Tonight, part two of The Tanning of America airs, the Vh1 documentary that takes a look at the history of hip hop in America and the rise of African-American stars in television, film and music. The film is inspired by the book of the same name written by the founder and CEO of Translation, Steve Stoute. The four-part series looks back at shows like those created by Norman Lear in the 1970s, rap music in the New York City of the early 80s, and the impact all of that has had on both pop culture and politics of today.
We saw the first couple of parts at a screening last Thursday at the Paley Center in New York City. Compared with the humble beginnings depicted on screen, the event had a definite luster about it. Stoute, Nas, Rev. Al Sharpton and Gayle King were among those participating in a panel discussion. Mona Scott-Young (who’s also in the film) and Jerry Seinfeld were among those in the audience.
One thing the documentary makes clear is that the road from the Bronx to Vh1 was paved, in part, with marketing and PR opportunities.