K'wan (Hoodlum; Hood Rat) delivers a convoluted, overplotted and ultimately disappointing cautionary tale. Early on, the reader is introduced to Black Ice, the slick pimp; Don B., the rap entrepreneur and head of the Big Dawgz crew; True, Don B.'s hottest new rapper and protégé; Jah, the increasingly reluctant bodyguard; Jah's makeup artist girlfriend Yoshi; and Dena Jones, a local girl who falls into the wrong crowd. As True and the Big Dawgz crew prepare for a video shoot in Harlem, no one's aware that there's someone out to kill True. The video shoot sets up the rest of the novel's tragic events, including murders (there are a lot), a gang rape and manifold permutations of the mayhem caused by greed and deception. The novel's long on grit and violence, but readers will be put off by the scattershot structure, an unmanageably large cast and a consistently half-baked feel. (Nov.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Read an Excerpt
“Yo, this muthafucka is gonna be popping tonight!” Roxy said, louder than she needed to.
The midtown Manhattan block had started to resemble a parade more than a club line. Women pranced back and forth, scantily clothed, preying on the men who ogled them. Cars were bumper-to-bumper, either looking for near impossible parking or trying to holla at the chicks. It seemed like damn near everyone in the city had turned out for the event. It was going down and as usual Roxy and Sugar were on the scene.
Roxy and Sugar, or the Good Time Girls as they were called, were notorious for sniffing out a good time. From video shoots to parties, they had to be in attendance and dressed to the nines in fashionable hoochie wear, if there was such a thing. The performance at the nightclub was supposed to be the one to kick the summer off properly, so you know they were on set and planned to let everybody in the joint know it.
Roxy was the stallion of the duo. At five-nine, with long legs and enough breasts to smother a brother, Roxy could turn up the temperature of a room considerably. She wore pink fishnet stockings beneath her denim miniskirt, accented by a chain-link belt that hung just right over her full hips. Topside she rocked a cropped jacket to match the skirt over a pink T-shirt that read University of Good Pussy. Her weed-slanted eyes searched the crowd for someone she knew so she and Sugar could skip the line.
Sugar was the G of the crew, nice with her hands and no qualms about cutting you. Her compact but very well proportioned frame was stuffed into a leather cat suit, with stiletto-heeled boots that stopped just above the knee. Little did anyone other than Roxy and Sugar’s brother, who designed the boot, know, but the clear heels screwed off to be used like daggers in case of a problem. Sugar was the pretty-thug bitch that any cat would love to have riding for him. Separate, both girls were a handful, but together they were an accident waiting to happen.
“These hos ain’t got no sense of style,” Roxy said, eyeballing a girl wearing a knockoff Dior dress.
“Fuck the bitches; I’m trying to see what niggaz is out here. I’m trying to get my freak on tonight,” Sugar said, standing on her tiptoes to see over the crowd of people. “Yo, let’s walk to the front and see who’s at the door.”
“And lose our places in line?” Roxy folded her arms.
Sugar sucked her teeth. “Bitch, do you see how fucking long this line is? By the time we get in there the party will be over. Bring your silly ass on.” Sugar led the charge towards the front of the line. When she peeped who was watching the door a broad grin spread across her face. “Yo, ain’t that the nigga from Flatbush that always be pressing you?”
Roxy looked over at the six-five guardian and frowned. “Yeah, that’s his ugly ass. Every time I see him he trying to get me to slide. I ain’t fucking wit him.”
“Yo, why don’t you go holla at son so we can get up in here?” Sugar suggested.
“Hell nah. You know if I ask him for a favor he’s gonna be pressing me to leave with him later.”
“Fuck that, Roxy; we can always slip out on his ass in the crowd. Stop acting like that and go work that magic.” Sugar patted her playfully on the ass, drawing lustful looks from some of the guys watching.
“The shit I go through for your ass,” Roxy said, making her way towards the bouncer. When he turned and saw her his eyes immediately lit up.
“Baby girl, what’s the deal?” The hulk smiled, opening his arms for a hug. Roxy reluctantly let him embrace her. He smelled like cigarettes and liquor, which made her wanna gag, but she held it down for the greater good.
“What’s happening, Big Daddy?” She ignored his hand brushing against her ass. “I ain’t seen you around in a minute.”
“A nigga trying to get a dollar.” He nodded at the club. “I got my management thing popping during the day and I do this at night to stay in the loop, ya know?”
“I know that’s right, and don’t forget the little people when you blow up,” she said, stroking his ego.
“Never that, ma. You know you’ll always have a special place in my heart, even if you ain’t got no love for me.”
“You know it ain’t like that. I just be on the move,” Roxy said, acting like she didn’t notice the two cats standing off to the side trying to take pictures of her ass with their camera phones.
“I be trying to tell you to fuck with a nigga, but you act like you don’t hear me, shorty. Ma, I could get you on some album covers and make you that bitch on the video scene. Let me get ya number and imma take you to breakfast or something so we can chop it up.” He looked at Roxy for an answer and she desperately searched her brain for an excuse. Fortunately she didn’t have to.
A 1971 Lincoln Mark 3 eased down the block doing about five miles per hour. The car was the color of a Hershey’s Kiss, trimmed in gold. The back of the car dipped so low that it almost touched the ground as it coasted to a stop on gold wire rims. Smoke billowed from inside the passenger side door when a man who stood a hair over five feet stepped out and walked around to the driver’s side. He tugged at his jacket and gave a quick look around before opening the driver’s side door. When the driver stepped out the whole block openly stared. The Ice Man was officially on the scene.
Black Ice seemed to almost uncoil, stepping out of the car and onto the street. The coal black young man was dressed in a blood red suit, with a black silk shirt beneath it. A heavy cross decorated with red and black diamonds hung around his thin neck, clanging slightly when he moved. Ice made sure to pop the sleeves on the double breasted jacket so that the onlookers could get a taste of his wrist game. If you looked closely into the iced-out frame of the watch you could see that the hands were designed to look like a woman spreading her legs. The two heavy red diamonds in his ears were overkill, but Ice was known for being over the top. It came with the job.
Extending a manicured hand, Black Ice proceeded to help the first of his tenders from the rear of the car. A peach-colored chick who wore a short, feathered wig oozed out of the vehicle and stood next to her man. Though you could just about see her ass cheeks under the short red dress, she made no attempt to pull it down. The next girl was a white broad who had to be damn near six feet tall, with fire-engine-red hair. She had lips like Julia Robert’s and fierce green eyes. Her breasts looked like steroid-pumped cantaloupes, fighting to escape from the black leather dress that hugged her frame. Taking a lady on each arm, Black Ice strutted towards the front of the club.
“You just gonna leave that pretty muthafucka right there and tease the rest of us working stiffs, huh?” the bouncer asked with a half smile.
Black Ice looked back at the car as if he was just remembering it was double-parked. “It ain’t gonna be there but a minute. What’s popping, Daddy-O?” He slapped the bouncer’s palm, leaving a hundred dollar bill in it.
“You, as usual.” The bouncer stuffed the bill into his pocket. “What’s good, Shorty?” he addressed Ice’s partner. It wasn’t a slight towards his height; Shorty was actually his name.
“Ho money,” Shorty said good-naturedly.
“I know that’s right,” the bouncer agreed, as if he had a clue. Unclamping the velvet rope, he nodded for Black Ice and his crew to enter.
“Ice cold!” someone shouted from the line, drawing a nod from the Ice Man.
As Black Ice passed a starstruck Roxy he stopped and gave her the once over. Leaning in close enough that his diamond-filled chain brushed her chest, he whispered, “You got a million in cash between yo legs shorty, let a nigga help you make your money grow.” Without waiting for a response, he disappeared inside the club.
“You don’t want none of that poison, ma,” the bouncer said, not really feeling the attention she was giving Black Ice.
“Nigga, please. I wasn’t stunting homey like that,” she lied. “So, what’s up boo? Can me and my girl get a look out on this line situation?” she asked, cutting to the chase.
“One hand washes the other and two wash the face, ma,” the bouncer said in an almost sinister tone. “Will I see you later?”
“You know I got time for you, Daddy.” She patted his cheek.
“That’s a bet.” He lifted the rope for Roxy and Sugar to pass through. There were angry mumbles from the people who had been waiting on the line, but the girls paid them no mind. Once they were inside the club Sugar asked the sixty-four-thousand-dollar question.
“Who was son with all the shine?”
not much could be heard over the roar of the crowd. Exit was packed with partygoers and they were all screaming for blood, Bad Blood. For those who don’t know, Bad Blood was an up-and-coming rap group discovered by rap superstar Don B. They were supposed to be the rebirth of Harlem-based hip-hop, but alas, the streets weren’t ready to let them go. One third of the group had been murdered over drug money and two more members had been dropped from Big Dawg Entertainment, leaving only one.
The front man, and one of the last surviving members of the group, paced the stage looking out at the crowd. A white gold chain with an iced-out rottweiler head, which was the logo for their team, swung freely from his neck. The overhead lights bounced off the piece, making the diamonds look like a rainbow. Dark blue Red Monkey jeans hung slightly off his ass, making him walk sort of like a penguin as he moved across the stage.
He had just finished performing the group’s single, “Slap Yaself,” which had rocked the streets the previous summer, assisted by a hype man. Just thinking of his fallen comrades had suddenly made him very emotional. True waved to get the DJ’s attention and signaled for him to shut the music off. At the abrupt stop of the music there was some grumbling and a few choice insults, but for the most part all eyes turned to him for an explanation.
“What’s hood?” True said into the microphone. The crowd roared as if he had said something noteworthy. He swayed for a minute as if he was drunk, then walked from one end of the stage to the other. “Yo, if y’all fucking wit Bad Blood, let me see you throw ya fucking Bs in the air!” In a massive wave the crowd started touching their thumb and index fingers together to form the letter B. “Now, if I may quote one of the greatest rappers ever . . . this is strictly for my niggaz!”
The DJ switched the beat and he went into an unreleased track from True’s album called Blood of My Blood. It was a song he had written and dedicated to the memory of his crew. Shouts of “Bad Blood for life” and “Rest in peace, Pain and Lex” came from the now-emotional crowd.
Sweat trickled down his face and onto his once-crisp white T-shirt. Careful not to get the damp shirt tangled in his chain, he pulled it over his head and exposed his chiseled stomach. When he tossed the sweaty shirt into the crowd they went crazy. The bouncers had to separate two girls who had gotten into a fist fight over the sweaty garment. Just like Don B had told him, he was a natural star.
“Yo, that nigga is killing it!” Sugar shouted over the music. She was swaying to the beat, sipping on a glass of Hennessey.
“That lil muthafucka can get it!” Roxy said, damn near drooling over True.
“Bitch he don’t want that raggedy ass pussy,” Sugar teased her.
Roxy looked at her like she was crazy. “Ain’t a nigga alive that can resist a shot of this.” She slapped herself on the ass. Roxy was about to tell Sugar about herself before she was caught up in True, onstage, stripping. “Girl, he about to throw his shirt! I can get a grip for that muthafucka on eBay,” Roxy said, bumping her way through the crowd.
“Girl, you better not!” Sugar shouted, but it was too late. Roxy had made her way into the crowd and was elbow-to-elbow with four or five other females anticipating the shirt.
As soon as the shirt left True’s hand all hell broke loose. A girl built like an SUV laid two chicks out with sharply thrown elbows before they even had a chance to reach for it. Roxy went up for the shirt like Dennis Rodman going for a rebound. She managed to snare the neck, while the big girl caught it at the bottom. For a minute the two girls sized each other up, each wondering what the other was going to do. The girl flexed, but before she could throw a punch, Roxy had laced her twice. The blows seemed to only enrage the big girl, and she charged Roxy. Before she could connect, security had rushed to the spot. Two bouncers restrained her while another one dragged a kicking and screaming Roxy towards the exit. Sugar lowered her head in embarrassment and slipped quietly out behind them.
Copyright © 2007 by K’wan Foye. All rights reserved.