Synopses & Reviews
Based on police wiretaps and exclusive interviews with drug kingpins and hip-hop insiders, this is the untold story of how the streets and housing projects of southeast Queens took over the rap industry.
For years, rappers from Nas to Ja Rule have hero-worshipped the legendary drug dealers who dominated Queens in the 1980s with their violent crimes and flashy lifestyles. Now, for the first time ever, this gripping narrative digs beneath the hip-hop fables to re-create the rise and fall of hustlers like Lorenzo “Fat Cat” Nichols, Gerald “Prince” Miller, Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff, and Thomas “Tony Montana” Mickens. Spanning twenty-five years, from the violence of the crack era to Run DMC to the infamous murder of NYPD rookie Edward Byrne to Tupac Shakur to 50 Cents battles against Ja Rule and Murder Inc., to the killing of Jam Master Jay, Queens Reigns Supreme is the first inside look at the infamous southeast Queens crews and their connections to gangster culture in hip hop today.
"This engrossing portrait of the trigger-happy hip-hop demimonde explores the origins of the gangsta-rap ethos in southeast Queens, home to legendary narcotics gangs and many of rap's biggest stars, including 50 Cent and Ja Rule. New York magazine music editor Brown begins by chronicling the careers of three Queens drug kingpins during the 1980s crack epidemic, when maintaining a fearsome reputation for violence was a must for doing business. He continues through to the 1990s, when a younger generation of hip-hop artists and impresarios idolized such criminals and adopted their twisted moral economy of street cred. Rappers dissed rivals' lack of a criminal background while burnishing their own; the war of rhymes occasionally escalated into gunplay between hostile entourages; prison stints and shoot-out wounds were coveted markers of hoodlum authenticity. Drawing on interviews with gangsters and rappers alike, Brown looks behind the tabloid headlines about such hip-hop luminaries as Russell Simmons and Tupac Shakur, while fleshing out the dynamics of machismo, loyalty, vengeance and greed in the claustrophobic 'hood. His is a vigorous account of an American subculture that's colorful, influential and, given the body count, tragic. 16 pages photos." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Brown has the inside scoop on major figures from Russell Simmons to 50 Cent in this unprecedented and exclusive story of the gangster culture in hip hop today.
About the Author
Ethan Brown writes about pop music, crime, and drug policy for publications such as Wired, New York, Rolling Stone, The Village Voice, and GQ. This is his first book. He lives in New York.