3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: The Plot Against Hip Hop: A Novel (A D Hunter Mystery) (Paperback)
The combo of great indie publisher, great cover, provocative title, well-known author, and short length, prompted me to pick up this hip-hop thriller. Just to be clear, this isn't "Street Lit" or "Urban Fiction" or "Hood Lit" or anything of that nature, rather, it's a fairly conventional crime/detective genre novel set amidst the world of contemporary hip-hop, with a story line stretching back to the scene in the late '80s and early '90s. The hero is "D" -- the only one of four brothers to make it out of the rough Brownsville part of Brooklyn alive. He's managed to establish himself as the head of a very successful security firm specializing in the world of hip-hop, working award shows, video shoots, private parties, and soforth. When his friend and widely respected music critic Dwayne Robinson dies in a bloody heap on his doorstep, he doesn't buy the official explanation that Robinson was the random target of a gang initiation attack. Instead, he starts poking around, asking questions, which soon leads him down a rabbit hole of conspiracy theorists with some wild ideas about who is trying to do what to black people in America.
All of which starts pointing him to a mysterious report from the late '80s (inspired by the real-life Harvard report from the '70s) which is reputedly about how hip-hop can be leveraged and marketed -- and perhaps even co-opted a tool of social control. D's investigation centers on New York and L.A., and is finds him rubbing shoulders with big names of today, and name-checking big names of the past. Even as he searches for this report so that he can try and learn if it had something in it worth killing his friend for, he struggles with the reality that the all-pervasive hip-hop culture that pays his bills is an artistically weak but commercially huge business (Drake comes under particular criticism), compared to the artistically strong hip-hop of his youth (political and conscious acts such as PE and BDP get much love in this book), which weren't as prevalent in mainstream culture. (I guess I'm kind of the perfect reader, because my sympathies are right in line with D's when it comes to the state of mainstream hip-hop -- which is not to say there isn't some great stuff lurking in the underground.)
In any event, as the story progresses, there are some more murders, and a love interest to spice things up. The short chapters and uptempo pacing make it a quick, page-turning read, although it sometimes grinds to a halt for a paragraph to explain some reference or another. As a crime genre book it's decent, not amazing, but decent -- I struggled a bit with whether I felt like it was likely that people were killed for the motives that are eventually revealed. But if you're into hip-hop, it'd definitely worth the short time it takes to read. If you're not into hip-hop, I can't imagine it would do much for you, since the story is so deeply immersed in that world. In the end, D is an engaging hero, and one I wouldn't mind reading another book about.