Finalist for the 2012 NAACP Image Award in Literature!
"George is an ace at interlacing the real dramas of the world...the book's slim length and flyweight depth could make it an artifact of this particular zeitgeist in American history. Playas and haters and celebrity cameos fuel a novel that is wickedly entertaining while being frozen in time."
"This hard-boiled tale is jazzed up with authentic street slang and name-dropping (Biggie, Mary J. Blige, Lil Wayne, and Chuck D)...George's tightly packaged mystery pivots on a believable conspiracy...and his street cred shines in his descriptions of Harlem and Brownsville's mean streets."
"George is a well-known, respected hip-hop chronicler...Now he adds crime fiction to his resume with a carefully plotted crime novel peopled by believable characters and real-life hip-hop personalities."
"George's prose sparkles with an effortless humanity, bringing his characters to life in a way that seems true and beautiful. The story--and the conspiracy behind it--is one we all need to hear as consumers and creators in the post-hardcore hip-hop world."
"Part procedural murder mystery, part conspiracy-theory manifesto, Nelson George's The Plot Against Hip Hop reads like the PTSD fever dream of a renegade who's done several tours of duty in the trenches...Plot's combination of record-biz knowledge and ghetto fabulosity could have been written only by venerable music journalist Nelson George, who knows his hip-hop history...The writing is as New York as 'Empire State of Mind,' and D is a detective compelling enough to anchor a series."
--Time Out New York
"A breakbeat detective story...George invents as much as he curates, as outlandish conspiracy theories clash with real-life figures. But what makes the book such a fascinating read is its simultaneous strict adherence to hip-hop's archetypes and tropes while candidly acknowledging the absurdity of the music's current big-business era. There's a late-capitalism logic at work here. If this book had been written in the early '90s, it would have been about the insurgent artistry of hip-hop musicians and the social-justice strides the genre was effecting. Today, it's a procedural about the death of principles."
--Time Out Chicago
"Like good hip hop, there is social commentary and a blurring of the lines between great storytelling and all-to-real happenings. The Plot Against Hip Hop reads almost like Thomas Pynchon's Inherent Vice, but in the world of rap music. Brilliant prose, vast conspiracy, (at times) borderline trippy narrative. If you love crime fiction and you love hip hop, this book is a must read."
"The Plot Against Hip Hop is a quick-moving murder mystery that educates its audience on Hip Hop's pioneer generation along the way...it is a nostalgic look at a magical and manic moment in time."
--New York Journal of Books
"George very masterfully has created a novel that informs as well as entertains."
The Plot Against Hip Hop is a noir novel set in the world of hip hop culture. The stabbing murder of esteemed music critic Dwayne Robinson in a Soho office building is dismissed by the NYPD as a gang initiation. But his old friend, bodyguard and security expert D Hunter, suspects there are larger forces at work.
D Hunter's investigation into his mentor's murder leads into a parallel history of hip hop, a place where renegade government agents, behind-the-scenes power brokers, and paranoid journalists know a truth that only a few hardcore fans suspect. This rewrite of hip hop history mixes real-life figures with characters pulled from the culture's hidden world, including Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Russell Simmons.
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THE PLOT AGAINST HIP HOPA NOVEL
By NELSON GEORGE
AKASHIC BOOKSCopyright © 2011 Nelson George
All right reserved.
Chapter OneBig Pimpin'
Flashbulbs exploded into white light and the rapid click of cameras felt like an automatic weapon aimed at an innocent iris. D Hunter blinked and blinked again, trying not to appear as dizzy as he felt. This was no way to keep a rich MC safe.
"Jay! Jay, look over here!"
The camera posse shouted and the rap star, record mogul, and living breathing brand, with the hottest chick in the game wearing his ring, paused for the paparazzi, looking dap in a creamy white suit with matching powder-blue pocket square, tie, and trendy shades. He gave them his trademark sly smile and gracefully manipulated an unlit cigar like a mike. D hovered in the background, just out of camera range, his presence defining the edge of the frame.
Used to be that rap stars wore loose jeans, sideways Yankees caps, and a snarl. Bodyguarding was more about protecting them from themselves than keeping them safe from others. Wasn't it a decade ago that Jay was on the front page of the Daily News, accused of stabbing some kid for bootlegging his CDs? He was a public enemy spawned from the darkest reaches of the jungles of Crooklyn. Now Shawn Carter was a king of New York, and as mainstream as Sunday afternoon baseball.
Jay escaped the flashing cameras and walked toward the Boathouse, a scenic outdoor restaurant/event space off Fifth Avenue in Central Park that was the site of a huge charity bash this balmy summer eve. A $1,000 ticket ($25,000 for a table), a nice tax deduction, a fat goody bag, and maybe a boat ride with a celebrity (who'd do the rowing) made this a well-heeled, upscale crowd.
D didn't know who or what they were raising money for, but he could see it must be something "in the hood" since hip hop heavies and Upper East Side swells were clinking glasses and recklessly eyeballing each other. Diddy. Andre 3000. Andre Harrell. Q-Tip. Russell Simmons was absent only because he was in St. Louis running one of his Hip-Hop Summits with Nelly. (In addition to raising awareness about the pitfalls that could affect black youths, the summit worked as soft promotion for their respective clothing lines.) Someone had resurrected Fonzworth Bentley for the affair, and he spun his umbrella and pursed his lips for the amusement of the blue-haired and pale-skinned.
D was outfitted in black, as was his custom, from his Hush Puppies loafers to his DKNY suit and Gap T-shirt. He settled in behind a table at the rear of the Boathouse, where Jay was parlaying with two fortyish Wall Street types. They were hyping him like crazy on a new energy drink, hoping to entice him to invest in and endorse their "can't miss" product. They wanted to call it Sparkle, suggesting a supple bling effect from the drink. "It's an aspirational beverage," one was saying earnestly, "like hip hop is an aspirational culture." One in every hundred cans would contain a piece of faux bling, while every ten thousandth would have a real tiny diamond. Jay listened politely, nodded, and took the odd puff on his now lit Cuban.
D stood back, amused by the two white pitchmen even as he wondered if he should buy some stock the next day. He enjoyed working for Jay cause the brother had cleaned up so nicely.
But his mind wandered. There were no threats in this space, no gunmen in the trees, no niggas sweating Jay for more than a handout or a loan. The autograph seekers in this crowd were likely the offspring of the rich, which meant D let them ask away, knowing somewhere down the line their daddies might be useful to Jay. So, instead of staring down the odd teenager with a napkin and Mont Blanc pen, D stood there recalling his younger days when he'd go to the Apollo to see Doug E. Fresh or Rakim headline or to Union Square where kids slipped razor blades under their tongues, listened to Red Alert spin, and scoped for vics. He listened to the "Old School at Noon" shows on the local hip hop stations religiously, loving when a gem from the Classical Two or the Treacherous Three was dropped. PE and BDP and De La were the stuff that had animated his life when he was young. Now hip hop was big business for him, just like it was for everyone who made records.
His company, D Security, made its monthly nut securing starlets, MCs, A-list events, and the odd after-hours party. In large part it was the remaining glamour of the rap game that kept his little business afloat, though these brothers tended to pay slower than, say, Miley Cyrus's people. D absently touched the insignia pin on his lapel. It was the only bit of light on his body and it served as an identifier for his employees. A gold D against a royal-blue background. Against the advice of many, he'd kept the pin clear of diamonds. For D the button was a classic look, like Adidas' white shell–toe sneaker and the Yankees' white-on-blue NY. He wasn't gonna change D Security's logo like some bad athletic team switching colors to distract fans from their lousy record.
D gazed around the Boathouse, glanced over to where DJ Beverly Bond played the latest hip hop/R&B fusion from a cute, faceless girl group, and thought of the parties in the park and underground clubs and mad passion that had made benefits like this possible, parties where very wealthy white folk conspired with merely rich black folk to turn that energy into lucrative product. It was, D decided, the American Dream manifest. In God we trust—in cash we lust.
D glanced at his watch. In a bit Jay would bore of the business pitches and head over to the studio where his latest mentee, a kid from Baltimore who had a crunk attitude and old-school skills, was laying down some tracks. Jay would probably stay most of the night, listening to how it was going down and adding his very important two cents. It was cool to see the vet work with this kid, but D wouldn't have to stay that long. One of his men would roll by for overnight duty and D would slide over to his office in Soho to do some paperwork. The accountant was coming tomorrow and he had to go over the books. Thank you, hip hop, he thought. I owe you one.
Excerpted from THE PLOT AGAINST HIP HOP by NELSON GEORGE Copyright © 2011 by Nelson George. Excerpted by permission of AKASHIC BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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What People are Saying About This
"George's prose sparkles with an effortless humanity, bringing his characters to life in a way that seems true and beautiful. The story and the conspiracy behind it is one we all need to hear as consumers and creators in the post-hardcore hip-hop world."
"Part procedural murder mystery, part conspiracy-theory manifesto, Nelson George’s The Plot Against Hip Hop reads like the PTSD fever dream of a renegade who’s done several tours of duty in the trenches . . . Plot’s combination of record-biz knowledge and ghetto fabulosity could have been written only by venerable music journalist Nelson George, who knows his hip-hop history . . . The writing is as New York as 'Empire State of Mind,' and D is a detective compelling enough to anchor a series."
Time Out New York
"The Plot Against Hip Hop is a quick-moving murder mystery that educates its audience on Hip Hop’s pioneer generation along the way . . . it is a nostalgic look at a magical and manic moment in time."
New York Journal of Books
"George very masterfully has created a novel that informs as well as entertains."
"Nelson George comes from an older generation that still remembers Hip Hop as the vital and dangerous voice it once was. This feeling for the past carries throughout the novel, and manages to convey the weight and importance of this profound shift in values without being nostalgic . . . The Plot Against Hip Hop is a fine piece of 'edutainment' both exciting and thought provoking . . . it's great to finally have a novel about Hip Hop written by one of it’s original documentary journalists."