Book Notes: A Breakdown of the Latest Urban Reads


Reading is fundamental. We all learned that at some point in life. However, the world can be divided into two categories: those who read and those who don’t. Reading not only makes you smarter, it may just make you richer. According to the Summer Institute for Linguistics, people who are highly literate, active readers are more self-confident, have better coping skills, and better participate in civic affairs.  Further, they are able to amass greater wealth than those who don’t.

Fall is a great time to snuggle up with a great book. As the weather cools and people spend more time indoors, there are a number of great urban releases to entertain or educate. Check out a few releases below:

Power & Beauty: A Love Story of Life on the Streets

By Tip “T.I.” Harris with David Ritz

Rating: 6.5/10

Released in October of this year, T.I.’s first novel, Power and Beauty, is a strong first offering by the rapper. Written while he was incarcerated, the book allows the reader inside the mind of Power, a strong, determined student of life who has a lot of life challenges. When we meet Power (and his “sister,” Beauty) at age 16, his mother has just died and he moves in to be raised by her previous employer, a hustler named Slim. Power then embarks on a life of learning from hustlers across the country, a journey which is fascinating and enthralling. However, in order to get to that journey, the reader has to learn about and accept Power and Beauty’s strange relationship. They are being raised as brother and sister, but are not related, and they are also in love with each other. The somewhat incestuous plot point can make the book hard to follow and accept for its other finer points, like the interesting lessons and experiences that both Power and Beauty have. Power & Beauty: A Love Story of Life on the Streets is only the first of T.I.’s fiction efforts and is definitely worth the read.

Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness: What It Means to Be Black Now

By Toure’

Rating: 8/10

Toure’ is a writer, television host, cultural critic, and much more. However, with Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness, he establishes himself as a strong voice for redefining what it means to be Black in America at this time. The never-ending conversation about internalized racism in the Black community and the debate of the colorism (light versus dark skinned) is explored, but is thankfully not a central theme. Instead, Toure’ explores Blackness in a time where African-Americans have more money, degrees, and a President to represent them. The subject of Hip-Hop, a subject dear to the author’s heart, makes its first appearance early in the book and is revisited. With a foreword written by Michael Eric Dyson, Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness is an excellent exploration of Blackness and a great addition to your library. And, if you put it on your coffee table, you look smart.

Dirtier Than Ever

By Vickie Stringer

Rating: 6.5/10 stars

Triple Crown Publications and all of their offerings are guilty pleasures for the avid reader. While great non-fiction books are substantive and educational, TCP books are strictly entertainment. The founder and still author on the roster of Triple Crown Publications, Vickie Stringer returns with her grimiest female character, the reprehensible Red who never ceases to create drama and mayhem everywhere she goes.  Dirtier than Ever is the third in a series of book about Red, a female gangster who participates in every criminal activity under the sun. With Dirtier than Ever, Stringer delivers another gritty, steamy, and intense tale from the streets about a hustler in high heels.

You Are Not Alone: Michael, Through a Brother’s Eyes

By Jermaine Jackson

Rating: 6/10

With the guilty verdict now rendered in the involuntary manslaughter trial of Dr. Conrad Murray, there is some sense of closure to the sudden death of the King of Pop in 2009. In his book, You are Not Alone, Michael’s older brother, by four years, Jermaine gives us an extremely poignant look at his brother who we knew only as an iconic pop star. You are Not Alone talks about the early life of the Jacksons, their careers, and Michael’s development from childhood to superstardom. Jackson discusses his brother’s relationship with their father, denying that their father abused them but stating that Michael was “terrified” of Joe. While You are Not Alone: Michael, Through a Brother’s Eyes is not getting great reviews, due to the limited relationship that Jermaine had with Michael in his later years, it is a good read for any MJ fan.

The Tanning of America:  How Hip-Hop Created a Culture that Rewrote the Rules of the New Economy

By Steve Stoute

Rating: 9/10

Steve Stoute is has a well-known moniker in Hip-Hop, commonly mentioned and juxtaposed with Jay-Z, Diddy, and significantly, natural skin/hair care company, Carol’s Daughter. A marketing genius and former label head, Stoute adds author to his repertoire with his riveting new book, The Tanning of America. Destined to become required reading in college classes, The Tanning of America is reminiscent of excellent and compelling documentary, Hip-Hop Immortals: We Got Your Kids (2004), which also explored the subject of how Hip-Hop gained such an important role in the mainstream. The book reflects on the history of the Hip-Hop movement and its influence on the world and world culture. From what car you drive to what cereal you buy, somehow Hip-Hop has likely influenced it. Steve Stoute has written a cultural commentary, history book, and business text in one. The Tanning of America is a must-read for any true Hip-Hop aficionado.



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