Some would say starting out in the mail room of a record label isn’t exactly the greatest launching pad for an ambitious music business executive. However, Dan Charnas was able to turn his run in the mail room into a great business move and now he’s ready to release a book with information he’s witnessed or learned about in the Hip Hop world. His new book, The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip Hop, covers the culture in a 40 year span, one that starts in 1968 and ends in 2008.

As noted, Charnas started out at Profile Records, a label that boasted Run-DMC as part of its roster at the time. But, he was able to parlay that gig into a writing job with The Source when the magazine was first blooming. Later, he grew and evolved until finally becoming VP of Hip Hop A&R for Def American Recordings, a label that was Rick Rubin’s creation. With The Big Payback, Charnas uses all of these years in the culture to assess and retell all that he’s learned and uses over 300 interviews to do so. 

Complex and Charnas recently teamed up to compile The 25 Biggest Business Power Moves in Hip Hop History, a list that features Def Jam’s deal with Columbia, The Sale of Priority Records, The Sale of Def Jam and 50 Cent’s endorsement of Vitamin Water. For more on the list, click here