For those even broadly familiar with the details of rapper, actor and now author Dogg's troubled past, this book will read as a thinly-veiled memoir. Dogg's teen protagonist, Ulysses Jeffries, lives in the drug-infested Los Angeles neighborhood of Long Beach in the early 1990s, along with his younger brother Bing and their no-nonsense but loving single mother. When she gets religion, the two turn for attention to a local thug named Buddha, who takes Ulysses in as a kind of protege. ""I didn't have a father or a big brother,"" he says, ""so in a strange way, Buddha became both for me. He had the flyest crib in the neighborhood."" Soon his mentor gets him selling drugs on the streets, a trade for which Ulysses has quite a gift. The story is rife with cliche: Ulysses learns the price of gangster life the hard way; begins writing lyrics for raps and escapes a tragic fate through the transformative power of music. Dogg is part storyteller, part preacher, and his innate charm and streetwise wit go a long way in compensating for the otherwise pat plot and stale prose of this debut, the first of an announced trilogy.
Reviewed on: 10/01/2006 Release date: 10/01/2006 Genre: Fiction