DEPARTMENTS Does Crime Pay...Literally?
Anthony Whyte tackles the question. An in-depth look at some of the urban fiction's top authors and how their writing careers began behind bars.
Donald Goines, Never Die Alone: a look inside the life of a legend is served up by Erick Gray, Cast the First Stone. In her ode to Chester Himes, Lydia Hyatt exposes the genius of his legend.
SLR shines light on two sizzling authors: Kwan, Do Your House Work, and Erick S. Gray, Going For It All.
Just Around The Corner
On and popping in The Blue Circle, first-time author Keisha Seignious teases, tickles and delivers. From the pen to Harlem, author Sharron Doyle reps with a hot debut novel, If It Ain't One Thing It's Another.
Book Game 101: Crafting A Classic
Prospective authors listen up! Class is in session! Shannon Holmes, author of B'More Careful and other classics, drops the science.
FEATURES Readers Top 10
The title says it all. It’s your ranking of the best literary work out there,minus all the politics.
Gadgets and Gizmos
Having the latest toys never gets old. Cop these frivoulous but fun electronics to keep up with the Joneses.
So You Got Jokes?
Think you’re funnier than Richard Pryor in his prime? That’s doubtful, but at least you can send your jokes here for some shine and avoid getting booed.
A Day In The Life
This is where we’ll take youfor a walk through the daily happenings of a trendsetter in the publishing industry. Read closely for tips on how to change the game. 5
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In today’s literary field, never has there been such an outbreak of
Jason Claiborne, Anthony Whyte
new authors from and books on the urban landscape. It has reached
a point where the roadways to literary freedom, once clogged by the
acute demands of major houses, are now being cleared by a wave
of talented authors. Some, like Goines, Slim and Himes, have
knocked down doors and enabled the new scribes to rush in and
take the game over. They present stories which are fresh, brash and EXECUTIVE EDITOR:
bold. This is the same flavor offered by Street Literature Review, a
magazine that's designed to keep the reading audience up on what's
Ant Whizzo, Shannon Holmes, Blaine Martin
popping on the urban literary scene. The first edition pays tribute
to street legends Goines, Himes and Slim and features today's stars,
Erick S. Gray and K'Wan. Shannon Holmes, the Don of Street Lit,
shares his secrets on writing. The articles are entertaining and serve
Joy Leftow, Leah Whitney
to inform the reading audience on some of the things that take
place in the background. We have opened the ave for readers!
Shannon Holmes, Lisette Matos, Erick S Gray, CONTRIBUTING WRITERS:
Let SLR know what ya life like. One,
Erick Gray, Blaine Martin, James Hendricks CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS:
William Alicea, Sanyi Gomez, Michael Benabib, Jason Claiborne ILLUSTRATORS:
Kel 1st, Venus ADVERTISING
Editor in Chief: Blaine Martin New York Office: (201) 655 2122 MARKETING DIRECTOR:
Address all editorial, business and production correspondence to: Street Literature Review 33 Indian Road, Suite 3k New York, NY 10034 #3k. Visit us online @
streetlitreview.com Ad Sales inquiries:
firstname.lastname@example.org General Inquiries contact:
email@example.com Editorial Inquiries contact:
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HOLLA! that the books that she has been reading are assessable and quick reads and their characters and situations are real; something that she can relate to. Shanica feels that the authors are able to depict situations that either she or someone close to her has experienced. She notes that in the books that she reads, the writer is free to express himself with the use of Ebonics and grammar from their hood. “I can identify ‘cause these books are street and some of the ‘black books’ can only be found on the streets.”
What do you think about the reemergence of Black Literature? Some believe that we’re in the midst of the Black Literature Renaissance. It seems as though everywhere you go - laundromat, train or beauty parlor - you see someone reading a “Black Book” and these authors are not on the New York Times Best Sellers List but they do have the readership of tens of thousands. This comeback is not solely for the female population but also for the young and male population.
Martin, a father of two teenage daughters from Manhattan said that it seems his daughters are only interested in reading street lit but he encourages them because he’s just happy that their reading. Martin also stated that he has read several of the books that the girls leave around the home. He admitted that the books are graphic and use vile language, but what book doesn’t! Martin confessed that he constantly tells the girls that the books are fiction and they should not strive to attain or emulate the characters that they have read about. He also said that he now knows more ‘hip’ to hip hop cultural slang’ that his daughters use.
Is this the Black Literature Renaisance? Tanya, a 30 something mother of two from the Bronx, said she remembers back in the day when she used to read books of a different nature; love, relationships and fairy tale endings. Now she reads books about drugs and drug dealing, hustling and hoes, sexuality and homosexuality. But isn’t it all the same shit, different era! Toni Morrison, Terri McMillan, Omar Tyree and E. Lynn Harris were some of the first books that she read. Now she reads novels by such authors as Terri Woods, Zane, Carl Weber and Shannon Holmes, and autobiographies by Wendy Williams and SuperHead.
If you have any questions, gossip or just have beef that you need to vent, holla at ya girl… Lydia Hyatt firstname.lastname@example.org
Shanica, a High School student also from the Bronx said that she never read for pleasure in the past, only the required literature for school. She adds
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Does Crime Pay...
Literally? Comes to Harlem” were read by moms and pops, old school folks to be exact. They belong to an era when black pride openly defied the system and challenged the man. The titles were well received and applauded. “No idea is original…” So it is that street fiction lives on. The sub-genre was born when titles such as Coldest Winter Ever, True To The Game, Be More Careful and Ghetto Girls appeared and dominated the urban reading scene. This breed of reality based fiction is raw and being sought by sons and daughters of the Hip Hop era. The culture is growing and the sub-genre is attracting the eyes and ears of the mighty publishing establishment. Chin-ching! These books are breaking down walls and barriers by giving voice to new writers. Some are former inmates and others are physically incarcerated. Writing from jail may very well prove cathartic but don’t take this as society’s forgiveness to former transgressors. It may serve as a vehicle for gangsters to rid themselves of past transgressions…a chance to come clean.
What is Hip-hop Literature? The sub-genre of urban fiction has spawned a new genre and given birth to present-day street drama. Known as Hip-Hop Lit, it has single-handedly saved the fledgling urban book market and given opportunity to a whole new era of urban authors.
The hottest sub-genre of urban fiction Way back when it was referred to as street pulp, titles such as Goines’s Whoreson, Never Die Alone, Dopefiend and Black Gangster along with Iceberg Slim’s Mama Black Widow and going back to stories by Chester Himes like “If he Hollers Let Him Go” and “Cotton
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in this case. Holmes met Vicki Stringer, another fiction writer and a woman who had also done time, while she was on tour for her first novel. Stringer’s first novel Let That Be the Reason garnered her success and eventually she was signed to a major deal with Simon and Schuster. She developed a successful publishing company, Triple Crown Publishing, which is geared toward developing urban stories with a street edge. The company has also launched the career of writers Nikki Turner and Kwan Foye. Both are currently signed to major publishing houses at this time. And like Kwan said, “I thank Shannon and Vickie, they did their thing. They looked out for a brother.” Kwan’s new title Street Dreams is being published by urban Publishing giant St Martins Press and will be out in the fall. “I was young, a hard head so I went to jail but I’m okay now,” Kwan said as he sat between busy schedules to discuss his new project. “Things are getting better everyday, a brother can eat.”
Street literature and the rise of the hottest sub genre in urban lit. Writing took a turn with the release and success of Coldest Winter Ever, piggy-backing on the popularity of Hip Hop music fiction, . Written by Sistah Souljah, the groundbreaking novel depicts life of an urban teenage girl and an abusive father. It was published in 1998 by Putnam Books and marked the first in what was to be a slew of urban contemporary fiction. The hinges of the door to the seemingly guarded world of publishing were sent flying. Before her venture into fiction writing, true Hip-Hop followers knew about Sistah Souljah. Many others were introduced to her through her writing. Coldest Winter Ever also drew in younger audiences. Many were reading a novel outside the school curriculum for the first time. The ability to identify with characters that weren’t farfetched, who could’ve been an uncle or a mother lent reality to the fiction and added to its rise. With her first release, Sister Souljah affected the music industry, the fashion empire and took steady aim on the world of fiction. This bettered her chance to be successful, fewer however knew of Shannon Holmes.
The support has been tremendousand this is not lost on big business. Who is signing and what are they looking for?
When Holmes’s first novel B-More Careful hit bookstores in 1999 (published by Meow Meow Publishing now known as TWP), Holmes ran into the identity problem. “First people didn’t believe that Shannon Holmes is a man and then after reading the story they didn’t believe that I wrote it.” Holmes, who is currently signed with Simon and Schuster for big money and is currently on tour with his current title Bad Girlz, is dazzling in the light but unfazed by it. He should be because Homes made the transition from bad citizen to good guy. Holmes has done time in three states for crimes and has paid for his deeds against society. Now he quietly shares his thoughts in what has become a lucrative market for urban writers. Six months after its release, his new novel is atop the urban market bestsellers list. Both novels were written while Holmes was incarcerated. “I started writing when I was locked down,” Holmes said in a break from touring. “This older guy showed me two manuscripts he had finished and I read them and thought if he could do this then I could too.” After reading a copy of Terri Woods self published novel TrueTo The Game, Holmes sent copies of his first completed manuscript to Woods. Woods was then developing writers for her publishing company Meow Meow productions now TWP. The rest is his story or stories
This idea that there is money to be made in street lit echoes through corridors of the writing establishment. Most of the major publishing houses, including Simon and Schuster, Random House and St Martins press, have signed or are seeking to sign a writer with that caliber of story that will fit in this lucrative and expanding HipHop market. In the last year alone at least six titles released by the majors were of the street genre “I can’t keep those books in my store, they fly off the shelves. Ms Villarosa, of Harlem’s largest bookstore, Hue-man Bookstore said. “Young people want to read and identify with characters and this is what…I say Hip Hop fiction brings. They call it being real.” Whether it’s real or not is another matter, but it is safe to say that street literature’s resurgence is driving a recently declining urban reading market back to respectability. It has proven to the book world that there is a market for African American writers in much the same way that Black films of the seventies did for the film industry; it cultivated talent while guaranteeing success of the film in the urban markets. And the success of such independent publishing companies like TWP, Urban Books Triple Crown Publishing, MeloDrama Publishing, Qboro Books, Amiaya Entertainment and Augustus Publishing eas-
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ily proves Hip Hop lit is on the rise. Readership continues to soar and as the audience shifts to the mainstream, the urban market remains ripe for new authors.
penal system. “If my stories affect a person where he or she does not make some of the mistakes my characters do, then I’m doing my job. More props to me…” Shannon Holmes said. “I’m not writing sump’n I don’t know. I lived it.” He did. Holmes was incarcerated for five years. Mark Anthony, publisher at Qboro Books says, “I would like to see the urban fiction market continue to grow and develop where it is the number one genre in publishing.” To this end Mark Anthony formed his own indie publishing house, Q-Boro Books, and currently has a staff of signed authors including Erick S. Gray. Also offering a refuge for voices are independent houses such as Augustus Publishing, Melo Drama Books and Amiaya Entertainment. These companies are following the blueprint established by successful Hip -Hop record labels back in the early eighties (e.g. Def Jam). The music made it happen big, now literature avidly follows the same path of success.
How are they surviving? The slant toward independent companies developing writers was something borrowed from the world of rap music. The philosophy back in the day was that on every corner, there’s a rapper. So too in the world of urban fiction, street lit’s philosophy might be: in every jail house there is a writer. And if there is one, the independent publisher will surely find him or her. Repping the females are Vicky Stringer who wrote Let That Be the Reason and Wahida Clarke who penned both Thugs and the Women Who Love Them and Every Thug Needs a Lady. Ms Wahida Clarke is still doing time. Shannon Holmes reps for the guys. Recent emerging writers include Leondrei Prince (Bloody Money), Antwoine Inch Thomas (Flowers Bed}. Both Prince and Inch are incarcerated. There are more untold stories and there are writers whose names are not on the list because of fear of reprisals. What do you do if you don’t want to mention homeboys or your co-defendant government, and you got time but want to write the story? Shannon Holmes offers a simple solution. “If in real life the situation went down during the day then set the story at night. If it was a girl, make it a guy. In fiction you can change anything up and no one will be the wiser. In real life you can’t do that, you go to jail.”
Let’s say,for instance, you didn’t take heed to the warnings that your phone was tapped and you were being videotaped while dealing drugs. Your activities land you in jail. Stop sitting around waiting for someone to invite you anywhere else. Reach deep inside and find out why you’re where you are. Write it down chronologically at first then switch the facts around to suit your needs. Develop character background, and, like Holmes said, “In fiction, your main characters need conflicts, struggle and strife to survive.” Does crime really pay? Literally? Judging from some of the authors’ success one could argue that it does. However for every crime committed, there’s a victim, someone who’s left suffering the consequences. In the writing world there are victims and casualties. Writers who are hungry and anxious will fall prey to greedy publishers. So if you’re inspired to jot a lil’ sump’n down for da streets to feel or aspire to become a scribe, then do your homework carefully. Research, write or talk to other authors who are in the genre. This might dispell any dreamy ideas of EZ Street that you may have once harbored in your head. One love.
Breaking down the approach of different authors Anthony Whyte has known many a criminal mind and has written stories from his point of view. The story Ghetto Girls, published in 2003, is the first of a trilogy of teenage stories about actual people’s lives, with a little embellishment to keep it interesting. The story has become a top seller in the urban market. The much anticipated sequel Ghetto Girls Too is currently in stores. The spring of 2006 will see the coming to end of the trilogy in Ghetto Girls 3 - Soo Hood, published by Augustus Publishing. Other writers employ purely creative visions in setting up their stories but most draw it from experience. Writers such as Mark Anthony (Paper Chasers) and Erick Gray (Booty Call) know the stories of guys sitting in jail and how these stories got started. They write in the hopes that their stories may prevent others from joining the wave of perpetual visits by young men and women to the
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Ant Whyte lives and writes in NY. He can be contacted via e-mail: email@example.com
GOINES By Erick S. Gray
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From Sister Souljahâ€™s The Coldest Winter Ever to Shannon Holmesâ€™s B-More Careful, street literature has been on the rise. In the past four years, urban fiction has elevated to where mainstream publishers want in on the genre and are offering lucrative deals to African American authors. Like rap and sports, writing is another way out for young adults who want to escape poverty and the streets. But as we progress toward a productive future in street literature, we must acknowledge the past and pay respect to the roots
of street literature, to where it began. Legends such as Iceberg Slim, Langston Hughes, and the infamous Donald Goines paved the way for African American authors today. Donald Goines, a legend in his era and still a holding up to today’s standards today, has had sixteen books published; from Black Girl Lost, Daddy Cool, to Swamp Man and Never Die Alone. Two of his books have been turned into feature films: Never Die Alone and Crime Partners. Goines depicted inner city street life back in the 1970’s: dope fiend characters like Jo-Jo, stick-up men like Jackie and Billy Good, cold-blooded hit men like Daddy Cool, and ruthless Kingpins such as Kenyatta. His books opened a window to life on the streets and were raw and to the point. He painted a picture about a world that most of society will look down upon—a world filled with murderers, pimps, drug-dealers, prostitutes and thieves. He didn’t, however, glorify the street life in his books, as most outcomes in his stories were dramatic and usually resulted in tragedy or death. Born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1937, Goines had many setbacks in his time, one of which being a heroin addict himself. But despite this, he managed to write sixteen books in just five years — remarkable! He lived the street life and was once himself “a career criminal”. He was a pimp, a truck driver, a factory worker and even did time in prison. He received seven prison sentences, serving a total of over six years. But he also
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served in the military; his tour of duty ended in 1955. As we say in the streets, real recognizes real, and Goines knew how to tell a story about hardship, pimping, and struggling with addictions, ranging from drugs to selling your body to make ends meet. He didn’t just tell it, he lived it and was definitely about it. Unfortunately, Donald Goines’s life came to a tragic end in 1974 when he gunned down. Although he’s not here physically, his work still lives on through admirers and devoted readers. Everyday his legacy grows exponetially throughout the community as artists like 2pac praise his gift for capturing the realities of the streets. Not unlike 2pac, Goines had a way with words and knew how to tell a story to captivate his audience. Even Hollywood has taken notice of Donald Goines’s works, producing two films based on his novels. It’s been thirty years since his death, but street literature is on a rise as America has started to take notice of the gritty streets and is intrigued by a hustler’s lifestyle. Goines’s books helped open doors to authors like K’wan, Shannon Holmes and Anthony Whyte who radiate talent and a have harnessed a gift for riviting storytelling. Who knows what the future holds for the urban genre and for many up and coming African American authors? It’simpoosbile to predict this, but I do know this, Donald Goines’s books and writing style has landed him a place in literary immortality.
HIMES Chester Bomar Himes pursued medicine but writing needed Himes’ touch. With that understood, it’s not hard to understand why he wound up penning some of the best novels under the harshest conditions. Through his writings, Himes took aim not only at the unimagineable racism his day but also offered a satirical and humorous view of society. A great storyteller, Himes did things his way. Not only did he write stories of social satire, but with equal skill also authored mysteries, protest novels and short stories. And Himes did it under con-
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ditions where others would find it hard to simply exist. He was born in Jefferson City, Missouri but grew up in Cleveland. His strong and proud half-white mother pushed him to be independent. She also encouraged him to write. His father was a teacher who was seen as a weaker influence and once steered the young Himes into signing a waiver not to sue a hotel in Cleveland after being hurt on the job. In the first volume of his autobiography, The Quality of Hurt, he wrote: “My
father was born and raised in the tradition of the Southern Uncle Tom; that tradition derived from an inherited slave mentality which accepts the premise that white people know best, that blacks should accept what whites offer and be thankful, that blacks should count their blessings. My mother, who looked white and felt that she should have been white, was the complete opposite....She was a tiny woman who hated all manner of condescension from white people and hated all black people who accepted it.” The couple’s differences created bitter arguments. When he graduated high school, young Himes enrolled at Ohio State University but eventuually dropped out. He left early with habits of the man he would later become. Himes drank heavily, gambled hard and used opium. He began hanging with the underworld, committing petty crimes and later at the age of 19 years stared down a twenty year sentence for armed robbery. In 1928 he entered Ohio State Penitentiary and the writing bug bit him during his bid. By the time of his parole in 1936 he had become transformed into a nationally known writer. After writing a series of short stories, Himes submitted his work from the cell to black newspapers and magazines. He was published in Abbotts Monthly and the Pittsburg Courier. Himes penned many tomes from inside the walls of the penitentiary during his seven year bid. This earned him respect amongst his fel-
low inmates. When Esquire finally published him in 1934, his writing skill was released to the entire world. After his release in 1936, Himes was paroled to live with his mother, who had moved to Columbus to be near the prison and also to help his brother Joseph while he studied at Ohio State. But Himes picked up where he had left off. His mother discovered he’d been smoking marijuana and reported him to his parole officer, who sent him to live with his father in Cleveland. The change of environment helped Himes. He started working again and resumed writing. In 1937 he married Jean Johnson. Eight years later, he completed his first novel, If He Hollers Let Him Go, a story of bigotry in the workplace. The book was a commercial failure. His popularity may solely rest on a series of detective novels, which follow the exploits of a pair of Black Harlem police detectives: that series spawned three movies, including 1970’s Cotton Comes to Harlem. Based on his 1947 novel by the same name, Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones are two fictitious New York detectives fighting racism their way on an all white police department. Himes was prolific and his humor was played up by his characters, such as Mamie Mason, a married white woman from his 1961 novel Pink Toes. In this character, Himes created a character with an unpardon-
able perspective on black and white race relations. His raw 1952 novel Cast the First Stone transported readers into the devastation and inhumane suffering of a convict. Although Himes was at his peak, he encountered problems in getting the novel published. The main characters had a homosexual relationship, which was frowned on by the literary gatekeepers of the day. At a time when important black figures were caving to the demands of the oppressive slave master, Himes recognized the need for impressive characters and brought them out in a string of novels that burned the bookshelves. From 1947 through his death in Spain in 1984, Himes published 17 top novels, 60 short stories and two autobiographical volumes. Thequestion that is most riveting for this true master of the tome is not why his life had to be such a painful journey but was the legacy of words that he left all worth it? Himes revealed unique knowledge by creating a world where real images and memorable characters mirrored those of society. The portrayals were sometimes rejected because it showed the dark side of human nature and the corrupting influence of racism. Himes was posthumously honored in Chicago in October of 1998 when he was inducted into Chicago State University’s National Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent. A doctor of the art, Chester Himes has been referred to as a writer’s writer. Still, his literary works should be read by all.
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KWAN do your home work
Kwan Foye is sitting at ground zero of the major explosion in urban literature. Referred to as Hip Hop Lit or Street Literature, the fallout is now spreading from the doors of urban bookstores to the whole wide world. Like Goines and Slim before him, Kwan Foye is stationed to be an ambassador in the art of street lit. “I got joints coming because I’m still passionate about this sh... I’m still hungry,” Kwan Foye said, grabbing me by the shoulder in a bear hug. He ran off a list of twelve titles in his reserve of wealth. This talented writer is brash
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with city swagger to match. He has to be, he’s walking in the footsteps of Goines and Slim. Don’t think he’s only street content. He comes armed with an unlimited arsenal of writing talent. He’s got a lot more to offer. Kwan Foye kicked back, lit up and spoke of reading his influences: Iceberg Slim, Donald Goines and Eric Jerome Dickey. Kwan exhaled and remembered how it all got started. “I had just read Vicki Stringer’s successful first title Let That Be the Reason. I shot her an e-mail complimenting her.” In less than a New York minute, Kwan Foye was signed to
his first deal with the newly formed Triple Crown Publishing, of which Vicki Stringer is the publisher. “It happened quite by accident.” Kwan recalls constantly writing and became increasingly interested when he, as he puts it, “felt the pain” of his favorite author Donald Goines. Coincidentally, there are some similarities in their lifestyles. Kwan however is trying to manage his life better by focusing on longevity. “I would like to own my own successful independent publishing
company. I want to offer a voice to young new talented writers that fell through the cracks, you know? Those passed over by mainstream publishers.” Kwan knows all about commitment and has been writing for decades. It took the birth of his daughter to give him the push he needed to become the man he has grown to be. He used to write poetry but now admits to not writing enough anymore because “it doesn’t feel right. Back then everything seemed so much uglier. I was young and frustrated, and there were things I wanted to get off my chest.” He admitted that the book Gangsta came from being in such a mood but Kwan also saw the brighter side of the struggle through books by Eric Jerome Dickey. Kwan said he liked the style of character development that the top selling author employed. “It opened my eyes to something new, something different.” Kwan Foye has done what many of his predecessors have done and he wants to do more. After signing with Triple Crown Publishing, he penned Gangsta (2002), Road Dawgs (2003) and had a hand in the short story, Game. Kwan signed with a major house, St. Martin’s Press, and in 2004 was responsible for the bestseller Street Dreams. His current title, Hoodlum, hit bookstores in July 2005 with all the aggresiveness that the name implies. Kwan is a proven success story and is poised for even more when he launches his own independent publishing house, Black Dawn Books. The first title is a slick story called Lazarus by author Sonny Black. Kicking in doors and stomping down barriers, Kwan Foye trudges on. He’s got joints and coming soon is another title, Eve (2006, St Martins Press). Kwan would like to develop his other interests in writing but promises to always satisfy the reader. He believes readers are most important as he says, “They buy our books.” Through it all, Kwan stays close to who he holds dear to him. Despite dazzling the industry with his talent, he remains low key and close to his family and beliefs. His advice to all new authors coming in the game: “Do your homework.” Ant Whyte / firstname.lastname@example.org
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ERICKSGRAY going for it all
Among the ghetto celeb novelists of his day, Erick Gray is easily the writer least interested in doing anything but writing a good story. Since his successful debut novel Booty Call in 2003, Gray has been busy building a career writing Hip-Hop fiction. With such current titles as: Ghetto Heaven (QBoro Books 2004) Money, Power, Respect (QBoro 2005), Streets of New York Vols.1,2 & 3 and Booty Call *69 (Augustus Publishing 2005), Erick Gray is following his own road signs to success. “Building your name and motivating your-
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self.” These are some of the tools that Erick Gray says he has used for navigation in his quest to become a legend in the writing game. He has witnessed first hand the down side of the industry and was once signed to a declining and mismanaged company, Black Print Publishing. Signed to Black Print Publishing in 2002, Gray received no money from his royalties and saw how poor promotions can damage sales. Readers, beware of Black Print Publishing, known for deep-sixing every writer that’s
been signed with them. You’ve been duly cautioned. Despite the disgusting treatment, Gray remained steadfast and true to himself. “I never let the disappointment get me down or discourage me. I wouldn’t let that fade me.” Gray says. Fresh off a two-book stint with QBoro Books, the writer is currently signed to a powerhouse, St Martin’s Press, and now sees a better pay off. He wants readers to learn from the messages in his novels and hopefully enrich their lives. A self described ‘low-key
brother’ Erick Gray advises: “What you do out there is going to affect you and others.”
Now Gray was set for the next phase of his journey. “It was done just for fun.” Eric Gray recalls. But it also opened doors and led to a meeting with Carl Weber, who at the time was with the aforementioned Black Print Publishing (Mama, grab your writers and run.) Weber signed Gray and it’s been anchors away ever since.
As a youngster in his Southside Queens, NY neighborhood, the writer harbored dreams of becoming a rapper like others before him. He wrote lyrics and dabbled in poetry. He began writing short stories after graduating from high school. “I felt that I had something to say. I wanted to be heard.” Erick Gray’s intro to the game came when he read Urban Massacre, a story of the hustle in a Queens’ neighborhood, written by Mark Anthony. The story revved something in Gray’s engine and sent him scurrying to pen his first novel in ’99 entitled The Wealth. “It’s a story about the music biz,” says Gray.
“Your main goal should always be to get it done and put in work.” Gray warns newcomers to the game. True to his words, Gray has been practicing exactly what he preaches. He recently concluded a promotional tour for his book, Money, Power, Respect. Gray is also readying himself for the release of his sixth title, It’s Like Candy (St. Martins Press March 2007).
“I don’t want to be typecast as a street fiction writer—I want to write science fiction, real family drama, comedy, romance,” Gray says. The writer who lists another Qboro native, Mark Anthony, along with Michael Baisden, James Patterson and Sista Souljah, amongst his influences, has directed his course toward achieving greatness. By the look of things Erick Gray is walking that walk. Ant Whyte / email@example.com
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These titles have been flying off the newstands (and tables) from borough to boruough and city to city, so if you want to know what people are reading, you've come to the right place.
Ghetto Girls 3: Soo Hood Anthony Whyte The critically acclaimed Ghetto Girls series continues with Soo Hood. Enticingly delicious and sexy, Ghetto Girls 3 is the best Hip Hop literature ever. Soo Hood grabs you by the throat and stays in your face from the beginning. Tensions mount and there is no letting up till the mutha%#$&*@$ drama is over. Anthony Whyteâ€™s latest edition to the hottest Hip Hop saga is thrilling, action-packed and unpredictable. Above all, itâ€™s really Soo Hood.
Stripped Jacki Simmons Trina ain't hardly the baddest bitch. Trust me, the diamond princess ain't have a damn thing on La Perla. She, no matter how many songs she writes, will never be me. She claims that shit; I lived that shit. And then some. Furs kept me warm. Diamonds weighed me down. My ass got permanent jet lag from all the trips I was taking. Parking lot full of cars, safe full of money, cabinets full of liquor. The finest men in the world beat my door down trying to get a taste. All I had to do was smile to get whatever I wanted. I can still smell the blaze they used to hit with me; the champagne that flowed for me is still on my lips. I'm still smiling thinking about how fun those parties were. I had been a good girl my whole life, and when I finally broke out of my shell, I was ready to give 'em hell. Augustus Publishing
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Guilty As Sin Cole Riley Desperate Times Lead To Desperate Measure. After a failed bank robbery attempt and a shootout with the cops, the heat is on! The robbers are forced to take a white woman hostage to make their get away. With her life on the line, the woman takes the desperate robbers to her house. Now with four hostages: the woman, her former judge husband, and their two children, the bandits are set to lay low in suburbs.
The Take Down Mark Anthony Desperate Times Lead To Desperate Measure. After a failed bank robbery attempt and a shootout with the cops, the heat is on! The robbers are forced to take a white woman hostage to make their get away. With her life on the line, the woman takes the desperate robbers to her house. Now with four hostages: the woman, her former judge husband, and their two children, the bandits are set to lay low in suburbs.
Ice Cream For Freaks Dejon In the tradition of cult literary icon Donald Goines, Ice Cream For Freaks is written with a realness that accurately depicts the bleak conditions of the story's urban backdrop. The main character, Ice, has a reputation of being a brutal and daring stick-up kid, but when he lands in an upstate New York prison, both his reputation and his manhood come into question after an unforgettable and terrorizing encounter in his cell with a prison homo thug.
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In My Hood Endy Every city has a hood, and every hood has a drug-infested corner. As a once successful businesswoman, Desiree “Rae-Rae” Johnson use to avoid driving through that section of the neighborhood until she fell on hard times. After becoming a crack addict, she starts living with her soul mate Bilal “Bunchy” Wilson, the man who introduced her to cocaine.After witnessing a double murder and struggling to survive the everyday dramas to support their drug habits, they manage to pull off one of the biggest robberies in New Jersey's history. Between love, murder and a possible relapse, will they survive? Or will they be another statistic in this society in which we live? Have you seen this in your hood? Well, this is what happened In My 'Hood. Melodrama Publishing
Outlaw Roy Glenn Roy Glenn, the Master of Urban Suspense, returns with possibly his best novel to date Outlaw; a tale of money, power, love and betrayal. After settling some unfinished business, Mike Black finally returns to New York to retire and enjoy life. That is, until the police show up at his door, take him into custody, and chargehim for murder. His good friend and lieutenant, Freeze, is sure he knows who’s really responsible for the murder, and during Mike’s absence, takes the family to war. But a war’s not what Mike needs. Mike needs for the real killer to be found. Now, it’s up to an unlikely ally, Detective Kirkland, to find out who framed Mike Black for murder.
It Can Happen In A Minute S.M. Johnson It Can Happen In A Minute is a compelling story of love, deception, secrets, lies and making wrong decisions. From the beginning to a very explosive end, S.M. Johnson captivates, titillates and moves readers to tears. Take this journey with Samone who has been labeled the black sheep of her family. Slighted by the ongoing dynamic relationship between her mother and sister, Samone moves from Miami to D.C. But things aren’t so good in the hood. She shares life with her father but discovers damaging and grave secrets about him while living in his home. Samone finds herself trapped in a perilous corner where her only escape is to look out for herself. Has she run out of love? And will it be too late to move on? It Can Happen In A Minute is an unforgettable quick ride through heavy drama Augustus Publishing
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Death Before Dishonor 50 cent & Nikki Turner Trill Johnson has five years of jail time under his belt, two women trying to get inside his pants, and one mission in his heart of hearts: Get the suckers who sold him out. And get 'em good. Sunni James will do anything for Trill. Lie, cheat, steal. Even risk losing her successful beauty salon to save him from the mean streets of Richmond. Precious Pay will do anything for Trill, too. She cribbed his kid while he did his time, so now she wants Trill to pay for the leg she lost in a robbery gone wrong. But when love is a lie, who do you trust? When the deals turn dirty, who do you betray? And when the guns start blazing, who's going down?
It's Like Candy Erick S Gray Sisters River and Starr leave home in their early teenage years after a lifetime of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse at the hands of their drug-addicted mother. River joins a stick-up crew, robbing drug dealers and pimps after she tempts them with her beauty. But she doesn't know that her crew has one secret they won't even let her in on. As things on the streets get too hot to handle, the power wars come to a head in an explosive conclusion you gotta read to believe.
Hood Rat Kwan Hood Rat (n.): A woman of questionable repute, one who has been known to "get around" in the 'hood Yoshi is young, fine, and larcenous. She lives her life playing on men's hearts as well as their pockets. She learns the hard way that all that glitters isn't gold. The game soon turns ugly when one of her "sponsors" snaps and decides to get some payback. Harlem has never seen four friends as scandalous as these. The neighborhood will never be the same again
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Neglected No More Richard Jeanty Jimmy has skeletons in his closet and he knows that his could crash at anytime if the truth ever surfaces, but he must remain focused in order to overcome yet another hurdle in his life. Pastor Jacobs and Nina have always been Jimmy's support, but will Jimmy finally drain the energy out of them by asking them to make decisions that can potentially jeopardize their own lives? Will someone from Jimmy's past come back to haunt him or will his savior be a blast from the past? Neglected No More is the discovery of old kin and foes resurfacing to shape Jimmy and Nina's lives and test their their strength.
Dirty Red Vickie M Stringer In a scorching tale of love, lies, loss, and the indomitable spirit of a woman scorned, we meet Red in the midst of her game -- on the toilet of her boyfriend's apartment, faking a pregnancy. An eighteen-year-old expert at deception with a provocative femininity, Red employs her dirty ways to win a closet full of Gucci bags, a deluxe condominium full of baby accessories, a new car, and a book deal. But when Red's scams backfire and she winds up truly pregnant by her inmate ex-boyfriend, Bacon, Red finds herself in more trouble than she's ever known. The drama unravels when Red's picture-perfect cons fall apart due to the power of -- surprisingly -- love.
Lipstick Diaries Foreword by Crystal Lacey Winslow Various Female Authors Lipstick Diaries offers whatâ€™s best about the most brilliant female authors in the business. Hip Hop Literature is here to stay and the range of these stories varies from hood to hood. Woman to woman, all the stories are drama-packed with real characters and life-styles. Narrated in different voices, each story will fascinate readers from the start. These coming of age tales give insights on delicate experiences, tragedy and adult erotica. All captivating tales tainted by love starting right but going wrong, worse ending in heartbreak. Much to the readerâ€™s pleasure, the stories of Lipstick Diaries are not only exciting but also leaving no stones unturned, answering a lot of questions about the impact of motherhood. All stories are thoughtful and leave an ending like no other. Lipstick Diaries is guaranteed to amuse any audience. Augustus Publishing
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THE NASTY “TERRIBLE” T-KID Text by T-KID 170 / Edited by Celia San Miguel and Nick Torgoff Photography by T-KID, Martha Cooper, Henry Chalfant, Dr Revolt, COPE2, MYRE & ZEBSTER
The Nasty “Terrible” T-KID 170 is the autobiography of graffiti writer Julius Cavero aka T-KID 170. This autobiography chronicles the life of a gang member, turned graffiti artist and style mentor for urban youth—the uncensored Bronx hip-hop story. During a gang shoot-out in a local park, Julius Cavero suffered three shots to the leg, one nearly severing his major artery. Left for dead, by gang rivals and so-called comrades; T-Kid survived the ordeal only to come face-to-face with 3 weeks of intensive surgical procedures. In those three weeks, Julius Cavero sketched, endlessly. It was there that he chose to become T-KID 170—T for the tall and skinny look he had, and KID just because that’s what so many people called him. At that moment, Julius Cavero gave up gang life for a new vocation. T-Kid would now focus on art, specifically street art: GRAFFITTI. For preview images available for press use, please visit: http://www.righters.com/presse/tkid-press/-Tkid-press.zip For more information, please contact Alan Ket From Here to Fame, NYC Email: Alan.firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: (646) 696-1474
SIGNS OF THE TIMES a portrait of astruggle Signs of the Times is a series of postcard books documenting the mass public protests that took place in New York between 2003 and 2005 as a direct reaction to the ongoing conflict in Iraq. This series of photographic essays takes a candid look at those individuals who poured out onto the streets to protest what was seen by many to be unprompted aggression abroad by the U.S. government as a part of the “War on Terror”. Book 1: A Portrait of Struggle is a ground level view of the protest held at Washington Square Park in Manhattan, NYC on March 22, 2003 where an estimated 100,000 people left their homes and converged on Washington Square in an effort to have their voices heard by the media and therefore the world. rStegographica email@example.com www.Stegographica.com
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A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A PUBLISHER
SLR: You got that QBoro book going on, right?
SLR: So it’s a pretty stable routine, right? You get into the words, and then you get into the publishing aspect of things?
Mark Anthony: Yeah. I was basically trying to give authors that got shot down by mainstream publishers a shot. Right now we got a distribution deal with retailers like Wal-Mart and Barnes and Noble, so as far as that goes we’re on the same level as longer-running publishing houses.
MA: Yeah. One thing that helps is the people around here. I got a real good editorial director, Candace Cottrell. She’s kinda like, really, runs it. She’s really nuts and bolts. With me, I’m answering the phone all day. My mind’s on running the meetings, reading emails, it’s a million things, taking calls from authors and such. I got so much going on that it’s hard to keep track of all the details, you know what I’m saying? All the details that go into it before a book hits the book shelf. She’s the one that really holds me down as far as that’s concerned. I try to focus on the financial aspect of it and make sure all the authors are doing what they gotta do. I also have to watch
SLR: So I’m guessing you split your time between writing and having your hand in the QBoro Books movement? MA: Yeah. It gets harder as time goes... For me, it’s like writing stories, writing my books… is the most fun thing to do. What I try to do, around 8:30, that’s when my mind’s the freshest. First thing in the morning, I try to write, whenever its possible. Around 9, I focus on the editing stuff, you know, discuss things with my editor and making sure that that we’re on the same page. I can’t do both at the same time, so I write early and try to work on the publishing company throughout the day.
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how the book moves in the marketplace once the book first drops. All the technical stuff like making sure the covers are done for the book and making sure that the authors do the edits they need to do. The biggest problem for us in the beginning, when we first started, was distribution. It was a nightmare. In a sense of, it really wasn’t systematic. We’d be responsible for all the warehousing and all the shipping. Now when you deal with a company like Kensington, they warehouse all the books, they ship all the books, and you just sit back
and they pay you. As a publisher you don’t wanna be focused on all of that. You don’t want to get into distribution because it’ll be like your running two businesses. SLR: So you focus more on the material than pushing the stuff out? MA:Exactly. I also keep a close eye on how these books are performing on the shelves. I look at the numbers they’re doing every week, I check out how our returns are looking, so those are the things I’m looking at on the business side to make sure we are succeeding. It’s just gets hectic sometimes, because people come by the office making offers, schedules get rearranged and whatnot. Things come up that can get you sidetracked for a few hours. The earlier I get to that stuff, the better. SLR: You say you’re often manning the phone, checking emails, touching base with authors. I want to know the breakdown of the hours that you do your thing. MA:From like 6:30 to about 8:00am, I try to write, and get my stories down. From 8 to 8:30, I’m checking out emails and planning my day. Like if I gotta go to a meeting, if I gotta call this person or that person. Then around 9:15 or 9:30 when my editorial director gets in ever day or every other day I have a meeting with her to find out that status on every book. We publish about two books a month and what happens is even though a books is gonna be out in a few months it has to be at the printer earlier, and we look really bad if we get it out late. So from 9 to 930 I’m talking to her going over the production schedule, making sure we’re on track. From 10 to 12, I’m on the phone with authors. Around one to three, I used the time to go over business stuff to make sure certain bills are paid, checking performance of books. I got a partner Carl Webber, who runs Urban Books. I talk to him, and then there’s times I try to block out time for stuff that comes in. I cut my days short. If the day goes well, at three, my day’s over. From three on out I try to do what I wanna do. The whole environment is not a strict corporate setting, so I try my best to stick to the schedule to have the rest of the day for myself. On top of that I’m on the phone with bookstores and book clubs, because they’re the ones that put the material out. I try to build a repor with them, because our business depends upon it.
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Here's yet another spot where you, the reader, let your collective voice be heard. Every issue, we'll make a list of your favorite titles of the previous season. Next issue will feature your spring heavy hitters.
READERS TOP 10
1. Ghetto Girls Anthony Whyte 100% Hip Hop Literature
2. Killing Johnny Frye Walter Mosley Saucy sexually liberation + unforgivable betrayal = a man torn apart.
3. Ghetto Girls 3: So Hood Anthony Whyte Budding rap star and friends + dirty cops, bitter hired killer and music mogul = intense hood drama
4. Whore Tanika Lynch Struggling mother of two Detroit streetwalker + thug in shining armor = a match made in ghetto heaven.
5. Hood Rat -K’wan Four problem-ridden memorable characters + seven deadly sins = hell up in Harlem.
6. It Can Happen In a Minute S.M. Johnson Troubled and abused teenager on her own + deadbeat family members = a hard knock life.
7. Lady B. Moore Tova Streetsmart dancer + Cali demons = a fight to the death.
8. Caught ’Em Slippin’ Al Saadiq Banks Cuban/African sweetheart + Philly-bred hustler that does some time = either a rise to the top or football numbers for all involved.
9. Ridin' Dirty on I-95 Nikki Turner A father's life lessons handed down to his daughter and dreams of writing a profitable script + drug trafficking = putting it all on the line for a quick buck. 10. Death Around the Corner C. Murder New Orleans ghetto brutality + a man poised to succeed the legal way = a struggle to rise to the top.
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audience members reminiscing, while informing the new school, The Blue Circle works on all levels.
A LITTLE OLD SCHOOL BROUGHT BY A PROMISING NEW NOVEL KEISHA SEIGNIOUS
Keisha Seignious’s description of the dance moves and style awakens the reader to the sense of dance battles of early B-Boy music. Surging between the beats and rhymes of old school music is a built-in plot tension symbolized by the violence. The same type permeating in the air at rap shows. It stays for the duration of the story and allows the reader to be in the scene. The look and the feel of the times are served up by the story’s characters. Dawn, Keya, Cash and Forster’s relationship implodes as the B-Boy culture explodes to mainstream listeners and transforms to Hip Hop culture. The quartet grows apart and come back together through a tremendous bond of love and loyalty. Temptation abounds and preys on the development of their relationship. These friends endure the hars realities of personal growth and loss, envy and jealousy to somehow maintain a semblance of a budding urban relationship. And by the end of the story the reader will be hypnotized by the sounds and will feel love humming like the Heatwave’s classic, “Always And Forever”. In The Blue Circle, Keisha Seignious delivers as promised.
The Old school nature of relationships spreads love throughout the novel titled The Blue Circle by Keisha Seignious (Augustus Publishing 06). The story stirs the mind and sends the reader tripping through old times. Imagine sitting in early eighties Bronx. Up in a place where beats and rhymes of the B-Boy movement was about to coalesced into the most formidable force in music. The view is a great look into old school rap music that takes the audience to the era of ‘back in the days’. In true Hip Hop style, the story curves through a fictitious urban hangout and weaves itself around the relationship between four friends. Built on a raw view of summer jams in the park coupled with early rap music, Keisha Seignious’s first tome forms the basis of a solid writing career. The author gives valid description of the time through an alluring look inside the cultural fashion museum of the outrageous clothes mixed with the super-fresh lifestyle of the period. Firm like a B-Boy stance, each scene is vivid and the reader is rewarded wit realitly-based characters and offers the answer as to how the period relates to the quartet’s relationship. From doorknocker style earrings to hanging-out at ‘the Keys’, Ms. Seignious carried us from on exciting scene to the next. Painted by first-time kissing and cajoling against the landscape of songs in heavy rotation, the reader walks down memory lane. The jaunt is littered by an abundance of events that will keep the older
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IF IT AIN’T ONE THING, IT’S ANOTHER SHARRON DOYLE Street lights are shining on Sharron Doyleís coming home novel If It Ain It One Thing Its Another (Augustus Publishing, Dec. 2005). Ms. Doyle offers a gripping and enthralling saga and also opens reader is eyes to a method of entry for a disease that is crippling our young Black population. At the time ofthis printing, African American females lead all people at 35%. AIDS is attaking every corner of the hood, and when traveling one should always exercise caution. And that is only half the story. The other side is how overwhelming reality is when it strikes. Ms. Doyle stays true to her Harlem roots and delivers a real shocking look in her debut novel. Share the protagonistís agony in a searing, deep and a painfully distressing story. The author captivates the reader from the onset with a rich and vibrant storytelling voice. Doyle is powerful tale of lust and deception features revenge gone wild. More importantly, Ms. Doyleís debut focuses on how the AIDS epidemic is being spread in the hood and offers another reason why the aforementioned statistic is of dire importance to young Black women. The characters strengths and weaknesses are exposed and the realness is felt throughout the story. Ms Doyle manipulates her main character to show that no matter how screwed, twisted or chopped you become for any man is swinging, blinging or pimpín, you must be easy. Get to know him just a little better, especially if he is coming home from doing a stretch.
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The characters featured in the story, If It Ainít One Thing Itís Another, lay bodies and drugs out in the streets of uptown Harlem, all while jumping from bed to bed. Or, pardon the pun, ass to ass. The story is cleverly weaved between the exchanges of the characters and their body fluids. Pretty boy thug, Petie, trusts his boy, conniving Ladelle. Their partnership is shaken by Ladelleís confusion on whether or not he wants to end his run in the game. He feels like he wants out but Petieís self destructive ways draw him back in. There are consequences to be dealt with after an attempt is made on Petieís life. The resulting bloody violence is brutal but the pay off is well worth it. The appetite for sex which a seemingly intelligent woman, Share, harbors for the two timing street thug, Petie, matches his passion for destruction. This is an intriguing comparison. His every act intensifies his desire to self-destruct, while her sexual urges lead her down the deadly passage of her life. In If It Ain’t..., the author breaks down serious issues of choices in building a remarkable story. There is an explosive portrayal of a terrifying villain in Petieís arch nemesis, Khalif. The story begs the question: are we all products of the system? Given that we exist in a society where going to the penitentiary is very real for the Black man, then we all know someone whoís been there or done that. Sharron Doyle takes us one step further by posing a less discussed topic: What if your babyís father or ex infected you with the virus and y’all went yourseparate ways? You don’t know you’re infected and you’re ready to move on from the relationship. The moral issue is whether or not your ex informs you of his situational homo lifestyle. Or is it just a case of what happens in the jailhouse, stays there. Although her decision to get out of a nowhere relationship is a sound one, Shareís motivation is questionable. Amidst the violence of an attempted hit and the resultant gunplay, the plot unfolds in a way that is not only tantamount to the survival of the fictional characters but for an entire race. This lesson should not be lost on anyone. It is another reason that that this novel is an important read for everyone in the community. Not only are the situations jolting but the characters reactions are equally revolting and real. Your confidence may be shaken when you read If It Ainít One Thing Itís Another. It’s aptly titled reality-based fiction which is chillingly real and educating. Casualties are aboundl, but do not miss the point of all the mayhem: KRS1 said it best: You must learn˘...
GADGETS &GIZMOS We’ve got everything you want but never need right here.
Toshiba Gigabeat S MES 30VW ($300) What beats landscape video playback, crisp audio and Xbox 360 compatibility in the Mp3 Player world? Nothing, that’s what!
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The number of choices for smart phones is over-
Cop an Xbox360 for a wider selection of games, or a
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Nintendo Wii if you’re really budget-conscious.
with dependable WiFi connectivity, is easy to hold and has impressive sound quality.
Nintendo DS Lite ($129)
24 Time Zone Barrel Desk Clock
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This thing’s simple as pie; just rotate it and the
has, but it’s very affordable, has WiFi-enabled game-
clock will reflect that time
play and is backwards compatible with most Gameboy Advance.
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FROM BEHIND BARS
BY JAMES HENDIRCKS
My government is C. Hendricks. I am known as Bay Bay and was raised in the small city of Gary, Indiana. Famous for being the hometown of Michael Jackson and his family, the place got slept on. Gary is not a tourist attraction, it’s more what you see on The Corner - straight slums. In 2003 Gary was rated as the worst city to live in the US, but growing up there was both dangerous and fun. It takes a village to raise a child and every adult brought me up in my huge family. My aunts, uncles and grandparents all had their chance to care for and influence me. I am a classic example of the saying that “preacher’s kids are the worst.” My father, I didn’t know him too well, is a minister and retired fireman. I have only spent a week with him through thirty years of breathing. My mom, Ernestine Caster Morris and me were best friends and we kept it on the low. She had me when she was 15. I was her only child and when we lived together she held me down and I tried to hold her down in return. She was the strongest woman in the world. Surviving five shots from her jealous husband and waking up from a coma with diabetes never slowed my mother. It was at this point in our lives that the beef started between us. I was only seven years old and bounced from nightclubs to bars to pool halls. My mother was young and beautiful. I made it my duty to be protective of her. Picture a seven-year-old boy telling grown men to ‘beat it!’ Not that I had to protect her because my mother could be a beast with her hands. My mother had more hustles and schemes than I ever knew existed. As a result I started hustling and scheming at a very young age. Stealing candies, GI Joes or whatever kids were into at the time. I played ball with the big boys, played cards or shot dice for lunch money. I was trying to be paid. It got out of hand and before long I was skipping school, hanging out and smoking weed. My mother didn’t understand and sent me to see a shrink. I was only eight years old so going though therapy fucked me up even more. Seeking a way out of my mother’s controlling ways, I joined the Conservative Vice Lords at 12 years. At the age of 13 my grandparents had full custody of me. Frank and Estelle Caster, my grandparents, spoiled me to the best of their ability. I had unlimited access to the streets and as a youngster with little or no structure, hoorah, I took gang banging to the next level. I was 13 and the wildest of the crew. This gave me mad respect in my circles. We would bang in the parks like they did in the movie, The Outsiders. I was repping my hood against students from the school I attended. Since I was the only one from the hood that attended school out the hood, I had to keep the gun on me except when I went to swimming class. Still it could
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LET ME KNOW
SUMP’N! have been worse. I could have gone to school with my peeps and caught a body in the ninth grade with my man. My generation definitely changed the streets of Gary, Indiana. I was on my way to becoming the youngest Chief in my organization’s history but got derailed on the way. Living in the wild abandonment of ignorance, banging, slinging, women and shootouts seemed like fun back then. All the peeps who used to say things like “He the devil” and “He ain’t gonna live past 18”, I’ve got news for you; I am Muslim and 30. Despite dropping out of school in the 9th grade and being involved in the system since I was thirteen, I believed in myself. In ’92 I received my GED and an Associated Degree from Ball State University in ’98. It was when I took a break from school that drama from my past caught up to me. Now the feds have me in custody. In the past they had no success in two attempts to indict me. Sitting here in the United States Penitentiary I can’t get into specifics because the feds are petty. There are a lot of things that pushed me into the writing field. I remember being twenty-one and a tutor in prison. The person I tutored was a wiz at getting grants for the system. She would type proposals and ask me and another tutor to proofread for her. She always encouraged me to write a book. Back then I laughed it off without a second thought. Then I arrived in Virginia and a former roommate, Terrence Stokely, was writing a book. He would always ask me to spell certain words he had problems with. I got in trouble and was sent to confinement. Isolated I read a couple Hip-Hop fiction books and was inspired to write one. My mother’s passing left me devastated. A stepson and three bad boys along with my beautiful wife provide the inspiration I need. My boys heard the stories about me and started to emulate my early teen behavior. Through my writings I can show them a better way. I write about the two things I know about: the streets and the penitentiary. The drama is from the city I grew up in. Now I can see it is a two-way street. When DC relinquished the title of Murder Capital it was passed on to Gary, Indiana. My hood is real, the peoples are real and I’m trying to make sense of all the violence.
We at SLR owe props to the writers that made leaps and bounds in every area of the Black experience, from trials and tribulation during the Civil Rights movement to gripping tales of street hustling to prison life. Try your knowledge, luck, memory, or research skills with the following questions on the pioneers of the street literature. We’ll send the first 100 winners an autographed novel from one of Street Lit’s top authors. 1. Who is Mama Black Widow’s protagonist/main character? A. Railhead B. Dorcas C. Mama D. Otis 2. Where is the main character from? A. Chicago, IL B. New Orleans, LA C. Brooklyn, NY D. Sacramento, CA 3. Where was Charles Perry educated? A. Yale B. SUNY C. Princeton University D. Georgia Tech
A. a cannibalistic serial killer B. a cold-hearted lesbian C. a former Panther D. a Vietnam veteran 8. Who takes over the Blakes home in Henry Van Dyke’s The Dead Piano? A. terrorists B. young thieves C. Black militants D. a murderer on the run 9. Author Herbert Simmons served for which branch of the military?
4. In Man Walking On Egg Shells, what instrument does Raymond play?
A. Army B. Navy C. Marines D. Air Force
A. guitar B. saxaphone C. piano D. bass
12. When was the original name of the Chester Hime‚s „Yesterday Will Make You Cry?? (Cast The First Stone)
5. What was Clarence Cooper, Jr.’s final novel?
A. Man Walking on Egg Shells B. Cast The First Stone C. Street Players D. Airtight Willie & Me
A. The Scene B. Weed C. The Farm D. Black! 6. How many novels did Clarence Cooper have published?
James (Bay Bay) Hendricks is the author of the sizzling upcoming novel: A Good Day To Die.
7. In Robert Deane Pharr‚s, "Giveadamn Brown," which of the following describes one of Giveadamn’s competitors/rivals?
A.3 B.7 C.6 D.4
13. Which of the following is a character in Iceberg Slim‚s „Doom Fox?? (Pretty Melvin) A. Sweetpea B. Hung Hank C. Sexy Shawnna D. Pretty Melvin
Send answers to: Street Literature Review 33 Indian Road, Suite 3k New York, NY 10034 volume one // 2006
SO YOU GOT JOKES? So your friends think you’re the new Chris Rock, huh? Your ol’ lady swears you’re a laugh-a-minute? Katt William’s ain’t got nothin’ on you? Why not flex your comedic muscle in this section right here? The funniest joke gets Free Books. Just keep the profanity to yourself. Insults At a bar, one patron said to another, “Excuse me. You owe me a drink.” She asked, “Why” He replied, “You’re so ugly that I dropped my drink when I saw you.” Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Men/Women
Q: How does a man show that he’s planning for the future? A: he buys two cases of beer. Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Drinking There was a little guy sitting at a bar, minding his own business when this big dude comes over and knocks him off the bar stool to the floor. He says, “That was a karate chop form Korea.” The little guy said, “Geez,” and got back on his stool and drank his beer. The big guy knocked him down again and said, “That was a judo Chop form Japan.” The little guy got fed up and calmly left, returning an hour later. He walks up behind the big guy and whacks him, knocking him out cold. He looked at the Bartender and says, “When he wakes up, tell Him that’s a crowbar from Sears.” Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Judge A lawyer was cross-examining a witness. “Isn’t it true,” he said, “that you were paid $5000 to throw this case?” The witness didn’t respond. Instead, he just stared out of the window. The attorney repeated himself, only to draw the same reaction. Finally, the judge said to the witness, “Please answer the question.” “Oh,” said the startled witness, “I thought he was talking to you.” Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
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BABY volume one // 2006
Book Game 101:
Crafting A Classic When you think of street novels, specifically classics, three titles immediately come to mind: The Coldest Winter Ever, True to the Game and B-more Careful. Any real reader would agree with me on that one. It’s a no brainer. (And I’m not tootin’ my own horn either. It iz whut it iz!) With that said, I think that qualifies me to speak on the subject. Well in case you don’t know, my name is Shannon Holmes, author of B-more Careful. My first novel was considered a classic by many standards. First, B-more Careful was beloved by other authors and fans alike. Secondly, from an industry standpoint, it did tremendous numbers. Considering only six percent of all books sell over 50,000 units in there lifetime, B-more Careful sold over 100,000 copies in its first year alone. Sales of the book are rapidly approaching 500,000 to date. (Can you imagine what my royalty checks must look like?) As you may or may not know, unlike record sales, book sales get stronger as the years go by. I must admit, it is possible to craft a classic novel and that novel not do well from a financial standpoint. Sometimes when things like this happen, it’s all the author’s fault. Many authors, especially self published ones, forget what this game all about: hustle. You gotta be out in those streets going hand to hand, pitching ya product to the
public. After all who’s gonna push your book harder than you? On the other hand, sometimes things like this happen due to reasons beyond the author’s control, like lack of marketing or the book not finding its target market. Case in point: The Adventures of Ghetto Sam/ The Glory of My Demise by Kwame Teague. Besides story content, a lot of things go into crafting a classic. Off the top of my dome, I’ll name four elements that make up a good book: conflict, struggle, drama and change (in no particular order). If you’ve read B-more Careful or better yet studied it, you’ll see all these elements are between those pages. In B-more Careful, the major conflict in the book was Netta versus Mimi or Netta versus Black or Black versus New Yorkers. I could go on and on but the point is there was lots of conflict in the book. When I wrote each major character’s back story, I showed the struggle that he/she endured throughout his/her life to get to the point they are at. (Usually their rise out of poverty, i.e. Black’s journey to kingpin status in the streets.) The element of drama was everywhere in the book. There was friction between Netta and Mimi, Netta and Black, dissention amongst the ‘Pussy Pound’, war in the streets between B-more hustlers and
LAST STOP the book shelves and I see about thirty titles, with new ones arriving each day. So it isn’t good enough just to be good any more. A lot of writers are good, if they weren’t they wouldn’t be in the game. Nowadays, you have to put ya best foot forward, craft a classic so you can distinguish yourself from the rest of the writers. It’s the only way your ever gonna see any money. That’s called establishing your fan base. I’m a bankable commodity, majors know that Shannon Holmes will sell x-amount of books. That’s why they continue to give me six figure advances.
New York hustlers, gold diggers chasing hustlers. In other words, there was drama for days in that book. Now we’ve come to my favorite part of any good book: change. Bringing your character to that crossroad in his or her life, and wondering will they or won’t they change? They say change is inevitable, that the only thing consistent in life is change. I say change is a beautiful thing. In a novel it shows growth in your characters. In B-more Careful, Netta changed only after she was viciously beaten by Black in the telly. After making a living out of being scandalous all her life, even Netta realized she had to change her ways.
Before I go, there’s just one more thing that I gotta get off my chest. Alotta new authors with one book under their belts, fresh in the game, look at someone else’s success, i.e. SHANNON HOLMES, and think that they’re entitled to what I got. Dig this here: We might have similar backgrounds, we may have similar writing styles, we might have similar subject matters but Dogs you not me! I gotta fan base that’s already been established and expanding everyday. I realized that the pen is mightier than the sword a long time ago. I realized long ago the power of words: words hurt, words heal, words start wars.
With all of thee above taken into consideration, at the end of the day you must have a hot product. If the consumer buys your book and can’t in turn recommend it to a friend, associate or stranger, then your book will be dead in th water. Every business man knows that a huge percentage of his business will come from one of two sources or both: word of mouth and repeat customers. If your readers aren’t satisfied with your work, then the nine times out of ten, they will not buy your next book. All the gimmicks like two books for ten won’t make ‘em buy it either.
With that said, I don’t write my novels with the intent to glorify the ‘street-life’. With my words, my novels, I try to dissuade young people from the streets. So you’ll never see happily-ever-after endings in my books. I’m conscious of the type of message I’m sending out. So fa real, fa real, ya’ll not like me, Y’all happy- writing, y’all fantasy fables. I’m writing history over here. When it’s all said and done, my footprints will be recorded in the sands of life. In parting, my advice to you is: Be true to who you are and what you are. You’ll never see Shannon Holmes writing a Romance novel or a Sci-fi novel. Why? Because I know my limitations and strengths! I’m no follower. I’ll never crossover, to sell books. Shannon Holmes will always stay in his lane. Shannon Holmes will keep hitting you with those street tales. The street is something I know about, not something I heard about. With that, I leave you as I come: In peace!
They say we only read for two reasons: education or entertainment. When I was writing B-more Careful, I went back and re-read all the books I knew that were good, all the books that moved me. Instead of looking at what the characters were doing, I looked at what the author was doing and how he or she did it. There are a few other underlying factors that go into crafting a classic, like pace, plot, subplot and setting. When I read a lot of these new authors work (I’m a reader and a fan too), I see that they are lacking in these areas. I can’t get a feel or a visual of the book or characters. And as a reader, that’s bad. I ain’t gonna sit here and pretend that I’m perfect, like I got everything all figured out but I am the highest paid street author, first to sign with a major publish house (I ain’t gonna count Sister Souljah cause she achieved fame elsewhere), first street author to go hard cover, first street author to start a publishing company, etc. I don’t have a job, I eat off my novels. I got signed while still in prison. I don’t have a high school diploma (got a GED in prison). I’m at the top of my class in a college graduate-dominated profession. I said all that to say this, I know a little sumthin’.
In the literary world, I’ve seen writers come and go, publishing houses open and fold. I’ve heard all the dark predictions about me too: “ ‘he’s unprofessional,’” or, “‘ he’s not gonna last long. He’s a one hit wonder. Guess what? I’m still here! Five years deep into my literary career! My contracts and contacts getting bigger and better. Anyway, while I’m still reminiscing on the past, I could remember when there was literally a handful of street novels out. Now I look on
volume one // 2006
UNCF helps thousands of deserving students. But we have to turn away thousands more. So please give to the United Negro College Fund. Your donation will make a difference. Visit uncf.org or call 1-800-332-8623. Volume 2
Published on Nov 21, 2008
Street Literature Review (SLR) Magazine is the definitive voice of an emerging genre in the book world: Hip Hop literature commonly known as...