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Let Me Hear a Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson; Narrated by Korey Jackson, Nile Bullock , Adenrele Ojo, and Adam Lazarre-White
Katherine Tegen Books / Harper Audio
Publication Date: January 1, 2019
NYC teen Steph is dead, presumably because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. After his funeral, his sister Jasmine and his two best friends, Jarell and Quadir, discover his stockpile of mix tapes and notebooks of lyrics in the shoeboxes under his bed. But they also find drugs, a gun, and the business card of a police sergeant, raising some questions about just what Steph was up to in the months before his death. Nevertheless, the three band together to produce and market Steph’s music, which involves pretending a new recording artist “The Architect” is alive and ready to sign a record deal, but the illusion that Steph is still breathing draws dangerous attention from several quarters.
The talented Tiffany D. Jackson follows up her thrillers Allegedly and the Coretta Scott King Steptoe Award Winning Monday’s Not Coming with a historical novel rich with nineties hip hop references. Four narrators voice the perspectives of four very different young people coming up in a 1997 and 1998 pre-gentrification Brooklyn landscape replete with Biggie Smalls homages, Hype Williams videos, bubble coats, and Timberlands. A mosaic of short chapters pulls the listener through the mystery until characters reveal their own secrets, helping to elucidate the questions around Steph’s too-short life.
This strong production is perfect for readers of Jackson’s other novels, as well as Lamar Giles’ Spin and Angie Thomas’ On the Come Up which deal with the issues of getting signed and getting promoted, as well as the nascent talents explored in the movies 8 Mile and Patti Cake$. Other potential read-alikes are historical music tour de forces Ballads of Suburbia and I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone by Stephanie Kuehnert and The Scar Boys and Scar Girl by Len Vlahos.
— Wendy Stephens