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Queens Reigns Supreme: Fat Cat, 50 Cent, and the Rise of the Hip Hop Hustler Paperback – November 22, 2005

4.5 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

  • Queens Reigns Supreme: Fat Cat, 50 Cent, and the Rise of the Hip Hop Hustler
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  • The Supreme Team: The Birth of Crack and Hip-Hop, Prince's Reign of Terror and The Supreme/50 Cent Beef Exposed (Street Legends)
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  • Street Legends, Vol. 1
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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
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor (November 22, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400095239
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400095230
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #646,328 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
Got this as a Christmas gift. Finished it in 2 days, its an addictive and easy read. I'd heard of many of these guys (the 80's hustlers) on various tv shows, etc., but a great quality of this book is the way in which their individual stories are woven together - a deceptive sense of "fullness" is generated, like NOW you've got the whole story. The point where the cop is shot in cold blood while in his car, I kind of DID get the feeling of how the entire city was on edge (at the time I'm writing this, in NYC 2 cops were recently killed in a similar way, race protests are popping up all over the country, and all of this gives a tactile feel to this books' stories, and makes it easy to imagine.)

But, its not the WHOLE story, because this book is really talking only about a small area of NYC, and New York is a BIG place! There's LOTS of things that *I think I know* that never made this book, probably because of the smaller scale of the book's focus (or, because I don't "know" jack s***, ha!). For instance, not ONE TIME is the name Wu-Tang mentioned, and those guys have claimed to have been very active in those early/mid-80's hustling scenes, too. My guess is that they're from a different area, and thus would have had their OWN local street heroes and stories, etc. And I've read (ahem, on the internet) that Fat Joe had been a BIG mover of product in his youth. These are stories that need to be dug up and memorialized, in addition to what is in this book....

So that's kind of what this book makes me want - this is ONE piece of the pie, but there needs to be more books that examine that same time period but from the OTHER areas of the city, the OTHER guys who were also doing it in the 80's, and who were thus influencing the rappers who came up later.
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Format: Paperback
BUMBO CLOT! Like I said in the title QUEENS TRULY REIGNS SUPREME!

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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Format: Paperback
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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