cover image Got Your Back: The Life of a Bodyguard in the Hardcore World of Gangsta Rap

Got Your Back: The Life of a Bodyguard in the Hardcore World of Gangsta Rap

Frank Alexander. St. Martin's Press, $22.95 (214pp) ISBN 978-0-312-18111-6

Alexander--ex-Marine, bodybuilder and professional bodyguard--began working for Suge Knight, president of Death Row Records, in 1995 and soon became the friend and chief bodyguard of Tupac Shakur, who was recording for the record company. Aided by Cuda, coauthor with Ice T of The Ice Opinion, Alexander recounts his year with the famous rapper, leading up to September 13, 1996, when Shakur was gunned down in Las Vegas, Nev., by a killer who has never been identified. Written in gangsta style (""I thought to myself `Fuck, I can't park here.' It was so nasty, I didn't want to get my Benz all messed up""), the book presents a stunning picture of the ""Thug Life,"" as one of Shakur's tattoos read, replete with drugs, sex and brawling. Alexander admired Shakur for his daring, humor and sexual prowess, and shows him to have been driven, complex and tempestuous as well as generous and caring--""both poet and warrior."" A cloyingly sentimental conclusion dwells on Alexander's pride in having worked for Shakur. It also includes Alexander's lament that, although there was nothing he could have done to save his hero, he was abandoned by the Death Row family after the killing, becoming the fall guy who will always be known as ""the brotha who let Tupac get shot."" Eight pages of b&w photos, not seen by PW. (Aug.)