Let Me Hear a Rhyme
by Jackson, Tiffany D.; Sharif, Malik (CON)

Three Brooklyn teens plot to turn their murdered friend into a major rap star by pretending he is still alive, in a vibrant standalone novel by the NAACP Image Award-nominated author of Monday's Not Coming. 50,000 first printing. Simultaneous eBook.

*Starred Review* Jackson repeatedly proves that she is a titan among her peers, and her latest novel is no exception. It whisks readers away to a 1990s Brooklyn, where hip-hop pulses through life. Quadir, Jarrell, and Stephon are the tightest of friends, and when Stephon is murdered, Quadir and Jarrell refuse to let his stunning talent for words die with him. With the help of Stephon's younger sister, Jasmine, they embark on a mission to elevate their fallen comrade to stardom and gift the world his rhymes. Their plan involves circulating Stephon's music under a new persona they call the Architect, not revealing that the songs are, in fact, posthumous releases. However, the trio doesn't share the same ultimate goal. Quadir and Jarrell want to boost their dead friend to fame and, perhaps, find a way out of the projects, while Jasmine wants to discover who killed her brother. When their scheme takes off, the pressure of keeping their secret mounts, as does danger the nearer they get to the truth behind Stephon's murder. Jackson weaves the three points of view together seamlessly, creating richly drawn and authentically real teens characters. Hip-hop is more than a musical genre; it's a culture and a way of life. Jackson embraces that truth and explores it with uninhibited style in her new novel. Grades 9-12. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

After a Brooklyn teen is murdered, his sister and best friends set out to launch his rap career. Stephon "Steph" Davis could've been one of the hottest emcees to come out of Brooklyn, just like his inspiration and fellow Bed-Stuy rapper, the Notorious B.I.G. Unfortunately, like Biggie, Steph was murdered. His grieving best friends, Quadir and Jarrell, discover a treasure trove of tapes and CDs of Steph's music in his bedroom. With the help of Jasmine, his socially conscious sister, Quadir and Jarrell hatch a plan to promote Steph's music. With lyrical finesse (penned for the novel by Sharif) and beats that can rock a party, Steph is "killing them while he's dead." Soon, Steph's demo catches the attention of a well-known rep for a major record label who wants to meet hip-hop's newest rising star. The three teens must keep up the charade while also trying to uncover the truth about his murder. Exceptional storytelling, well-crafted, true-to-life dialogue, and the richly drawn B rooklyn landscape will draw readers into this fast-paced blend of mystery, budding romance, and social commentary. Quadir, Jarrell, and Jasmine are endearing, tenacious, and memorable. Hip-hop lovers of all ages will appreciate this homage to rap legends from a bygone-but not forgotten-era. Thoroughly engrossing and as infectious as Steph's lyrics: a testament to the unbreakable bonds of friendship and a love letter to Brooklyn and hip-hop in the late '90s. (Fiction. 13-18) Copyright Kirkus 2019 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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