Tanning of America

Part two of the VH1 docu-series, The Tanning of America, provides a summary of historic “tanning” moments from 1987-1992. It begins with the story of how Harlem hustlers decided the fashions. And the rappers followed suit, literally.

“[Dapper Dan] took the psyche of what we were thinking and created a business out of the attitude of being ghetto fabulous.” – Andre Harrell

Jewish entrepreneurs played a big part in early hip hop business. From Def Jam to Tommy Boy to The Source, their impact is felt. The Beastie Boys are an example of how hip hop would transcend racial lines. Later Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer pushed the boundaries of authenticity while achieving vast commercial success.

Wild Style and Krush Groove marked hip hop’s move into film. Later on, Yo! MTV Raps and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air took the look and feel of hip hop to the masses through TV. But it was The Arsenio Hall Show that brought an air of seriousness and in-depth coverage to the stories behind the voices in hip hop.

“Hip hop was the first medium to really pay attention and speak specifically about the crack epidemic.” – Steve Stoute

There is an entire segment on Spike Lee in the early Jordan commercials. Do you think that Jordans would be as popular among hip hop heads as they are today without this kind of branding from the start?

Watch the story unfold for yourself below.

Do you think this video summed up tanning from 1987-92?


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