What to Watch: The Tanning of America One Nation Under Hip-Hop [Documentary]

VH1’s The Tanning of America will explore hip-hop’s influence and debuts today.

Over the past 40 years, a cultural shift, marked most recently and vividly by the election ofPresident Obama, has been underway. Hip-hop culture, and its luminaries including Fab 5 Freddy,Dr. Dre, Diddy and Russell Simmons, has been the driving catalyst and laid the foundation for the development of this new generation.

Entrepreneur, advertising and record executive Steve Stoute has had a front-row seat and been an active participant while this transformation has taken place, distinctly conveying those thoughts in his 2011 best-seller The Tanning of America: How Hip-Hop Created a Culture That Rewrote the Rules of the New Economy.

“Tanning” is not simply the process of hip-hop culture being accepted by mainstream culture. Rather, it’s the creation of an entirely new culture. “It’s an entire new language, [and] an entire new approach that comes from an openness to borrow and learn and share cultural data,” Stoute says. “People are now hopefully willing to visit, accept, deal with and participate in other cultures. You’re seeing a generation that has adopted that to their lifestyle. That’s the reason why I go back to [saying], ‘You can’t just predetermine someone’s cultural values,’ because we are all borrowing from each other’s culture. There’s so much cultural sharing and tanning happening, that you have to be able to really deal with somebody for who they are. You can’t just hedge on anything because of the amount of sharing and the amount of information that’s being transferred.”

Stoute joined forces with VH1 and filmmakers Billy Corben and Alfred Spellman for a four-part documentary series, The Tanning of America: One Nation Under Hip-Hop, based on his book. Life+Times caught up with Stoute to discuss his ideas about recent tanning moments, and the documentary, which is set to air on VH1 February 24-27.

Read Life+Time’s interview with Steve Stoute here

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