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Never Drank the Kool-Aid: Essays.

* Never Drank the Kool-Aid: Essays by Toure Picador, March 2006 $15, ISBN 0-312-42578-3

Whether anybody likes it or not, hip-hop is as American as apple pie. Whether the focus is Lil' Kim's implants or 50 Cent's thuggish newfound wealth or Ying Yang Twins' minstrel idiocy, there is so much more to the music and culture than the surface banality and vulgarity, as Toure knows. In his new collection of pop essays and magazine features, the cultural observer disagrees with the critics who think hip-hop is crude, dull, criminal and hypersexual, and positions himself as a fan of the street music as long as "we continue to live in America and suffer the daily assaults of America."

Toure can write about the outsized paranoia of Biggie and DMX, play the dozens with Kanye West about his Jeffrey Hunter-like neckwear, tease about Eminem's Father Knows Best routine with his family and get some licks in on Diddy and Russell Simmons and their lofty ambitions. Sometimes he can be fearless or even reckless. He goes up against the bulldog mogul Suge Knight, a massive man of Death Row Records fame, who supposedly threatens the writer. At other times, he slows the ball down to do straight profiles of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Colin Powell and Jennifer Capriati, as well as a real slice-and-dice essay on Condoleezza Rice.

The author of Soul City (Little, Brown and Company, 2004) and The Portable Promised Land (Little, Brown and Company, 2002), Toure now offers a collection of essays that is serious entertainment--smart, probing and sometimes surprising. Give it a try.

--Reviewed by Robert Fleming
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Author:Fleming, Robert
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jul 1, 2006
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