Queen of Urban Prophecy

Aya de León. Dafina, $15.95 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-1-4967-2862-3
The incisive if uneven latest from de Leon (A Spy in the Struggle) follows a young female rapper headlining her first national tour. After a more established rapper bows out of a tour, up-and-comer Deza Starling gets the headliner spot on an all-female tour. On the road, she struggles with self-doubt and battles misogyny (a Rolling Stone article portrays her as a “sexy girl with no substance, who was way out of her league,” when in actuality her fans are catching onto her raw and confrontational lyrics). One of her songs becomes a hit and earns her the name “Queen of Urban Prophecy,” but Deza isn’t sure she can keep up with the title. As the tour goes on, a romance develops with a DJ. Then, after the record company adds a male duo to headline over Deza, she fights to keep her focus. Flashbacks convey Deza’s difficult childhood, and as the tour goes on she takes various political stands. The author tries to harmonize a coming-of-age story, commentary on the music industry, and romance, but doesn’t quite hit the mark, even if the drama is often entertaining. This does a good job showing a young woman finding her voice amid adversity, but the uneven narrative lessens the impact. Agent: Jenni Ferrari, Union Literary. (Jan.)
Reviewed on : 11/15/2021
Release date: 12/28/2021
Genre: Fiction
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