cover image No Disrespect

No Disrespect

Sister Souljah. Crown Publishers, $23 (360pp) ISBN 978-0-8129-2483-1

Those seeking tales of Souljah's rap career-or the controversy in which candidate Bill Clinton condemned her statements about the Los Angeles riots-must look elsewhere. This is a memoir of the author's surviving-the-ghetto life and her passionate relationships. ``What I am is natural and serious and as sensitive as an open nerve on an ice cube,'' declares Souljah at the outset, but her lightly edited vernacular tale-complete with large chunks of ``freely recreated'' dialogue-rarely has such style. Still, her story of childhood in the Bronx projects, where women on welfare accepted dissolute men as ``rentals,'' is chilling. Souljah's mom, admirably, encouraged her daughter's reading at an early age, and she grew-it's not too clear how-to gain a fervent sense of self and spirituality. Her portraits of people-including a Muslim boyfriend fighting his homosexuality, a female classmate at Rutgers University casually manipulating men for money and a dream boyfriend who lies about having a wife-should strike a chord with peers. Though Souljah's continual comments on Afrocentrism and white oppression are unfortunately Manichean, her closing advice to parents and to peers about successful relationships (``Remember: men will lie'') is, in the main, wisely cautionary. Author tour. (Feb.)