Hip-hop literature — "hip-hop lit" — has been rising in popularity in recent years with its gritty, hard-hitting tales about ghetto life.
But some critics argue the novels are not really cautionary tales but exploit drug use, pimping and poverty. Others argue that some works are poorly edited and the lack of polish detracts from the genre's literary credibility.
Still, the criticism may not deter hip-hop lit's fans. Here are excerpts from three hip-hop lit novels (taken straight from the published works, without editing). You be the judge.
Road Dawgz by K'wan (Triple Crown Publications, 2003)
K-Dawg made it to his building without bumping into anyone else he knew. He couldn't believe how Nikki had come up. She had always been a down ass chick, but she was never much to look at. Now Nikki was all that. However, K-Dawg had never been stupid. He had been down for a while, and Nikki was transparent to him. She was a street bitch. Be that as it may, she might still prove useful; she was sure to have the scoop on the who's, who's in the hood. Even if the information he was sure to pump from her bore no fruit, he could still tap that ass. It was a win-win situation in his favor, as it should be.
As the rusty elevator inched open, K-Dawg's nostrils were assaulted with the rancid smell of human urine. Yep, he was home alright. The elevator moved along at a snail's pace. K-Dawg was a little annoyed, but he didn't stress it too much. It was better than riding an elevator shackled to twenty other men.
On the fifth floor, a scruffy-looking character got on the elevator and took a spot in the corner. He wore a pair of beat up Reebok's that looked like they had seen far better days. His Colombia was torn, and it was patched together in certain places with duct tape. His stench was enough to make K-Dawg cover his nose.
K-Dawg couldn't believe how this dude could run around smelling like that, but there was something about the filthy cat that rang a cord in his head — something he couldn't quite put his finger on
The character must've felt eyes on him, because he turned around and stared at the young man just inches away from him. That's when it finally hit K-Dawg.
The character in the elevator was his childhood friend, Flip.
A Hustler’s Wife by Nikki Turner (Triple Crown Publications, 2003)
With Bengee's new Columbian supplier, he was able to step it up to the next level, a level that the Richmond's hustlers hadn't seen in a few years since the late 80's. He was large. He was Virginia's and North Carolina's major supplier. Riding high on his success, Bengee got very arrogant. One of his childhood friends owed him some money and when he went to pick it up, it was $5,000.00 short. Bengee put the guy in his car, took him up on Midlothian Turnpike, right at Cloverleaf Mall's intersection, and stripped him down of everything, but his tiger striped briefs. Bengee created a sign and made him put it around his neck: "I am a man who does not pay my debts off." Bengee made him walk up and down the mall's intersection. The whole experience was humiliating to this guy because people were riding pass, honking the horn, waving, pointing and laughing.