Basketball and rap rank as the two most popular legitimate routes out of the ghetto. But for every Michael Jordan and Puff Daddy, scores of talented youth living below the poverty line will never make it--victims of circumstances beyond their control. Sensational, a member of this nameless, faceless multitude is determind not to end up as a statistic. He is strong-willed, confident, charismatic, and makes some the most innovative and original music ever heard. His dream--really his sole aim in life--is to break into the music industry and become a rap star. But he can't seem to shake the trouble that follows him like a shadow.
In Crooked , Sensational risks everything for his dreams, facing harrowing odds and numerous hurdles along the way. Not your typical urban tale, Crooked chronicles the real-life struggles of a true artist and eccentric trying to fit into a mainstream world ruled by MTV and pop radio. In this crooked world where cash rules, hype prevails over truth and illusion over reality, loyalty and trust are precious commodities.
Sensational's aspirations are given a tremendous boost early on when he meets Xane at an open-mic competition in Brooklyn. A Hispanic kid from the 'hood who made good and went to an Ivy league college, Xane combines street smarts with worldliness and social savvy. Heavily into deejaying and music, he sells marijuana while trying to figure out his calling in life.
One of Xane's customers turns out to be Brad Lombardi, a former college-mate and typical Trust-fund kid, whose well-connected father set him up with a cushy A&R position at (the fictitious) major label, Reaction Records. It is also at Reaction where Xane meets and falls for Mo, a Dominican beauty who works as the label's publicist.
When Xane almost gets busted by an undercover cop on the subway while carrying his marijuana deliveries, he decides it's time for a career change, and resolves to become Sensational's manager. He tries to get Sensational a deal at Reaction Records or, at least, start his own label.
Unfortunately, Sensational is evicted from his apartment, and finds himself living a hand-to-mouth existence on the streets. He winds up spending the night in jail for selling marijuana to an undercover cop. In a desperate attempt to literally make money, Sensational enlists the aid of Xane's friend, Sachs, a computer hacker, in a counterfeiting scheme. Successful in their bold plan, Sensational indulges in a huge shopping spree, only to alert the feds with his reckless and excessive spending.
At a Reaction Records party, Xane introduces Sensational to Brad, and secures a meeting with Brad to play him Sensational's demo. Sensational, who has also taken up dealing crack to make some money, gives a free sample to Brad, a serious cokehead, to curry favor. Later, at the meeting, Brad seems to be more interested in Sensational's drug connections than his music. Ever the opportunist, Sensational offers to help Brad get a kilo of cocaine in exchange for free studio time to finish his demo. When Xane discovers Sensational's plans they have a falling out. Xane also splits with Mo after he discovers that she and Brad have been involved with each other.
Meanwhile, Sensational convinces Sachs to help him counterfeit one more batch of money. He substitutes the fake money for Brad's real money, and uses it to pay for the kilo of coke in a deal that goes down at the Brooklyn Navy yard. With money in his pockets and a week of free studio time to complete his demo, Sensational's dream finally appears to be within reach. But with the feds on the case as well as an angry drug-dealer, who finds out he's been cheated, everything is far from straight.
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