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Imani Holland has talent and hopes but no direction. Her father, who owns a struggling nightclub, sees Imani's future as a chance to fulfill his own failed dreams. Her boyfriend, Taz, is determined to become a mega-producer, with Imani's street rapping as his ticket to fame. But Professor Orenthal Hopson, who teaches in the music department of a historically black college, has his own ...
Imani Holland has talent and hopes but no direction. Her father, who owns a struggling nightclub, sees Imani's future as a chance to fulfill his own failed dreams. Her boyfriend, Taz, is determined to become a mega-producer, with Imani's street rapping as his ticket to fame. But Professor Orenthal Hopson, who teaches in the music department of a historically black college, has his own designs on her: He struck a bet with a colleague requiring him to transform Imani from a hip- hop hopeful into a traditional jazz singer.
Like a modern-day Eliza Doolittle, Imani finds herself caught up in a musical makeover that causes her to question who she really wants to become. As Professor Hopson begins to sweep her off her feet, she also has to decide whether to stand by Taz, the man she's cared about since childhood, or let herself fall for the dashing intellectual. Will fate be cruel or will it put her on a path to true love and the stardom she dreams of?
Author Biography: Yolanda Joe is the author of The Hatwearer's Lesson and the Essence bestsellers This Just In; Bebe's By Golly Wow; and He Say, She Say. A graduate of Yale University and of the Columbia University School of Journalism and a former news producer, she lives in Chicago.
Imani's voice was velvet on fire. Her brown skin was minted copper by the sun. For her, the world was music. For her, the lover was Taz.
She glanced at him now from the stage of the underground music club. One look and Imani swallowed her nervousness and began to dance on magic legs.
Taz matched each of her fantasy moves step for step. Rugged hips rolled inside his baggy jeans. The hands that stroked her neck and back beneath the sheets now swung on beat at his sides. Taz's dark and brooding eyes focused with a hint of light. Why? Because he was turned on by the sight of Imani performing his music.
"If the world loved me, I'd bring it to its knees ... Making it my niggah, doin' as I pleased ..."
Imani rapped his songs because Taz found unspeakable joy in beats and rhymes. She gave them voice, a voice that called out to their world.
Their world was right there, front and fabulous. Young men and women were jammed up against the stage. They let the grits meet the gravy, baby. They did their natural-born thing. Up against the wall. Up against other bodies. Up against theworld hating on them with a passion. But it didn't matter. Because no matter what, they were still glorious.
It was a freeze-frame I don't give a damn to the world. It meant, I'm getting my groove on whether you like it or not. Because at that very moment, a generation's story was being sermonized onstage; the words were etched in culture, commandments of lifestyle documenting what it is to be inner-city hip and hopeless, fearless and fine.
Imani was serious; blowtorching out her rap the way ministers preach fire and brimstone from the Bible. The hip-hop congregation was digging on her sermon. But in his head Taz heard the gospel according to his critics. They had surfaced to the big time while Taz struggled.
Yo-yo-yo Taz. Your girl got skills no doubt. Makes your rhymes sound better than they are. But you gotta get harder, dog, if you wanna make it out of here. Your sound is too wangsta-wanna-be gangsta.
Nothing can bring down a person's mood faster than the thought of a bunch of folks hating on their dream. Pleased with Imani's performance, but not the fact that she went on first, or the chump change the club owner paid, the couple got in Taz's beat-up car and rode over to Lover's Leap to unwind. Imani tried to tighten up Taz's unhinged spirits.
"Baby, we're gonna make it. Stop worrying, hear? I don't care what nobody else says, we're gonna make it."
Taz smiled. Then he drew Imani to him. Taz pressed his tight muscular body up against hers. He kissed her passionately before stopping to whisper in her ear, "I wanna be with you. I wanna give you every inch of my talent; every inch of my body until you scream for more. I'm gonna show everybody I got juice by making you a star."
Imani was saved by Taz's words and washed in his rugged aroma. He smelled like natural earth in bloom. The pressure of his thighs against hers, the wetness of his lips against her skin made Imani wish for endless love the way children wish on a falling star.
Imani was a dreamer and she wore her hopes like speckled jewels. Anyone who met her was nearly blinded by the potential she showed and wound up hoping that the young diva conquered the world. Imani's desire for success was engaging.
Taz's desire for success was different. He had been orphaned by parents who were old enough to feel love, but who were too young to be responsible. So Taz felt life owed him.
It was in the world of rap that he wanted to thrive, to find intimacy. Beats and rhymes were his brothers and sisters. A song was the family he never had. He was determined to show that he belonged. His talent was awesome, the talk of the neighborhood and all the buzz in the underground music scene. But somehow Taz kept missing the big time. And that made his desire for success grow furiously.
Almost as furiously as the mad craving he had for Imani's body. She was a woman of stature; her breasts were mountains majesty and her hips curved from shore to shore. Her soft body was Taz's cushion. Her gentle spirit was his comfort. He wanted to shape, mold, and make Imani his own.
Taz peeled back the flimsy straps of Imani's tank top. The loosened material slipped down the way clouds slip away from the setting sun. Taz kissed every place that beckoned to him and left no pleasure call unanswered.
"Yo, Taz? Imani? That y'all?"
They both turned towards the voice that had come from the driver's side.
"Go away!" Taz yelled. He knew damn well who "me" was.
The car door was yanked open. The man with all the nerve had a booming body that was big-like powdah. But all of his facial features were Gerber Baby. This was Taz's best friend, Biggie.
Imani quickly pulled up her top. Taz answered sarcastically. "Whatdaya think we're doing? She lost something and I'm helping her find it."
"Need a hand looking, brah?" Biggie teased. "All I find all I keep?"
Taz jumped up and smacked his head on top of the car door. "Ouch!"
Biggie roared with laughter. He sang teasingly, "Hey, E-mon-ie."
"Hey, Biggie," she growled. Imani slammed the door shut after Taz fumbled his way out of the car.
"Aww, come on, baby, don't be like that!" Taz groaned at her. He turned around and threw an elbow at Biggie's chest. "Niggah what!"
Biggie laughed, falling on the car trunk. "What's up, player?"
"Nothing now. Get your fat butt off my ride."
"I ain't thinking about this wreckmobile. I'm about business tonight. Here's the dealio. You've gotta do something about Maceo and the money he owes."
Taz grabbed Biggie's arm and pulled him away from the car. "C'mon, man, be cool. Imani doesn't know her father borrowed that money or that he messed it up gambling either."
"That's a problem, dog. Maceo has gotta come up with some cash or Mister Watson is gonna start tripping."
"Talk to him, Biggie."
"Like I haven't. That's all I've been doing is running my mouth on Maceo's behalf. That's the only reason he's been able to get by this long."
"You've been holding it down for him?"
"Oh yeah, without a doubt. But time is ticking, Taz. The loan sharking business ain't no church charity. That Jeep I'm driving didn't come from the Goodwill. Mr. Watson wants to see some of his money or no telling what he'll make me do."
"You? But you're my best friend, Biggie. You wouldn't hurt Maceo; he's been like a father to me."
"Hurting Maceo ain't in my heart, but be real. You vouched for him and I vouched for you. Mr. Watson likes Maceo from way back, says he showed him how to hold a hand of cards and his liquor too. But a man's pity for another man don't roll down like water. It falls in drops."
"Right. And I don't want us to be the ones crying for Maceo's ass."
"I feel you, Biggie."
"C'mon, Taz. Talk to him. You practically run the place for him. You make him pay the rent, bribe the liquor license man, pay all the insurance. He must have some money somewhere, don't he?"
"What about your girlie?"
"No! I just told you, Biggie; Imani ain't hip to none of this. And don't tell your big-mouth sister either. They're best friends and Shari can't hold water."
"Okay, relax. Let's split up. You go talk to Maceo. I'll go talk to Mr. Watson and stall for some more time. It's worth a shot."
Taz scratched his head then waved Biggie towards his Jeep. "Go ahead. I'll ride with you. You can drop me off first. I'll have Imani drive my car over to Shari's house and wait for me there."
"I know what you mean, Taz. A female can mess up a man's business in a heartbeat."
"Right. I don't want Imani nowhere around. You can drop me back over there later. I'll take her home then."
"I don't know, Taz. There's liable to be a whole lot of yacking behind this. What's Imani gonna say?"
Excerpted from My Fine Lady by Yolanda Joe Copyright © 2005 by Yolanda Joe. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted May 30, 2004
In the sixth book from Yale graduate and author Yolanda Joe, she introduces us to Imani, a twenty-something young woman in love with hip-hop and her childhood friend, Taz. Taz had been the poor neighborhood kid who gladly exchanged giving Imani piano lessons for an occasional meal at the request of Imani¿s father Maceo, a failed jazz musician. Having lost her mother, a wonderful singer in her own right, Imani is left with her memories of her and an unfinished song she left behind. Maceo would love for Imani to follow in her mother¿s footsteps but Imani would rather set her own course, rapping over tracks that her boyfriend has put together to cut a CD...................... While freestyle rhyming at the local black university, Imani meets Professor Hopson, an uptight but brilliant twenty-five year old professor of music. The meeting sparks a bet between Hopson and his boss, Chairman Perkins. Perkins wants Hopson to change Imani from a raw, hip-hop street girl to a classy, jazz vocalist. If Hopson wins, the chairman will enter Hopson¿s paper for the local grant competition. If he loses, his rival¿s paper will be entered.............................. Not only does Hopson school Imani in song but he also teaches her diction, ballroom dancing, and other forms of etiquette. As Hopson and Imani work closer and closer together, it is inevitable that they begin to fall for one another. After this occurs, Imani must choose between Hopson and Taz, hip-hop and jazz....................... ¿My Fine Lady¿ is a good read. While the plot of this Cinderella tale is not that original and the story is somewhat predictable, it is not difficult to fall head over heels with the author¿s style of writing. Nearly every chapter is introduced with exquisitely written, thought-provoking prose giving the book a unique and inviting style of its own. (¿Envy the sun that has horizons to brighten. Envy the bird that has wings to soar. Envy the lion that has the power to roar. But envy most the person who has the courage to seek change.¿) If you like romance sprinkled with a bit of urban flavor, then this book is definitely one not to miss.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 16, 2004
I just finish reading this book. It was good. I mean it didn't make me cry. It didn't make me wanna stop and tell everybody about it. This book really didn't reach me like other books. This is just my opinion.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 21, 2004
Yolanda Joe has another hit with her latest novel, MY FINE LADY. In the tradition of such literary and cinematic treasures such as Pygmalion and My Fair Lady, Joe presents the dilemma of transforming a young hip-hop artist into a refined jazz singer. For as long as she can remember, up and coming hip-hop artist, Imani's life has revolved around her love of music and satisfying the men in her life, her father Maceo, a floundering music producer turned club owner, and her boyfriend Taz, an upcoming music producer. Imani's life seems pretty straightforward until she has a chance encounter with music Professor Orenthal Hopson. Hopson sees much more in Imani than just hip-hop. He sees a rare natural talent, as well as way for him to prove his theory that music can alter ones personality. He makes a bet with his superior that he can transform the inner city hip-hop princess into a sophisticated jazz diva. Imani's sessions with the professor open up a whole new world for her, but she is conflicted as to how that will fit in with everything she thought she knew. She begins to question her relationships with Taz, Maceo, and her friends, as well as her budding feelings for Professor Hopson. Through it all Imani and all involved learn valuable lessons regarding being true to ones self, trust, and love. Yolanda Joe's clever words and colorful descriptions bring the story to life and made me visualize the characters and scenes. This story screams to be acted out on the big screen. MY FINE LADY is a wonderful well-written novel that aims to please with just a hint of suspense, a dash of romance, and a great story. Readincolor Reviewers ToyaWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.