Ben Westhoff


Q: What do you write about? 

My new book Fentanyl Inc.: China, New Drugs, and the Worst Drug Crisis in American History will be published in Spring, 2019 on Grove/Atlantic. My reporting included going undercover in Chinese drug labs and eating fast food with darkweb opioid dealers. I'm best known for my book on Tupac and N.W.A, Original Gangstas. Here are my best longform stories. I've done deep dives on everything from Native American tribal politics to urban apocalypse to dive bars. I came up in alt-weeklies, and have been a staff writer, music critic, and editor. 

Q: Do you have any cool videos? 

Q: Why can't I find you on social media?

I saw the greatest minds of my generation destroyed by trying to come up with a hot take every time Trump said something stupid. (Sign up for my mailing list below instead.) 

Q: What are your favorite podcasts? 

My great bud and former colleague Amy Nicholson hosts Unspooled and The Canon; recently we debated whether Friday should be included among the greatest films of all-time. (Boo Amy, boo.) Those guys Hollywood Handbook are hella funny and smart and nice. Emil Amos' Drifter's Sympathy is incredible, listen to the one below. I heart Doughboys though I wouldn't eat the food, and everything I know about baseball this decade has come from the mouth of Joe Posnanski. Shout to Rodney Carmichael for having me on All Songs Considered +1. I also love the /Filmcast, and got the chance to discuss the Straight Outta Compton movie with Devindra and co.

Q: Care to do any more name dropping, ya maniac? 

Why yes, thank you! In San Francisco I interned for McSweeney's and worked with William Vollmann, contributing to a section on ecoterrorism for his mammoth treatise on violence, Rising Up and Rising Down. My protege Shea Serrano and I zanily trawled the greater Houston area for my book Dirty South and I contributed an essay to his best-seller The Rap Year Book. I edited his column for L.A. Weekly, and did the same for Henry Rollins, Jessica Hopper, and Jeff Weiss. My best friend is MC Paul Barman.

Q: May I send you a story idea?


Q: Which N.W.A member is which Beatle? 

Dre is Paul, Cube is John, Ren is George, Yella is Ringo, Eazy-E is George Martin, and Jerry Heller is Yoko. 

Q: How many printings for Original Gangstas?

Four in paperback.

Q: That's it for the FAQ?! 

I'll add something more later. H/t to Amanda Lewis for the format. 

Q: Can't you at least leave us with a photo of you and Riff Raff?

I'd prefer not. I like to keep some journalistic distance with my subjects.

Q: C'mon. 

All right, fine. 

Horst and the 'Hoff

Horst and the 'Hoff