Sunday, September 10, 2006

Queens Reigns Supreme: Fat Cat, 50 Cent, and the Rise of the Hip Hop Hustler - Ethan Brown

The Basics: Queens Reigns Supreme: Fact Cat, 50 Cent and the Rise of the Hip Hop Hustler, Ethan Brown, 2005, paperback

How I Found it: I can't remember. Perhaps it was one of the books that Amazon recommended to me?

What's it about?: The book begins with a section on the history of "hustlers" in the New York borough of Queens. It begins with the organized gangs of cocaine dealers in the 70s and continues through to the crack heyday of the 80s. The second half of the book explains the history of hip hop in Queens, starting with Run-DMC and culminating with the rise of Irv "Gotti" Lorenzo's label Murder Inc. This section of the book also details how the hustlers are connected to hip hop and explains how some of the gangsters even funded hip hop artists to use as money laundering schemes.

Did I like it?: I thought this book would be interesting as I wanted to know the history behind the boasts of many hip hop stars. Instead it was the same old same old glorification of violence and the lifestyle of the hustler. This is Brown's first book and it shows. He attempts to take a journalistic tone, but fails as he is obviously drawn in by his admiration for the lifestyle. The book also suffered from bad grammar and some very obvious editing mistakes. I was quite disappointed in it.

Will you like it?: You would have to be a big hip hop fan, and a fan of the acts discussed in the book to find it interesting. As a biography of Run-DMC, Jam Master Jay, Ja Rule, 50 Cent, and Irv Lorenzo, it's not bad, if a little brief. As anything else, it's not a great book. Not recommended.

But don't take my word for it: Editorial reviews from, reader reviews from (because no one in Canada has reviewed it), a review from, and a review from someone's blog.

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