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Let Me Hear a Rhyme
Cover of Let Me Hear a Rhyme
Let Me Hear a Rhyme
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In this striking new novel by the critically acclaimed author of Allegedly and Monday's Not Coming, Tiffany D. Jackson tells the story of three Brooklyn teens who plot to turn their murdered friend...
In this striking new novel by the critically acclaimed author of Allegedly and Monday's Not Coming, Tiffany D. Jackson tells the story of three Brooklyn teens who plot to turn their murdered friend...
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Description-

  • In this striking new novel by the critically acclaimed author of Allegedly and Monday's Not Coming, Tiffany D. Jackson tells the story of three Brooklyn teens who plot to turn their murdered friend into a major rap star by pretending he's still alive.

    Brooklyn, 1998. Biggie Smalls was right: Things done changed. But that doesn't mean that Quadir and Jarrell are cool letting their best friend Steph's music lie forgotten under his bed after he's murdered—not when his rhymes could turn any Bed Stuy corner into a party.

    With the help of Steph's younger sister Jasmine, they come up with a plan to promote Steph's music under a new rap name: the Architect. Soon, everyone wants a piece of him. When his demo catches the attention of a hotheaded music label rep, the trio must prove Steph's talent from beyond the grave.

    As the pressure of keeping their secret grows, Quadir, Jarrell, and Jasmine are forced to confront the truth about what happened to Steph. Only, each has something to hide. And with everything riding on Steph's fame, they need to decide what they stand for or lose all that they've worked so hard to hold on to—including each other.

    "Jackson scores a bullseye with her passionate homage to Black city life in the late '90s." (Publishers Weekly, "An Anti-Racist Children's and YA Reading List")

About the Author-

  • Tiffany D. Jackson is the critically acclaimed author of Allegedly, Monday's Not Coming, and Let Me Hear a Rhyme. A Walter Dean Myers Honor Book and Coretta Scott King–John Steptoe New Talent Award winner, she received her bachelor of arts in film from Howard University, earned her master of arts in media studies from the New School, and has over a decade in TV and film experience. The Brooklyn native still resides in the borough she loves. You can visit her at www.writeinbk.com.

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    March 15, 2019
    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 Brooklyn 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(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from April 1, 2019
    Jackson (Monday’s Not Coming) deftly chronicles the timely story of bold young talent gone too soon and the survivors who struggle to keep it alive. The year is 1998 and aspiring teen rap artist Stephon Davis Jr. is dead in Brooklyn, the victim of an apparent street shooting perpetrated by persons unknown. Determined not to let his musical genius die with him, Steph’s heartbroken best friends, Quadir and Jarrell, and his grief-stricken sister, Jasmine, hatch a plan to pretend that Steph is still alive in order to turn him into a rap superstar like his recently slain idol, Biggie Smalls. As Quadir and Jarrell hawk Steph’s posthumous demos (with lyrics written by Malik-16) and a record label rep shows interest in meeting the young artist, an increasingly haunted Jasmine delves into the suspicious circumstances surrounding her brother’s murder. From obscure rap and hip-hop references to invocations of scalding hot combs, Jackson scores a bull’s-eye with her passionate homage to black city life in the late ’90s, yet it’s her earnest takes on creativity, love, and loss that are timeless. Ages 13–up. Agent: Natalie Lakosil, Bradford Literary Agency.

  • School Library Journal

    May 1, 2019

    GGr 8 Up-After Steph is fatally shot, his sister, Jasmine, and friends Quadir and Jarrell refuse to let his dreams of becoming a rapper die with him. Posing as Steph's management, they sell his CDs on the streets of Bedford-Stuyvesant and try to score him a record deal-all without letting anyone know that their client is dead. Like fellow Brooklyn native Biggie Smalls, whose recent death has also cast a pall over the neighborhood, Steph hypnotizes listeners with his smooth flow and potent rhymes. But the truth threatens to catch up with the teens, especially as they get closer to discovering who killed their friend. Jackson vividly brings to life pre-gentrified 1990s Bed-Stuy. Grim realities such as the threat of violence and racial profiling by police pervade the novel, but so does Jackson's abiding love for Brooklyn (or, in Biggie's words, "Spread love, it's the Brooklyn way"). The book alternates among the first-person perspectives of the three protagonists and includes flashbacks to life before Steph's death-an ambitious move that at times slows the pace and keeps the characters slightly underdeveloped. Still, readers will be invested in seeing the trio succeed both in making Steph a star and in realizing their own goals. VERDICT For fans of Jackson and realistic fiction, and a must for hip-hop heads, especially those who devoured Angie Thomas's On the Come Up.-Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal

    Copyright 2019 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from April 1, 2019
    Grades 9-12 *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.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2019, American Library Association.)

  • Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

    ★ "Exceptional storytelling, well-crafted, true-to-life dialogue, and the richly drawn Brooklyn landscape will draw readers into this fast-paced blend of mystery, budding romance, and social commentary...Thoroughly engrossing and as infectious as Steph's lyrics." — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

    ★ "Jackson repeatedly proves that she is a titan among her peers, and her latest novel is no exception... Jackson weaves the three points of view together seamlessly, creating richly drawn and authentically real teen characters." — ALA Booklist (starred review)

    ★ "Deftly chronicles the timely story of bold young talent gone too soon... Jackson scores a bull's-eye with her passionate homage to black city life in the late '90s, yet it's her earnest takes on creativity, love, and loss that are timeless." — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

    ★ "This YA novel harmonizes music and prose to create a certified literary banger." — Shelf Awareness (starred review)

    ★ "Readers will feel connected to these teens' love of hip-hop, their loyalty to each other and their love for their community... offers moving portraits of young people... an engaging ode to '90s hip-hop and to love in many forms." — BookPage (starred review)

    "With thoughtful attention to detail, Jackson offers a believable cast of Black teens immersed in a particularly rich hip-hop moment. The combination of lyricism and narrative realism is an effective mode of representing a particular sort of adolescence against the backdrops of New York City and rap music." — Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

    "Jackson presents a fast-moving, heart-pounding homage to nineties hip-hop, Brooklyn, and the power of music, love, and friendship. Readers are transported to a time when DJs and MCs rocked the parties and when word-of-mouth could make you a star." — The Horn Book

    "A thrilling, heart-rending, unforgettable novel." — Buffalo News

    PRAISE FOR MONDAY'S NOT COMING:
    "A mesmerizing, punch-in-the-gut story about the power of friendship and the horrors hiding right in front of us." — Laurie Halse Anderson, author of Speak and Chains

    ★ "This thought-provoking thriller examines issues such as abuse, gentrification, and the marginalization of people of color with nuance and sensitivity. The narrative deftly moves back and forth between past and present, building to a devastating conclusion. A spellbinding, profoundly moving choice for YA collections." — School Library Journal (starred review)

    ★ "Jackson's sophomore novel features another ripped-from-the-headlines premise that will keep readers guessing through the final pages. Jackson's characters and their heart-wrenching story linger long after the final page, urging readers to advocate for those who are disenfranchised and forgotten by society and the system." — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

    ★ "Jackson effortlessly weaves elements of suspense with issues of race, class, and gender, casting a harsh light on a world that often refuses to notice the disappearances of black and brown girls. The twist at the end is both gaspworthy and heartbreaking." — Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (starred review)

    "Jackson doesn't hold anything back when it comes to the pain of abuse and the ramifications of turning a blind eye. It's a frank, devastating read filled with real and flawed...

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