From Publishers Weekly
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.
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 TribbyCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved