Artist: Book ReviewTitle: Respect The Jux (Book Review)Rating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Sidik Fofana
"When you party with crooks/You have to learn to respect the jux." This one endorsing couplet from 50 Cent on Lloyd Banks' single "Hands Up", has the streets buzzing about a hood pulitzer for the urban thriller, Respect the Jux (Keeplock Entertainment), penned by inmate turned author Yello. Though it's all dandy that the streets are reading something other than the psalms on the arms of their ni**as, Respect the Jux may just be a more literate way of enforcing stereotypes that have already so badly sullied Hip-Hop's reputation.
This choice is a hard one. On one hand, this tale about a young Jamaican immigrant named Cat who settles in New York and starts his own collective of trained robbers will have its readers fluffing up their foam pillows for a comfortable read. The novel has enough plot twists and sweat drenching moments to make the Law & Order: CSI cast look like a bunch of a teletubbies. Yet, on the other hand, the book's grammar isn't too sophisticated and it contains an overly nauseous amount of sex, drugs, and violence caked in the 200 page read.
Respect the Jux sends an irresponsible message to the Hip Hop world. The book is centered around Cat's group called "The Order", an enclave that plans the strategic robberies of high profile drug dealers and shady aristocrats. The Order study the daily routine of their targets and pounce at the most opportune time to rob them, hence the term, "jux", which describes the effort they put into detailing their target's activities. It is pretty obvious that the novel is partly based on the life of the author, Yello, as he is currently serving a bid for armed robbery. But, in this particular chronicle, Cat's criminal group is rarely caught and they end up pretty wealthy.
There are a few redeeming aspects of Respect the Jux. One, it is a story about brotherhood and loyalty. Cat's group is a fraternity with a code of ethics. Their actions are barbaric at times, but there is always a semi-honorable explanation to them. For instance, when one of the men commits a rare murder of a victim, Cat insists that each member of the group empty a shot into the dead body to ensure that every member suffers the blame. Also, every member gets an equal piece of a jux's loot even when not every member participates in the said heist. Finally, every member of The Order looks forward to the day that he can quit the craft of juxing and live a clean life away from crime. Still, these morals are ultimately lost in the crochet of the book's excessive violence and degradation.
Yello, who is enjoying offers from filming companies lusting to turn his work into a motion picture, is adamant that his book does not glorify violence. The fact is that it does. Respect the Jux is a case of the bad cowboys winning. Yellos emprisoned libido translates into aggressive and extra graphic sex scenes. Still, Respect the Jux is a book, and it is interesting, which means that people who normally don't read will give this book a chance. Even cats who know better might slide a peaking eye past their covering hand. Ultimately, the question is whether Respect the Jux is introducing Hip-Hop to the endless possibilities that breathe within the written word, or is the street fiction novel just another contribution to Hip-Hop's decline.
Respect The Jux is available for purchase at www.keeplockent.com