Who can resist a title like that?
Jensen Karp almost had it all, and for a while, he did.
A dorky, middle-class Jewish kid growing up in the very-white suburbs of LA might not seem like the most likely candidate for hip-hop stardom, but that never stopped Karp. Obsessing over rap culture led to a pre-pubescent rap group that took shots at ABC, but fizzled out after the Rodney King riots.
Not letting his dreams die out, Karp eventually got on a hot streak on the Roll Call, a call-in rap battle show on major terrestrial radio, in a time when that sort of thing actually mattered. From there, everything snowballed until finally Karp, now known as "Hot Karl" signed with Interscope Records after a private dinner at Jimmy Iovine's mansion.
From the lens of 2016, it's fascinating to have a first-hand account of just how free-wheelin, jet-flyin, limousine-ridin' crazy the music industry was in the pre-Napster days. Hot Karl's year-long recording process featured a whos-who of early 2000s hip-hop, including cameos from Fabolous, Redman, Mya and more. Even real-life monster-human Suge Knight makes an appearance, albeit as a polite, genuine man, with a firm handshake.
Karp never lets himself get rolled up into the lifestyle too much though, as his rise to stardom happens to coincide with his parents divorce, and father's eventual battle with cancer. This is a ramen-to-caviar-to-ramen story, told by someone with enough insight and distance to actually perceive just how crazy this whole thing was.
As for Hot Karl's million-dollar record? You never heard it. Why? Ask Marshall Mathers ~ Reviewed by Chris Linendoll.