Are street lit stories about sex or crime, or a combination of both? Do characters always use profane slang? Well, let’s see. A protagonist in Meesha Mink’s Real Wifeys: Get Money defends her involvement in a girl-on-girl fight like this: That big bitch stepped on my toe, and I told her Precious, Magilla Gorilla, Fat Albert, Al Roker, and Biggie-looking ass to get off my f*cking toe! To answer my own question, Mink’s brisk combination of insult, profanity, and pop culture is what street lit is all about.
Female authors dominate this month’s column with tales loaded with racy sex and backstabbing. These ladies give male thugs a run for their money.
Pick of the Month
Hilton, Erica. Wifey: From Mistress to Wifey. Melodrama Pub. 2011. 216p. ISBN 9781934157466. pap. $14.99. F
Nineteen-year-old Jasmine, who is messing with Shabazz, a minor player in Brooklyn’s drug game, needs cash. She posts her services as a $180-an-hour escort on Craigslist. Mia is wifey to Nico, the Ghetto Mafia crew leader who always carries a thick wad of $100 bills. Soon Jasmine sets her sights on seducing Nico, intent on becoming his wifey. The problem is Mia won’t go away easily. The pitched catfight of words and fists between Mia and Jasmine keeps pages turning. Readers will have a front row seat as each woman uses cell phones, iPads, and the Internet to smear reputations. Fed up with Mia’s harassment, Jasmine cuts loose. Bitch, you know where to find me. I’m right in the hood‚ 109th and Guy R. Brewer Boulevard‚ and if I wanted your man, believe me, I could have him. Wow.
Verdict Hilton’s (Dirty Money Honey, a best street lit title of 2011) vicious trash talk lifts her latest tale above the usual fare. The steamy sex scenes and stunning cliff-hanger will have readers clamoring for the upcoming sequel, Wife: I Am Wifey.
Chunichi. California Connection 3. Urban Bks. Dec. 2011. 200p. ISBN 9781601625045. pap. $14.95. F
There’s no California here since Calico, the link back to 2009′s California Connection 2, is not around. The focus instead is on pregnant Jewel, who is concerned whether Touch will be a decent father. The answer is no, as rogue is all over Virginia Beach sexing up Lisa. To get even, Jewel hooks up with Rico. Harassing cell phone calls and a creepy doll with a knife in its heart lend a Fatal Attraction feel to this story while scorned lovers Rico and Lisa stalk Jewel and Touch. Fed up with the mess and Touch’s backstabbing, Jewel decides, I ain’t no ride-or-die no more. It’s about taking care of myself. Hovering to move in on Jewel is Misty, a former cop hoping for a lesbian hookup.
Verdict Chunichi pumps up plenty of drama, but her story line is hampered by scenes lacking a logical flow. Still, this series has many fans. Buy accordingly.
K., Kim. Sheisty Chicks. Melodrama Pub. Dec. 2011. 248p. ISBN 9781934157473. pap. $14.99. F
The Mean Girls have nothing on the sheisty chicks living at Brooklyn’s Waverly Girls Group Home. Teens Maya, Cha-Cha, and Jazzy boost merchandise from local stores. Sixteen-year-old newcomer Ashanti clues them in on bigger heists of expensive clothes from Saks. To run their scams, the girls have to outmaneuver Big Momma, Waverly’s obese matron who plays lottery number 405 because that’s how much she weighs. Maya, Cha-Cha, and Jazzy start hating on Ashanti’s swagger and plan to teach her a lesson with GHB, the date rape drug. Urbandictionary.com defines sheisty as someone who is scandalous, stingy, two-faced, and sneaky. Yup. Add in vicious, and you have some real sheisty chicks.
Verdict This sisterhood doesn’t share traveling pants. The girls are all about revenge, with each page offering more shocking acts, including murder. Recommend this debut to readers who want their street lit with a side of nasty.
King, Aliya S. Diamond Life: A Novel. Touchstone: S. & S. Feb. 2012. 472p. ISBN 9781451625547. pap. $14.99. F
This sequel to Platinum features more behind-the-scenes drama (including sexual betrayal, physical abuse, cheating, alcoholism, and drug use) in the hip-hop world. Record label president Jake, in an alcoholic daze, is barely functional after his wife’s tragic death in a plane crash. Birdie has emerged from the underground rap scene to international fame, but his success comes with problems, especially from female groupies looking to sex up a celebrity. King also introduces Lily, who may rescue Jake but also guards her secret past.
Verdict The emotional damage suffered by King’s characters steers her novel away from the cinematic action of raw street lit. In addition, the numerous story lines extend King’s narrative to an intimidating length. Purchase if Platinum was popular.
Mink, Meesha. Real Wifeys: Get Money; An Urban Tale. Touchstone: S. & S. Jan. 2012. 256p. ISBN 9781451640823. pap. $14.99 F
This follow-up to Real Wifeys: On the Grind shifts focus to Harriet Luscious Jordan, who worked the pole with running mate Goldie. Luscious has fallen for New Jersey rapper Make$ and dreams of being his wifey, flush with luxury. Nope. She finds Make$ locked in sexual betrayal with‚Ä¶Goldie! Luscisous gets insanely mad and vows vengeance. She hates on Make$ when he tries to reconnect with her. I sent his ass straight to voice mail and wished I could send him straight to hell. That’s nothing. She dreams of killing Goldie while practicing on a shooting range. I envisioned Goldie’s face on the paper target and damn near snapped my wrist in two firing at the center of her forehead. Hell hath no fury, ya know?
Verdict Mink, a pseudonym for novelist Nioba Bryant, turns in another powerful story of women orbiting the hip-hop world. A subplot about child abuse is off the mark, but Luscious is both a villain and a heroine whom readers will embrace. Street lit fans already know about Mink’s Wifey series. Order in anticipation of high demand.
Santiago, Nisa. Bad Apple: The Baddest Chick. Melodrama Pub. 2011. 253p. ISBN 9781934157459. pap. $14.99. F
Seventeen-year-old twin sisters Apple and Kola live in Harlem and are exact opposites of each other. Their drunk mother sexes up her guy-of-the-moment, leaving the teenagers on their own. Believing sex is her way out of poverty, Kola boldly cruises strip clubs to snag women and men for her bisexual encounters. Apple is more straight-laced, until she decides she needs a ticket to Summer Jam at Giants Stadium. Short on cash, she sets up a $500 loan from local hustler Supreme. You know what they say about payback being a bitch? True enough, Supreme doesn’t care if he’s paid in cash or sexual favors. Apple’s failure to pay up leads to a stunning tragedy that results in the twins being sworn enemies. Their hatred will determine who’s the baddest chick.
Verdict Don’t let the title fool you into thinking this is a sexual story. Santiago’s writing takes readers into a grimy underworld where no sympathy is asked or given. The last page will leave readers gasping for Coca Kola, the sequel due out in March 2012.
Swinson, Kiki. New York‘s Finest. K.S. Pubs. 2011. 224p. ISBN 9780984529063. pap. $15. F
Naomi Foxx is one-third of a New York drug-trafficking operation. With her brother Reggie and cool dude Damian, they pull in $800,000 a week. Naomi uses her flight attendant job as a front to make connections to sex up South American drug lords. Living by the motto Get what you can while you can, this trio knows sooner or later someone will try to take over their operation. What they don’t know is the snitch’s identity. Marked by gruesome torture and murder scenes (and only one sexual escapade), this street lit novel is all action-thriller with an ending that will leave readers anticipating the second volume in Swinson’s trilogy, Internationally Known, scheduled for May 2012.
Verdict Misspelled words and grammatical errors are sprinkled throughout the finished copy, but that can be overlooked owing to Swinson’s brisk pacing and bold descriptions of traitor executions. Swinson’s name is instantly recognized in this genre; load up on copies.
Tremble, J. Bedroom Gangsta. Life Changing Bks. 2011. 238p. ISBN 9781934230282. pap. $15. F
Bryce Deans is either the most na√Øve guy in New Orleans or the luckiest. His ex-stripper wife named Seven (from the number of positions she performed on stage) wants him to bring in more money. But Bryce’s job as a mechanic pays zilch. The solution? Seven pimps his bedroom prowess into a one-man male escort service, and Bryce soon has women gasping in ecstasy. Sexy lawyer Angelique sums up his talent. He could escort me to different events, show me around, and then bang my brains out. Hell, sign me up right now. But our hero grows weary of the jealous drama and just wants to repair cars. Huh? Dude, you’re living the dream!
Verdict Tremble (Secrets of a Housewife) writes toe-curling erotic bedroom action and knows how to create sassy, trashing-talking girl-on-girl beat downs. A solid street erotica novel.
Street Lit Now Available as Ebooks
These Kensington street lit titles are now available to libraries through Overdrive’s platform.
- J., Anna. Hell’s Diva 2: Mecca’s Return. Urban Bks. 2007. 288p. eISBN 9781599832395. Kindle. $9.99.
- Skyy. Consequences. Urban Bks. 2007. 288p. eISBN 9781599832302. Kindle. $9.99.
- Styles, T. & others. Soft: Cocaine Love Stories. Urban Bks. 2011. 288p. eISBN e9781599832265. Kindle. $9.99.
- Williams, Brittani. Cover Girl. Urban Bks. 2007. 288p. eISBN 9781599832371. Kindle. $9.99.