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Queens Reigns Supreme: Fat Cat, 50 Cent, and the Rise of the Hip Hop Hustler [Kindle Edition]

Ethan Brown
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $12.95
Kindle Price: $9.32
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Sold by: Random House LLC


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Book Description

Based on police wiretaps and exclusive interviews with drug kingpins and hip-hop insiders, this is the untold story of how the streets and housing projects of southeast Queens took over the rap industry.

For years, rappers from Nas to Ja Rule have hero-worshipped the legendary drug dealers who dominated Queens in the 1980s with their violent crimes and flashy lifestyles. Now, for the first time ever, this gripping narrative digs beneath the hip-hop fables to re-create the rise and fall of hustlers like Lorenzo “Fat Cat” Nichols, Gerald “Prince” Miller, Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff, and Thomas “Tony Montana” Mickens. Spanning twenty-five years, from the violence of the crack era to Run DMC to the infamous murder of NYPD rookie Edward Byrne to Tupac Shakur to 50 Cent’s battles against Ja Rule and Murder Inc., to the killing of Jam Master Jay, Queens Reigns Supreme is the first inside look at the infamous southeast Queens crews and their connections to gangster culture in hip hop today.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. This engrossing portrait of the trigger-happy hip-hop demimonde explores the origins of the gangsta-rap ethos in southeast Queens, home to legendary narcotics gangs and many of rap's biggest stars, including 50 Cent and Ja Rule. New York magazine music editor Brown begins by chronicling the careers of three Queens drug kingpins during the 1980s crack epidemic, when maintaining a fearsome reputation for violence was a must for doing business. He continues through to the 1990s, when a younger generation of hip-hop artists and impresarios idolized such criminals and adopted their twisted moral economy of street cred. Rappers dissed rivals' lack of a criminal background while burnishing their own; the war of rhymes occasionally escalated into gunplay between hostile entourages; prison stints and shoot-out wounds were coveted markers of hoodlum authenticity. Drawing on interviews with gangsters and rappers alike, Brown looks behind the tabloid headlines about such hip-hop luminaries as Russell Simmons and Tupac Shakur, while fleshing out the dynamics of machismo, loyalty, vengeance and greed in the claustrophobic 'hood. His is a vigorous account of an American subculture that's colorful, influential and, given the body count, tragic. 16 pages photos. (Dec. 6)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

New York journalist Brown, who covers pop music, drug issues, and crime, resifts the evidence in the city's rapper/gang wars, thoroughly exploring the connections between the big-money rap music industry and the big-money criminal enterprise of drug dealing. So doing, he makes a valuable contribution to the burgeoning literature on the violence of such heroes of the 'hood as Lorenzo "Fat Cat" Nichols, Gerald "Prince" Miller, Kenneth "Supreme" McGriff, and Thomas "Tony Montana" Mickens as well as the rappers who glorified and shared with them a glitzy, murderous urban pleasure-dome existence. In the 1980s "hip-hop and hustling inhabited separate social spheres," but in time, hip-hoppers, "particularly those who were teenagers in the eighties," looked up to drug dealers, who had "all of the accoutrements that would come to define hip-hop's 'bling' lifestyle in the late nineties." The fast-money, heavily armed -criminals-cum-rappers world eventually erupted in murders, such as those of Jam Master Jay and Tupac Shakur, and a festering series of rap feuds. A good, detailed report on an ongoing, epic social problem. Mike Tribby
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 1419 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor (December 8, 2010)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004DEPF9A
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #116,906 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The book is a must read! Don't miss out... February 3, 2006
By Lynn
I think Queens Reigns Supreme is an excellent read. Mr. Brown did a heck of a job. There's so much interesting information and even more interesting characters, yet Brown manages to put it all together perfectly. Even with all the ground he covers, from the 80s to the present, the book flows smoothly. Btw, Brown was featured in XXL recently. I must say, when you look at the pictures of him, you would never think this guy has all the info he has and access to so many people from the streets. It's obvious he did his research and worked hard to get the stories told from those who were actually touched by what was going on. That was really well done. He did a great job portraying the characters. Although, the one guy, Scoon, I wish his character had been more developed. I recently read an article on him also. He seems like an intellingent guy, very knowledgeable about the topic. I noticed when reading the book, that he had so many connections, with everyone from Russell Simmons to Fat Cat. I think we could have learned more info from him. He's cute too. Seriously, i think this book will be on people's tongues for a long time. A warning: once you start reading it, clear you schedule, because you won't want to put it down.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A must-read for fans of hip-hop culture January 9, 2006
While 50 Cent's name in the title of this book may draw some interest, it's the characters of the generation that preceeded 50 that make this such an essential piece of cultural lit for those interested in the relationship between hustling and hip-hop.

A summary of the book's plot seems redundant. What makes this book stand out are the hustlers themselves - Fat Cat Nichols, Supreme, Prince, and several others. Brown presents their lives and misdeeds without passing judgment on them, allowing the reader to interpret the possible motives behind why they do what they do. The book also provides an interesting look at the early days of Queens hip-hop, including the lack of money being made by the artists involved at the time (the talk of Jay Mizell being so heavily in debt at the time of his death brings the point across pretty clearly).

For fans of contemporary hip-hop, there's plenty about the rivalry between Ja and 50, and Brown does a good job of exposing what should seem to be a lack of true street cred. Nobody in this book, outside of a few Queens narcotic cops, comes across in a very good light. Brown pulls no punches, as the facts tell the story.

Recommended for any fan of hip-hop culture, especially to those unfamiliar with much of what's covered in this book.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Queens truly reigns supreme. December 12, 2005

I hail from southeast Queens and I have heard so many stories of the Supreme Team and Fat Cat and all of those dudes and crews. I just think it's great to get all the facts in one place. Now I understand how everything went down and why. New York is a crazy place, yet it is still a gem. People if you want to know about real street tish and about these fake ass rappers like Ja and Pac and the Goodies I mean Gottis I mean Lorenzos, this is the book. Happy Reading.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a must read November 28, 2005
mr. brown's book is long overdue, especially with everything going on today within the hip hop community. this documentation of the interconnections between the street/hustlers of queens and the hip-hop scene (from origin to the present day) is REMARKABLE - a totally fascinating relationship. the book is a truly amazing and insightful account of history and a reallllly engrossing read. definitely pick it up. i can't believe how much i learned and how quickly i read the book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Realness June 22, 2006
This book is not a fictional "hood" farce as I initially thought upon seeing it in the store. After reading the abstract on the back cover, I was compelled to read the Preface and first two chapters while still sitting in the store. I purchased the book and read it in less than 48 hours. I literally could not put it down. It is filled with the TRUE stories of Queens hustlers like the Supreme Team and Pappy Mason. These are hood icons that you may hear about in a rap record but never know who they really were. This book does an excellent job of conveying the street savvy and relentlessness of these hustlers who amassed millions as well as carefully cataloguing their down fall. There are times where you read the book and almost hear these figures talking to you or reading what was going through their minds at the time. You see them on top of the world as well as at the bottom of the barrel. You see them as violent and fearless as well as seeing them desperate and vulnerable.

The connection that is drawn to the current hip hop music and culture is drawn seemlessly. There are a lot of familiar names and some unfamiliar stories. Some truths come out and we see who is "gangsta" and who's not. This is a must read for anyone interested in Urban History/ Culture.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read January 1, 2006
Fist of all this book is not for just hip hop fans. Lets just say this book was so informative and so well written i have read it twice in 3 days and wouldnt mind reading it the third time.

It made me fly all the way from Atlanta to pay a visit to southside jamaica queens, ny (over the holidays) to see the famous baisley projects (116-80 Guy R Brewer) and South Jamaica Estates (aka Forties Project). I could not believe such a small housing project had so much going on in the 80s that no one knew about. My trip was not complete but i will pay another visit there by the summer. I just have to. Whether the things that went on in South Side Jamaica Queens was good or bad, it is still history, that needs to brought to light and i am glad Ethan at least took the first step by coming out with this book.

Ethan Brown was so detailed with this book, i will find it hard to know anybody will put this book down once they start.

This book will make you ask a lot of questions, and i must say sparked a huge curiosity in me. There is a lot of whys and hows.

THIS BOOK IS A DEFINATE DEFINATE MUST READ. And for parents i will say it will be a good gift for you young teenagers who are tempted to get into this life of drugs whether it be a hustler or a user. This book makes you understand that it is not worth it,because at the end of the day all the people ended up dead or in jail, and have nothing to show for it. This book is a must read by all.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Information
I got this book because I was interested in gangsters and drug lords. Reading this book gave me the information I wanted but soon it got boring.
Published 3 months ago by Denise Evans
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
I purchased this book for my husband, who is from Queens and he loved it. He said it was a great read!
Published 6 months ago by Mismail
4.0 out of 5 stars Good
Easy to read, i Read it in a day. Definitely worth buying if you like books based on true stories.
Published 19 months ago by Jewbalina
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, Great seller
Bought this book as a gift for my boyfriend. He loves it. Informative and detailed. Hipped him to some new, more obscure music, also. It arrived very quickly in pristine condition.
Published on June 4, 2012 by Marie B.
5.0 out of 5 stars Vivid and Intriguing
This book gives a vivid and intriguing look into the drug and street culture that influenced early hip-hop. Read more
Published on May 23, 2012 by Jim Wilson
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Book
I'm From The Bright Lights And Big City ( New York City ). This Book Is Justifiable To The Actual Events. Read more
Published on January 5, 2010 by C. W. Slade
4.0 out of 5 stars Opens window to city Hell.
Excellent writing. Preferred the Hip Hop history aspect. With that, my problem is how can you talk about hard-core without a single mention of Public Enemy? Read more
Published on December 7, 2009 by J. Rodeck
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing read!
This book is a wonderful read for fans of hip hop and also for readers who want to learn about life in Jamaica, Queens in the 70s and 80s. Read more
Published on March 22, 2009 by G3
4.0 out of 5 stars From South Side to the darkside..Jamaica Queens!
The book Queens Reigns Supreme: Fat Cat, 50 Cent, and the Rise of the Hip Hop Hustler really depicts the inner circle of the 80's drug culture in South Side Queens. Read more
Published on July 29, 2008 by Kirk Ch
5.0 out of 5 stars From Queens Come KINGS!!!
Great book and great body of work documenting the origins of much of what commercial hip hop currently reflects. A must have for any rap music aficionado. Read more
Published on January 19, 2008 by Scoon
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More About the Author

Ethan Brown is the author of three, investigative-reporting driven books on crime and criminal justice policy:

His first book--Queens Reigns Supreme: Fat Cat, 50 Cent and the Rise of the Hip-Hop Hustler--was published by Random House in 2005 to rave reviews in the Boston Globe ("diligently researched and trenchantly observed...a fascinating look at the way one generation's reality becomes the next's mythology"), The Village Voice ("one of the first reliable accounts [of the crack era]...the fact that Brown was able to publish so thorough an account is itself notable") and Publishers Weekly ("A vigorous account of an American subculture that's colorful, influential and, given the body count, tragic").

Ethan's second book--Snitch: Informers, Cooperators and the Corruption of Justice--was published by Public Affairs in 2007. The Legal Times wrote of Snitch that "Many police and prosecutors reading his book (or this review) will surely cry foul. Their cries will too often be proven insincere upon close examination, however, because Brown's overwhelming." Brown University economics professor Glenn Loury praised Snitch as "must reading for anyone concerned about the future of 'law and order' in America." Manhattan Institute Scholar John McWhorter called Snitch one of the "strongest, smartest" books about race in the past decade.

Ethan's third book--Shake the Devil Off: A True Story of the Murder that Rocked New Orleans--was published by Henry Holt in the fall of 2009. Evan Wright, author of the New York Times bestseller Generation Kill, called Shake the Devil Off "a chilling portrait of a broken hero failed by the system." George Pelecanos, New York Times bestselling author of The Turnaround, said that "Ethan Brown examines a notorious murder case, rescues it from the talons of tabloid journalists, and comes up with something much more than a true crime book. Shake the Devil Off is a gripping suspense story, an indictment of the military's treatment of our soldiers in and out of war, and a celebration of the resilience and worth of a great American city." In a starred review, Publishers Weekly called Shake the Devil Off "heartbreaking" and Nate Blakeslee, author of Tulia, hailed the book as "a 'coming home' story that rivals any written about veterans of the war in Iraq, and a true crime account that raises the bar for the genre. Measured, thoroughly reported, and written with true empathy." David Simon, creator of The Wire and author of Homicide and The Corner, said that "looking more deeply at that from which the rest of us turned in horror, Ethan Brown has transformed an ugly and disturbing shard of the post-Katrina anguish. In this book, that which was lurid and sensational becomes, chapter by chapter, something genuinely sad and reflective, something that now has true meaning for New Orleans and for all of us." In September of 2009, Shake The Devil Off was chosen as a "Critics' Pick" in the Washington Post and an "Editors' Choice" by the editors of The New York Times Book Review. In December of 2009, the Washington Post named Shake the Devil Off one of the best books of 2009.


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