In this “triumphantly funny” (AV Club) memoir, comedian Jensen Karp tells the story of how, as a Jewish kid from the L.A. suburbs, he became a rap battle legend—and then almost became a star.
“The funniest person I follow on Twitter finally got smart and wrote about his unlikely—and hilarious—odyssey as teenage rapper Hot Karl.”—Kevin Smith, New York Times bestselling author of Tough Sh*t
When twelve-year old Jensen Karp got his first taste of rapping for crowds at his friend’s bar mitzvah in 1991, little did he know that he was taking his first step on a journey that would end with a failed million-dollar recording and publishing deal with Interscope Records when he was only nineteen. Now, in Kanye West Owes Me $300, Karp finally tells the true story of his wild ride as “Hot Karl,” the most famous white rapper you’ve never heard of.
On his way to (almost) celebrity, Jensen shares his childhood run-ins with rock-listening, Southern California classmates, who tell him that “rap is for black people,” and then recounts his record-breaking rap battling streak on popular radio contest “The Roll Call”—a run that caught the eye of a music industry hungry for new rap voices in the early ’00s. He also introduces his rap partner, Rickye, who constitutes the second half of their group XTra Large; his supportive mom, who performs with him onstage; and the soon-to-be-household-name artists he records with, including Kanye West, Redman, Fabolous, Mya, and will.i.am. Finally, he reveals why his album never saw the light of day (two words: Slim Shady), the downward spiral he suffered after, and what he found instead of rap glory.
Full of rollicking stories from his close brush with fame, Karp’s hilarious memoir is the ultimate fish-out-of-water story about a guy who follows an unlikely passion—trying to crack the rap game—despite what everyone else says. It’s 30 Rock for the rap set; 8 Mile for the suburbs; and quite the journey for a white kid from the valley.
Jensen Karp, formerly known as Hot Karl, is a writer, comedian, and co-owner of Gallery 1988, the nation’s leading destination for pop culture–themed artwork. He hosts the Get Up On This podcast on the Earwolf Network, co-owns Patti Lapel pins, and has written and produced for The Late Late Show with James Corden, the MTV VMAs and Movie Awards, Rolling Stone, WWE Raw, The Hundreds, and the ESPYs. As an actor, he’s appeared on VH1’s Barely Famous, NFL on FOX, and Candidly Nicole. He is currently an executive producer, writer, and coach on Drop the Mic on TBS. He was influenced by early Tom Hanks comedies, Chino XL, and Dennis Miller (before Dennis became a real piece of shit).