Hip-Hop Family Tree Book 2: 1981-1983 (Fantasy Graphics Books $27.99) by Ed Piskor is his follow up to Hip-Hop Family Tree Book 1: 1970-1981. In this volume, you see the evolution from club following to recording industry. Names you recognize are put in a different light—Melle Mel, Kool Herc, Dr. Dre, DJ Yella, Ice T, Run-DMC, Rick Rubin, Russell Simmons. It’s an oversize graphic novel that doesn’t exactly follow Jeff Chang’s Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, but all the major players are there in those same roles hip-hop heads have read about over and over. They don’t say collectors’ item for nothing, especially considering those special artist mock covers depicting hip-hop artists and elements in the final pages.
Bad Feminist (Harper Collins $15.99) by Roxane Gay is all over the place. First, read the Introduction, next the last chapter, then go back to chapter one if you want to have Gay’s “bad feminist” viewpoint firmly in mind as you read her essays. They jump from shocks of a first year professor to Sweet Valley High School, and other literary, TV and film critiques, to all the other places she goes. Is it about agreeing or disagreeing with her? No. It may be the discussions you have with other readers that really make this book hit its mark—getting people talking about the things she’s talking about or saying.
Kiss the Ring (Touchstone $14.99) by Meesha Minks is a fast, hard-boiled urban tale. The elements are all there: explicitly detailed sexual acts, drug use, mystery and murder. You’ll find the prose strong, the premise compelling, and a cast of dynamic well-developed characters. When a mother goes undercover to discover who in a crew of thieves killed her son, she isn’t ready for all that entails. Enjoy the ride. This is a sure fire winner, as is Minks’s Real Wifey series. Find out more at www.meeshamink.com.
Choir Director 2: Runaway Bride (Grand Central Publishing $25.00) by Carl Weber is going a few places you least expect it. It’s a well-paced read, excerpted online here. Aaron, the titular choir director, and Tia are getting married, or so he thought. What happens and how spins like a soap opera of characters and situations. Just like in book one, Choir Director, there are more super-problems to be solved involving drugs, murder and mystery. Some are to be expected; others are hard to see as entertainment. It’s a mixed bag of stories and drama that may or may not work. You decide.