From the Publisher
“Touré's an exceptional journalist. . . . He is--if you can imagine it--Oscar Wilde as a street thug. This is the marvelous tone he's been able to achieve.” Tom Wolfe, author of I Am Charlotte Simmons and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test
“Touré is one of our nation's most astute and witty observers of the American scene. Not only is he one of the most gifted writers of his generation, but his sharp insight, poetic phrasing, and biting humor--and his brilliant command of so many aspects of pop culture--make his dazzling performance on page a sheer joy to read. Never Drank the Kool-Aid is a Touré-de-force!” Michael Eric Dyson, author of Holler if You Hear Me and I May Not Get There with You
“Touré came to Rolling Stone as an intern in 1992. He was a lousy intern--we fired him--but a great writer and we soon hired him back. From 50 Cent to Dale Earnhardt, Jr., we sent Touré out on stories and he got it, whatever it was, every time. His work is like his subjects: stylish, vivid, and burning with energy.” Jann Wenner, founder of Rolling Stone magazine
In a varied collection of lucid, colorful pieces, journalist Toure, author of the novel Soul City and the story collection The Portable Promised Land, takes readers from the inner sanctum of Prince's Paisley Park to Jennifer Capriati's practice court, Lauryn Hill's Christmas party and beyond. Deftly organized by theme, the book comprises mainly magazine articles dating from 2005 to the mid-'90s, and its title refers to the author's insistence that he never bought into the philosophies of the people he profiled but rather aimed "to understand who they were beyond the image they want us to think they were." He succeeds with meteoric personalities, like Eminem and Al Sharpton, and with people like junior-tennis phenom and eventual professional bust Al Parker Jr. Toure has a knack for putting his subjects at ease, and he blends their intriguing candor with apt observations on the nature of their careers. He describes his own place in events without overshadowing the story itself. He's just interested in bringing us along for the ride, even if that means sitting shotgun while DMX pulls a full-speed 180 in a Cadillac Escalade on Sunset Boulevard. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Collected dispatches of the de Tocqueville of the Hip-Hop Nation. Journalist Toure's (Rolling Stone; the New Yorker) impassioned, insightful and stylish articles on hip-hop make up the bulk of these collected pieces, and their cumulative effect is staggering; Toure employs his sly voice, clear sense of mission and novelist's eye for the telling detail to elevate his profiles and interviews above conventional celebrity journalism, creating a political and personal manifesto that is provocative and deeply felt. As the author grapples with hip-hop's place in American culture and his own complicated responses to it, his subjects come to startling life: Embattled rapper 50 Cent's girlfriend proudly displays their young child's pint-sized, bullet-proof vest; genial MC DMX casually recalls the time he stabbed a first-grade classmate in the face; fearsome record exec Suge Knight decorates his offices with framed portraits of Lucille Ball and Elvis Presley; and soul diva Alicia Keys confesses her painfully conflicted reaction to post-9/11 patriotism. Fascinating bits of off-the-cuff sociology abound: The author compares rap collectives such as the Wu-Tang Clan and the Junior M.A.F.I.A. to traditional African family structures; the plight of the gay rapper is frankly addressed; graffiti artists play cat-and-mouse with authorities in the pursuit of their ephemeral art. To lighten the mood, Toure takes on Prince and Wynton Marsalis in one-on-one games of basketball, and the doyens have rarely come off so likable and human. Venturing beyond black popular music, Toure proves equally adept at limning compelling portraits of tennis players, race-car drivers and Ivy League counterfeiters. Toure includes asearing personal essay, What's Inside You, Brother? (tapped for The Best American Essays 1996), near the end of the book; it's a tour-de-force of punishing, articulate introspection that clarifies and deepens the searching tone of the preceding work. Like his subjects, Toure occasionally indulges in boastful self-mythologizing-the book's title is a testament to his incorruptibility, and a piece on his bad-boy sexual exploits seems ill-considered. Still, this is a wholly involving and piercingly intelligent examination of contemporary popular culture.