Artist: TouréTitle: Never Drank The Kool-Aid (Book)Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Sidik Fofana
Touré has a nice gig. An esteemed journalist for Rolling Stone magazine, The New Yorker and a slew of other highly reputable publications, former host of MTV Spoke n Heard, and current BET correspondent, Touré makes a living out of deconstructing Hip-Hop culture personalities including the likes of 50 Cent, Tupac Shakur, and Eminem. In this book of essays and previously published articles entitled Never Drank the Kool-Aid (Picador), he alerts us that often rappers and singers that we think we know, act differently when they are away from the public eye. These celebrities project a certain image of themselves to the media and rejoice happily when their fans faithfully accept it. So for a lot of them, an endless row of fans is just an endless row of mirrors. Thats why when it comes to certain personas that float around on newspapers, television screens, and in cyberspace, Touré never takes the bait or more aptly, never sips the Kool-Aid.
See, DMX would never tell you that he calls his baby-mama six times a day just to whisper sweet nothings to her. Prince would never, ever tell you that when he is not tickling his guitar, he is out whipping ass on the basketball court. Dangelo would never, never, ever tell you that even at the height of his reign as a fetishized Black male, he had more insecurity problems than a bulimic cheerleader. Touré presents these artists at their realest and supplements this candid reality with poignant insight. The pages are soaked with witticisms that are equally matched with keen analyses on Black music.
In his essay “Best Rapper Alive”, Touré makes the distinction between a rapper and an MC. Anyone who succeeds mainly through raw ability is an MC, he writes, Those who make the show be their lives and their lives be the showthey are rappers. He drives the point home, when he goes beyond the world of Hip-Hop, and explains who in American society can be classified in what category, Dennis Rodman is a rapper. Scottie Pippen an MC. Tyson, rapper. Holyfield, MC
Never Drank the Kool-Aid is a fine document from a gifted writer who has earned his stripes in the world of journalism. The man has been doing his thing since 1992. He has written in-depth pieces on Jay-Z, interviewed Biggie Smalls one-on-one, and was at Jay Master Jays funeral. Like an accomplished journalist has merit to do, Touré has mastered the art of committed journalism well enough to break its rules. He often involves himself in his pieces, telling stories about playing tennis with Jennifer Capriati or the time Mary J. Blige cussed him out. It seems like some of the most rebellious Negroes are leading their revolt in print, and if this true Touré may very well be the Nat Turner of page turners.