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Arts and Entertainment

Gwyneth Paltrow Talks About Hip-Hop Culture and 'Tanning' in Santa Monica in the 1960s

Gwyneth Paltrow photo via Shutterstock
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By now, you've probably heard Gywneth Paltrow rap N.W.A.'s "Straight Outta Compton" (if you haven't, here's the clip). In a recent interview with Steve Stoute, the actress bumps up her street cred even more. Stoute is the author of "The Tanning of America: How Hip-Hop Created a Culture That Rewrote the Rules of the New Economy." On his website, he describes "tanning" as "the positive, powerful potential of urban youth culture that, when harnessed properly, can bring disparate groups of people together [and raise] the generation of black, Hispanic, white and Asian consumers who have the same ‘mental complexion’ based on shared experiences and values."

Waxing poetic about the role that hip-hop culture played in her own life, Paltrow tells Stoute that growing up in Santa Monica, she saw "almost no tanning," except for on television -- a television show that happened to be directed by her father (and yes, it is funny to hear one of the whitest women on the planet hold forth on the topic of tanning, but more power to you, Gwynnie).

"It was the 60s and 70s in California, and in my school, it was a very beachy community, very hippie," she says. "I think the most tanning that I saw during that phase of my life was my dad, [who] created, wrote and directed a TV show called 'The White Shadow,' about a white basketball coach teaching basketball in an inner-city school."

Later, Stoute references Paltrow's profound and somewhat unexpected affinity for gangsta rap. He asks her where that love came from, particularly in light of the fact that she attended the notably un-gangsta private school Spence on New York City's Upper East Side at the time that gangsta rap was becoming popular. She describes her introduction to hip-hop as follows:

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"When I was a teenager is when it was all happening, and it was just starting to get into the mainstream...and the Collegiate boys who, you know, are on the [Upper] West Side, they introduced us to hip-hop," she says. "It was the Beastie Boys first, that was kind of our way in, and then we got super into it...when I went to L.A. one summer to work in a restaurant is when I found N.W.A...and that was it."