The Word on Street Lit: Family Ties

Book Spine Poetry, Street Lit Style
A quick and easy promotional display is to stack books horizonally showing the spine titles. Then by selecting the right titles and reading the stack from top to bottom, a form of haiku results. So why not use some eye-opening street lit titles? Here are four examples to get you started.

Another…One Night Stand         (Kendall Banks)
Life After a Balla                         (Jackie D.)
Trust No Man                             (Ca$h)

Party Girl                                   (Pat Tucker)
Nude Awakening                       (Victor L. Martin)
Baby Momma                            (Ni’chelle Genovese)

Low Down and Dirty                  (Vickie M. Stringer)
Raunchy                                   (T. Styles)
Sheisty Chicks                         (Kim K.)

Dopefiend                                (Donald Goines)
Still Feenin’                              (Sereniti Hall)
White Lines                              (Tracy Brown)

From sisters who are sworn enemies in Nisa Santiago’s Checkmate to twin brothers connected by a strong bond despite different interests in in Tysha’s Young-Minded Hustler, family is a big  theme in this month’s selections. Blood is thicker, you know?

Pick of the Month
Swinson, Kiki & De’nesha Diamond. A Gangster and a Gentleman. Dafina: Kensington. Oct. 2012. 304p. ISBN 9780758251824. pap. $15. F
Two major street lit talents contribute novellas crackling with action and intrigue. Swinson’s (Wifey) “I Need a Gangster” involves a bold woman who leaves no man standing as she focuses on a cash payoff. Melody Goldman has a monthly allowance of five grand until arrogant hubby Richard walks out. A prenup states the only way Melody gets cash is if Richard meets an untimely death. Enter gangsta Scotty, all tatted up and flashing nice dimples and washboard abs. Melody sets her trap. “I kissed a little white napkin and left my lip prints on it. I stuffed it down the front of Scotty’s pants.” Is it hot in here, or is it Swinson’s writing? In Diamond’s (Street Divas) “Gentlemen Prefer Bullets” an opening shootout leaves eight-year-old Elijah Hardwick’s family dead. Flash forward 20 years, and Eli has become the bodyguard of a criminal named Mafia Don who orders him to Los Angeles to protect Blake, his estranged daughter, who’s been targeted for a hit. Action rolls fast and furious with gun battles, brutal brawls and furious getaways that pause just long enough for Elijah to get all hot over Blake’s bangin’ body and luscious D-cup breasts. Combining hot sex, romance, and dog-eat-dog bloody violence, this story flies at warp speed. VERDICT Loaded with street lit cred, this volume features plenty of fierce action and high body counts that will have your multiple copies flying off the shelf.

Harris, “T.I.” Tip & Donald Ritz. Trouble & Triumph: A Novel of Power and Beauty. Morrow. Sept. 2012.  336p. ISBN 9780062067685. $23.99. F
Grammy-winning hip-hop artist T.I. continues the saga of Paul “Power” Clay and Tanya “Beauty” Long in this sequel to 2011’s Power & Beauty. Now 22 and enjoying success in the fashion and music industries in New York, Tokyo, and Atlanta, the two are no longer together, but their current sexual relationships with other partners are more business arrangements than passion. Lingering in the shadows is businessman Slim Simmons, who is off his rocker and vows revenge on Power. A couple of hot sex scenes will tantalize readers, but clunky dialog slows down the action. And the novel’s prime focus is corporate backstabbing with murder as a handy tool for climbing the corporate ladder. VERDICT T.I’s name will sell this novel with little hand selling from librarians. Street lit staples of crime, betrayal, and sex are here, but Power and Beauty’s worlds revolve around unlimited wealth, not the inner-city poverty found in top urban fiction tales. Prepare for large demand.

Hines, Tia. That Girl is Poison. Urban Bks. 2012. 328p. ISBN 9781601625175. pap. $14.95. F
Desire Jones racks up a disturbing scorecard by her 13th year. She’s been raped, caught cases of crabs and syphilis, and found out she’s pregnant and HIV positive. This hood tale is much more than a little girl lost. Desire has been mentally and physically abused by her functionally insane Aunt Linda. Desire’s plan for revenge is to have sex with as many guys as possible to hand down the virus to “the young, dumb, and stupid.”  Readers will cringe at bizarre situations that Desire gets herself into. But her narrative has an oral history vibe that can be quite personable. “I had to do what I had to do, you know what I’m saying.” Still it’s hard to evoke sympathy for a girl determined to infect anyone who crosses her path. VERDICT Hines takes some time to hit her stride, stuffing too many details in the first 100 pages. But when Desire lands in juvenile detention, the story gets really grimy, bringing to mind X-rated women-in-prison movies where anything nasty can happen…and does. Warn patrons they may recoil in disgust, or embrace the nastiness. It’s their call.

Santiago, Nisa. Checkmate. Melodrama Pub. (The Baddest Chick) 2012. 266p. ISBN 9781934157510. pap. $14.99. F
Santiago’s latest title in her Baddest Chick series (after Bad Apple and Coca Kola) slams Kola and Apple, twins and Harlem rivals, with serious problems. Apple has been kidnapped and is now a prisoner in a Mexican whorehouse where she’s repeatedly gang-raped. Kola remains in Harlem dealing with her man’s betrayal. She sends her team of female assassins to take care of business, but bullets sprayed by semi-automatic rifles mess things up. Nothing comes in small doses from Santiago’s keyboard. Gang rapes, mass murder, and fabulous wealth amp up the stakes as Kola and Apple each struggle to survive in their own hell. VERDICT Santiago’s series has a solid following, but readers need to be familiar with the large cast of characters to appreciate this title. Don’t hesitate to purchase Checkmate and, while you’re at it, restock the first two titles and get ready for Guard the Throne, due out this October.

Tysha. Young-Minded Hustler. Urban Bks. Aug. 2012. 321p. ISBN 9781601625168. pap. $14.95. F
In poverty-stricken Youngstown, OH, Prince Jayden McGee and Jayden Prince McGee are identical twins but polar opposites. Jayden plays it straight, while Prince runs the streets. Their mother, Shy, is trying to move on with her life after the murder of her husband, a local street legend. Blocking the family’s way to prosperity is Prince’s friend Raequin and his mother, Cherise. Mother and son are all about envy and want to take over Prince’s turf. Keep your eye on Jayden, the all-state basketball player who doesn’t hesitate to defend his family. For a small city, Youngstown is a very dangerous place to be. VERDICT Excessive detail and overly complicated plot devices bog down Tysha’s (Boss) decent storyline. Still, flashes of hardened street lit come through, and the Youngstown setting will pull in regional interest.

Digital Street Lit
The following titles have recently be added to OverDrive’s platform and are available for download as digital e-books.

•    Ervin, Keisha & others. Girls From Da Hood 5. Urban Bks. 2012. eISBN 9781622860074.

•    Johnson, Brandi. In My Girls I Trust. Urban Bks. 2012. eISBN 9781622860289. $6.99.

•    Simone, Ni-Ni. No Boyz Allowed. Dafina: Kensington. Aug. 2012. eISBN

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