Cited above, an interview with Paul Beatty circa Tuff. Good stuff.
Q: When your first novel, WHITE BOY SHUFFLE was published, critics said you were the literary parodic counterpart to hip-hop and stand-up comedy as practiced by Richard Pryor or Eddie Murphy. What do you think about this comparison?
A: All literature is framed by the societal zeitgeist in which it is written. In some ways saying my work is the "literary parodic counterpart to hip-hop and stand-up comedy" is an insult The general knee-jerk critical reaction that all African-American art is linked to pop culture in ways that white American art rarely is. I think that the races and artistic forms (pop or not) are all linked, especially in this, the information age. So I don't deny the links to music and comedy, but decry the short-sightedness that these are the only, or most important links, they are not. Richard Pryor is a genius. Who I admire for his vulnerability, fearlessness and insight. Eddie Murphy is not funny.* Hip-hop is a genre and like any genre is sometimes good, sometimes bad. It does not influence in anyway how or why I write. If it is part of an character's world or an appropriate metaphor, then it's there. For instance Tuffy listens to rap, occasionally recites rap lyrics but claims he doesn't like it, and hates being mistaken for anyone of the slew of overweight rap artists. Spencer Throckmorton the black rabbi is fan of easy listening music. And his music, Harry Chapin, Bread America, Simon and Garfunkel sets the tone for the book at least as much as hip hop, if not more so. Of course most people don't care because that's not "black."
* LOL but I do not concur.