Dirty South: OutKast, Lil Wayne, Soulja Boy, and the Southern Rappers Who Reinvented Hip-Hop by Ben Westhoff

Dirty South reveals the roots of southern Rap, examining the groundbreaking artists and labels who have changed Hip Hop – and the scene’s haters

Southern Rap by Ben Westhoff

Artists interviewed include  

Luke Campbell, Mr. Mixx, Rico and Dale Lynch, Bushwick Bill, Scarface, DJ Drama, DJ Smurf aka Mr. Collipark, Big Boi, Trae, Murphy Lee, Juvenile, Baby aka Birdman, Eightball & MJG, Slim Thug, DJ Paul and Juicy J (Three 6 Mafia), Lil Jon, T-Pain, Rick Ross, Akon, Paul Wall, Chamillionaire, Soulja Boy, Lil Wayne, Jermaine Dupri, Ganksta N-I-P., Gucci Mane, Ludacris, Big Mike and Bun B.

“I love this book. It’s a real in-depth look into southern hip hop history, and loaded with facts. Recommended for hip hop music lovers.” -8Ball, southern rap pioneer, member of duo 8Ball & MJG

“Ben Westhoff possesses the ear of a skilled hip-hop critic, the cadence of a poet, and the nerves of a pro boxer.  Dirty South  reveals not just the grit and spirit of Southern hip-hop, but the intensity of old-fashioned shoe-leather reporting–mixed with a dash of Gonzo journalism for good measure.”  

Mara Shalhoup, author of  BMF: The Rise and Fall of Big Meech and the Black Mafia Family 


“Ben Westhoff brings journalism back to hip-hop, and hip-hop back to journalism, by reclaiming the lost art of reporting. As a result, Dirty South is a most fascinating trip through Southern hip-hop’s origins and current reign. Great book.”  

Dan Charnas, author of The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop


“Journalist and hip-hop enthusiast Westhoff delivers a fascinating exploration… In fact, the beauty of Westhoff’s descriptions of the genre as a whole and various songs in particular will make old fans as well as newbies want to search out and play classic CDs such as OutKast’s ‘Aquemini’ and ‘Kings of Crunk’ by Lil Jon.” Publishers Weekly

Southern Rap dominates the airwaves, and has challenged the authority and coastal dominance of the scene since the early-2000s. While it’s clearly appealing to the masses, its cultural significance has been hotly debated, and its emergence has been contentious in the Hip Hop world. In 2007, original West Coast gangsta rapper Ice-T accused  viral-success-story Soulja Boy of “single-handedly” killing Hip Hop, and he wasn’t alone in his ire.
In Dirty South: Outkast, Lil Wayne, Soulja Boy, and the Southern Rappers Who Reinvented Hip-Hop (Chicago Review Press, May 2011), journalist Ben Westhoff explores the genre that is often thought of as “simple” or lacking a message. Including interviews with key figures like Luke Campbell, Juvenile, Big Boi of OutKast, 8Ball & MJG, Three 6 Mafia, Lil Jon, Ludacris, Jermaine Dupri and many more, Dirty Southshares the stories of acts that put southern rap on the map, and lays out why the genre is so vital.

Acting as both investigative journalist and irreverent critic, Westhoff journeys across the southern United States in a small Hyundai, and the exclusive interviews with the genre’s prominent players take many forms-watching rappers “make it rain” in a Houston strip club, partying with Luke Campbell, visiting the gritty neighborhoods where T. I. and Lil Wayne grew up, and speaking with popular-but-derided artists DJ Smurf and Ms. Peachez along the way. The celebrated but dark history of Houston’s Rap-A-Lot Records, the lethal rivalry between Atlanta’s Gucci Mane and Young Jeezy, and the venerable Scarface’s memories from time in a mental institution are just a few of the textured and tricky subjects explored.

Peppered with surprising details and insider perspectives that make the growth and revolution of hip-hop a cultural touchstone, Dirty South is a fresh and highly readable account of the scene, the society that fostered it and its effect on the music industry.

Ben Westhoff: Upcoming Book Signings and more

St. Louis MO  – April 26: 7pm-8:30 pm @ Left Bank Books 399 North Euclid, St. Louis, MO 63105  

Dallas TX  – April 28: 6pm-8pm @ Cliff Notes 1230 West Davis St. Dallas, TX, 75208. A reception follows an hour later next door inside the Kessler/X+ Art Gallery space, then dovetails into the Camp Wisdom Concert Series in the main showroom. Expect special guests!

Houston TX – April 30: 8pm-10pm @ Domy Bookstore 1709 Westheimer Rd Houston, TX, 77098. Preceded by a free barbecue.  

New Orleans – May 2: 6pm-7pm @ Garden District Book Shop 2727 Prytania St. New Orleans 70130


Atlanta GA – May 4: 7pm-9pm, Young Blood Gallery & Boutique 636 N Highland Ave. Northeast Atlanta GA 30306. Panel discussion about southern Hip Hop featuring rapper Killer Mike, producer Mr. Collipark, writer Maurice Garland, Creative Loafing music editor Rodney Carmichael, and Ben Westhoff.  

Nashville TN – May 6: 6-7:30pm @ Bookman Bookwoman Books 1713 21st Ave S Nashville TN 

Memphis TN – May 9: 6pm-7:30pm @ Davis-Kidd Booksellers 387 Perkins Road Ext. Memphis TN  

Brooklyn NY – June 9: 7pm-8:30pm @ Book Thug Nation 100 N 3rd St Brooklyn NY 11211

Mankato MN July 11: 7pm-8:30 pm @ Barnes & Noble River Hills 1850 Adams  Mankato, MN  

Madison WI – July 12: 7pm-8:30 pm @ Rainbow Bookstore Coop. 426 W Gilman St, Madison, WI  


Minneapolis MN – July 20: 7:30-9pm @ Magers & Quinn 3038 Hennepin Ave. S. Minneapolis, MN

Ben Westhoff is a former staff writer for St. Louis’ Riverfront Times, who has also written for Village Voice, Creative Loafing, Spin and Pitchfork. Visit benwesthoff.com

Press, please contact author, Ben Westhoff at ben.westhoff@gmail.com to request review copies, interviews, images and more.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.