George (City Kid), a prolific cultural critic, attempts to squeeze 40 years of hip-hop and urban culture into this uneven noir, which centers on the stabbing of Dwayne Robinson, a middle-aged music critic and black intellectual with a career similar to that of the author’s. Robinson dies clutching a bloodied cassette tape at the door to his pal D’s downtown Manhattan office. When the authorities quickly dismiss the murder as just another gang initiation, D takes the investigation into his own hands, discovering bits and pieces of his late friend’s hip-hop conspiracy theory along the way. George embeds the story with cultural references that will resonate with fans of the music (each chapter cleverly takes its name from a relevant rap song), and the real-life East Coast/West Coast feud that led to the deaths of Biggie and Tupac plays a large role in the development of the plot. Unfortunately, that plot can be slow-moving and hard to follow. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/05/2011 Release date: 11/01/2011 Genre: Fiction
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