap partner, Rickye, who constitutes the second half of their group, XTra Large; his supportive mom, who performs with him onstage; and the soon-to-be-household-name artists he records with, including Kanye West, Redman, Fabolous, Mya, and will.i.am. Finally he reveals why his album never saw the light of day (two words: Slim Shady), the downward spiral he suffered after, and what he found instead of rap glory.
Full of rollicking stories from his close brush with fame, Karp's hilarious memoir is the ultimate fish-out-of-water story about a guy who follows an unlikely passion - trying to crack the rap game - despite what everyone else says. It's 30 Rock for the rap set, 8 Mile for the suburbs, and quite the journey for a white kid from the valley.
©2016 Jensen Karp (P)2016 Random House Audio
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"Buried the lead"
Pretty fun stories about an entertaining figure. The most interesting chapter (and the book's namesake) came near the end. Wish it had came sooner. Enjoyable. Worth the download.
"Great listen to a great story!"
It's a compulsive listen that flies by, a crazy trip through the just-before-the-bust music industry.
"Great book, great reading"
Jensen Karp has lived the sort of life that would be hard to believe, but the story is written so earnestly and read so well that you are immediately sucked in and don't doubt for a moment anything that he says. Just an overall fantastic book!
"Book Season in full efect!"
There's not much more to say than that I'll probably listen to it again tomorrow. Thanks JK.
Amazing stories. Funny, dated pop culture references. Clever battle rap punch lines.
Gasping for Airtime by Jay Mohr
So glad Jensen read the book. I laughed throughout.
Hey Jensen, where can I hear that late 90's demo? Can't wait for the movie.
"Funny, well written and interesting story."
Being a rap and hip hop fan of the late 90's and early 2000's ; I found his story fascinating. Im disappointed that I never heard of him during that time. And even more so that I will never get to hear any music from the album.
"Fantastic!!!! Great narration."
Great look into the music industry. Highly recommend this book to anyone. Great lessons on dealing with crap life throws at you.
What a great story. I grew up around the same time frame and area. I recognized a lot this hip hop references as I too was a very big hip hop head. The whole story was very well articulated and having it read by Jensen gave it a more personal feel. And I too would agree that Canibus should have never done a song with Wyclef.
"Why are you keeping score of a book?"
A Funny and heartwarming telling of a fascinating story. You don't have to know about rap, pinkeye, or hedonism to enjoy the hell out of this book.
"Behind the Music, Before the Bust"
A highly entertaining telling from the author about his days as Hot Karl, a west coast "white rapper" who was well on his way to making it big. As a fan of music in general, these were great stories that happen to take place right before the music industry bust in the early to mid 2000's. Not only was the behind the scenes fascinating, but Hot Karl's rise and eventual fall out were incredibly interesting.
All of the stories were great, but, much like the title suggests, Hot Karl's early workings with a young Kanye West were a highlight.
I loved the duality. I don't know if I would have liked it was well if I wasn't hearing these stories directly from Jensen himself. It added authenticity to what he was saying and I loved how he would rap his early disses and rap battle lines. In a stroke of genius, having Chris MacDonnell read the full song lyrics in his "Shakesperian" way added a whole new level.
These stories made me laugh out loud several times, and while I didn't cry, some of the aspects of Jensen's story are deeply moving.
Even if rap isn't really your thing, if you have love of music in any way, this book should be on your list.
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