How the Minstrel Show Influenced Modern Hip-Hop and Comedy

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The Minstrel Show, an entertainment phenomenon in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, is a show many Americans of any ethnicity would probably prefer to forget, with its blackface makeup and its promotion of demeaning stereotypes. But maybe it’s time to rethink that.

A new book called 'Darkest America: Black Minstrelsy from Slavery to Hip-Hop' argues that minstrels are one of America's most enduring traditions.

According to its authors Yuval Taylor and Jake Austen, the influence of minstrels reverberates through popular culture today. The book traces the tradition to the present day, from rapper Lil Wayne’s music to comedy sketches from Dave Chappelle.

Yuval Taylor is senior editor at the Chicago Review Press and Jake Austen is editor of Roctober Magazine.