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Urban Lit

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AKA Street Fiction and Hip Hop Fiction (and a couple biographies thrown in too).  Raw, uncensored stories of struggle, violence, tragedy and ultimately hope are set against the gritty reality of contemporary street life.

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Thicker than Water series by Takerra Allen

In New Jersey’s infamous Brick City, four gorgeous young women are trying to make their way in life and love. But in a world of smooth-talking players, cunning drug dealers, and deadly rivalries, are brains, beauty–and even friendship…

The Cartel series by Ashley

When Carter Diamon, the leader of The Cartel, which controls eighty percent of the cocaine industry, dies, his illegitimate son, Carter Jones, takes his place and starts sleeping with the enemy–Miamor, the leader of The Murder Mamas, who wants to take down The Cartel.

Mama’s Boy by ReShonda Billingsley

Gloria Jones is living a mother’s worst fear. There’s a massive manhunt for her son after a regular night out with friends escalated into the fatal shooting of a police officer. Her husband, esteemed minister Elton Jones, is humiliated by the news, complicating an already strained relationship with his son. And everyone in Jasper, Texas, a town already ripe with racial tension, is up in arms. But the killer they’re searching for isn’t the son Gloria knows, and now she must decide whether to turn him in or help him run. As the seventeen-year-old battles for his life, Gloria turns to the woman hell bent on bringing him to justice–prosecutor Kay Christiansen. Kay has built a solid record putting criminals behind bars and now, as she’s about to ride the record to the city’s top spot–Mayor of Houston–this new case could threaten everything she’s worked for. But a mother’s love knows no boundaries, and Gloria will have to face an ugly past and tackle painful secrets in an effort to save her son.

Hood Misfits by Brick

Sixteen-year-old Diamond “Ray-Ray” Jenkins has it made in the shade, until one wrong move by her parents turns their lives upside down. Their secret of taking from the wrong Street King in the Trap, Damien Orlando, has now put her in peril. Their deaths signal an end to Diamond’s semi-perfect life, putting her in the hands of evil. Her only salvation is to learn the game, and to put her trust in a kid wearing a hoodie.

Thug & Payback series by Wahida Clark

Thug series: In a ‘hood boiling over with sex, brutality, and crime, three friends are at a turning point. They can surrender to the streets – and the murderous men who rule there – or walk a totally different path. But nothing is simple for women addicted to life on the edge. And everything has consequences. Angel, Jaz, and Kyra are all leading double lives, torn between working hard to leave the ghetto behind – and being dragged back in by the lying, pimping, drug-dealing men they can’t seem to let go. From jealous rampages to bloody turf wars to rage-fueled vendettas, a tangled web of sex and violence binds these women to the very place that could destroy them.

Payback series: Brianna and Shan couldn’t be more different. From her $1200 weave to her closet full of Gucci, Prada, and Chanel, Brianna believes that men were born to bankroll her lifestyle. Shan likes to make her own money by working for a living at a men’s prison – and prefers Sean John, Baby Phat, and Fubu to Jimmy Choo. Still, despite appearances, Shan and B are sisters where it counts – or so they think. For B, lying is part of the hustle, and the hustle is what gets her sex, clothes, cars – pretty much whatever she wants. She couldn’t care less who gets hurt along the way, as long as it isn’t her. But it’s one thing to hustle tricks, and quite another to betray the one person who really cares. When one of B’s schemes goes too far, blood is spilled – and Shan is caught in the crossfire. Now, with friendship and lives on the line, Brianna’s got one last chance to change her ways – or suffer the consequences.

La Familia series by Paradise Gomez

After their rap group disbands when they discover they are both pregnant by the same man, Mouse and Sammy go their separate ways, one becoming involved with a hardcore thug and the other hoping to return to the music industry.

When Vows are Broken by Samuel Hair

With her gorgeous coffee-and-cream complexion, long black hair, and a winning smile, April Mitchell-Bradford has the capacity to brighten up any room she enters. Everybody who knows her loves her–except her husband, Daryl.
After years of putting on the facade of a happy marriage, April goes outside of her marriage to find the love she’s never known but always felt like she deserved. When her sordid affair results in a pregnancy, Darryl wants to kill her, and her husband’s girlfriend can’t wait to take her place. So who’s to blame when April is found murdered in cold blood?

How Can I Be Down? by Brenda Hampton

As he struggles to control his drug empire and keep his cutthroat girlfriend in check, Kiley Jacoby Abrams has the next several months cut out for him. If that’s not enough, he’s got more setbacks than one man can handle: an arrogant and troublesome brother, a sneaky playa-hating friend, another friend who turns to him for everything, and a woman who only claims to have his back.

Kiley’s life is full of secrets from the past, and for as long as he can remember, he’s been running from a life of crime. Moving from Los Angeles to St. Louis doesn’t allow him the change his heart desires, and Kiley soon realizes that trouble is his middle name. His fight to turn his life around doesn’t last for long. When a new love interests comes knocking at his door, she offers Kiley a life of stability—or possibly a new journey that may lead him straight to the devil’s lonely hell.

Caught Up by Shannon Holmes

Living a very comfortable life with her daughter and husband, Dixyn Greene’s life is blown apart when her husband is taken away by the feds and she must do whatever it takes to maintain her lavish life.

The White House by JaQuavis

The White House is based on true events, reimagining the dark chronicles of a notorious drug kingpin’s death, and the unfortunate events that followed. The young heroine Draya lives paycheck to paycheck, laboring as a maid in a luxurious white house. Oneday, in the course of performing her duties, she is presented with an irresistible opportunity for a quick–and risky–payday. What unfolds in the whitehouse changes the course of her life. Kidnapping, murder, and mayhem lead her–and the reader–througha harrowing and twisting plot to an explosive ending that no one sees coming. Look through the eyes of this young woman and glimpse how a life can forever be altered due to an unfortunate series of events–all touched off in a legendarywhite house.

Country Girls by Blake Karrington

Steeped in the family values of early Southern culture, Niya, the head of a movement of ambitious African-American North Carolina women, uses her gun and her wits to secure the needs of her loved ones.

Ride Wit’ Me by Katina King

Mercedes, a black teen whose Chicago family is rather well-to-do, knows only that her father is an entrepreneur, but when she falls in love and her father forbids her to see her new boyfriend, she learns the truth about the source of her family’s wealth.

Black Lotus by K’wan

In order to avoid an Internal Affairs investigation, Detective Wolf must hunt down the “Black Lotus Killer,” a pursuit that leads to a cold case from his past.

No Home Training: Say U Promise III by Michel Moore

When identical twins Kenya and London are caught in the middle of a deadly drug war, one of them, with an illegitimate baby on the way and a price on her head, fights to avoid the dangers of the game she despises, which invokes the deadly wrath of her sister.

White Heat by Oasis

The divorce decree delivered to Limbo’s Pennsylvania prison cell was the consequence of a single bad decision: choosing the streets instead of his family. Limbo’s downward spiral gained momentum after a group of miscreant federal agents ruined his livelihood. But that only fueled his ambition to win.

Now Limbo has one thing in mind: getting back to the streets with his notorious entourage, the Crips, to rebuild his empire and replenish his family’s wealth, even if it means murder. The unprincipled agents have other plans, though. They have laid a compelling trap that’s certain to put Limbo behind bars forever—Rhapsody, a gorgeous white woman. Things spin out of control, though, when a purely sexual encounter turns into an intimate love affair.White Heat examines a convicted felon’s narcotics business, sexual exploits, violent encounters, and dealings with state and federal officials who act above the law.

Push & The Kid by Sapphire

Push: In an electrifying novel, a black street girl, sixteen years old and pregnant, again, with her father’s child, speaks.
In a voice that shakes us by its language, its story, and its unflinching honesty, Precious Jones records her journey up from Harlem’s lowest depths… For Precious, miraculously, hope appears and the world begins to open up when a courageous black woman – a teacher hellbent to teach – bullies, cajoles, and inspires her to learn to read, to define her own feelings and set them down in a diary: to discover the truth of her life. Day after day they go over the pages, translating the illiterate but developing language of Precious’ journals. The learning process itself, as vividly revealed as the most brutal aspects of Precious’ daily existence, is the heartbeat of a novel that will disturb, galvanize, and stay in the mind.

The Kid: A story of body and spirit, rooted in the hungers of flesh and of the soul, The Kid brings us deep into the interior life of Abdul Jones. We meet him at age nine, on the day of his mother’s funeral. Left alone to navigate a world in which love and hate sometimes hideously masquerade, forced to confront unspeakable violence, his history, and the dark corners of his own heart, Abdul claws his way toward adulthood and toward an identity he can stand behind. In a generational story that moves with the speed of thought from a Mississippi dirt farm to Harlem in its heyday; from a troubled Catholic orphanage to downtown artist’s lofts, The Kid tells of a twenty- first-century young man’s fight to find a way toward the future. A testament to the ferocity of the human spirit and the deep nourishing power of love and of art, The Kidchronicles a young man about to take flight.

Her Sweetest Revenge by Saundra

Forced to care for her siblings when their mother succumbs to drug addiction, seventeen-year-old Mya resolves to live life on her own terms in the aftermath of a brutal gang beating.

The Coldest Winter Ever & A Deeper Love Inside by Sister Souljah

The Coldest Winter Ever: Ghetto-born, Winter is the young, wealthy daughter of a prominent Brooklyn drug-dealing family. Quick-witted, sexy, and business-minded, she knows and loves the streets like the curves of her own body. But when a cold Winter wind blows her life in a direction she doesn’t want to go, her street smarts and seductive skills are put to the test of a lifetime. Unwilling to lose, this ghetto girl will do anything to stay on top.

A Deeper Love Inside: Sharp-tongued, quick-witted Porsche worships her sister Winter. Cut from the same cloth as her father, Ricky Santiaga, Porsche is also a natural-born hustler. Passionate and loyal to the extreme, she refuses to accept her new life in group homes, foster care, and juvenile detention after her family is torn apart. Porsche—unique, young, and beautiful—cries as much as she fights and uses whatever she has to reclaim her status. Unselfish, she pushes to get back everything that ever belonged to her wealthy, loving family. 

Lifestyles of the Rich and Shameless by Kiki Swinson

Exclusive parties, high-end rides, designer everything–for Virginia Beach heiress Megan Rich, it’s just an ordinary day. And one taste of Eric Chambers’ thug loving has her spending like crazy to keep him primed, hot, ‘n ready. But when her parents cut off the cash flow, this poor little bad girl makes a dangerous, life-changing choice. . .

Power & Beauty series by T.I.

A novel of love, tragedy, and hope follows sixteen-year-old Paul “Power” Clay and Tanya “Beauty” Long as they are driven apart by the actions of their new guardian, a rich hustler, and take two very different paths.

Banks Sisters & Project Chick by Nikki Turner

Banks Sisters: Meet the Banks sisters–Simone, Bunny, Tallhya, and Ginger. The four beauties are living under the same roof, but they can’t stand each other. Their only common denominator is their loving grandmother, Me-Ma. When she’s not at work trying to make ends meet, she’s home with her girls, trying to keep them from killing each other. Tragedy strikes when Me-Ma has a fatal heart attack. The sisters are shocked to find that she left the house and all her money to the church. Now the pastor wants them out. To make matters worse, Bunny already owes over a hundred thousand dollars to a very dangerous man. How can four broke women come up with enough money to save the family’s home–and save Bunny’s life?

Project Chick: When Tressa finally has enough of Lucky, her wealthy, possessive, and deranged baby daddy, she finds herself relying on her street smarts to cope with her new life as a poor single mother.

The Last Street Novel by Omar Tyree

Craving more respect for his craft as a writer, particularly from his peer group of urban men, Shareef Crawford allows an enticing female fan to pitch him a no-holds-barred tell-all about an imprisoned Harlem gangster who admires Shareef’s writing. With insane courage and an iron will, Shareef, the street-smart intellectual, finally gets a chance to write something more edgy and noteworthy. However, the Harlem streets he returns to in 2006 have changed, and the stakes of survival are higher now than they’ve ever been. Amid the rise of high-priced condominiums, a changing population, young criminals gunning to make names for themselves, and old criminals fighting to become legitimate businessmen, Shareef finds himself caught in a real-life thriller where past foes become friends, and trusted friends become dangerous foes. Nevertheless, the Harlem legend is hell-bent to do anything he can to gain the respect on the streets that his career as a writer of women’s fiction has failed to give him.

The Family Business series by Carl Weber

By day, the Duncans are an upstanding family who run a thriving car dealership in Queens. By night, they live a dangerous secret life. L.C. Duncan, patriarch of the family, is at the age when he’s starting to think about retirement in sunny Florida. But the recession is taking a bite out of thebusiness and, worrying more, he has to decide which of his children should take over. When his workaholic son Orlando gets the nod, Orlando’s siblings–including the favorite son Vegas, conniving daughter London, glamorous party girl Paris and flamboyant nightclub owner Rio–are up in arms. But so are the Zunigas, a rival family whose fragile businessalliance with the Duncans may explode at any moment. When Vegas suddenly breaks away from the family, London’s lawyer husband, Harris, makes a play for the company and all hell breaks loose. Selling cars, it turns out, is only a small part of the Duncans’ family business. Each member of the family has a secret expertise to reveal. And now, under siege from the Mafia, Mexican drug cartels and the Zunigas, the Duncans will have to stick together–or die separately.

Afterburn & The Other Side of the Pillow by Zane

Afterburn: Shyly hiding his feelings for attractive bank employee Rayne Waters, chiropractor Yardley Brown endeavors to work up the courage to ask her out, unaware that Rayne has been struggling with unfulfilling relationships.

The Other Side of the Pillow: Burned by love in the past, Jemistry Daniels has decided to have strictly physical relationships, until Dr. Tevin Harris, who has his own relationship scars, asks her out after a poetry slam.

Teen

Playground by 50 Cent

Thirteen-year-old Butterball doesn’t have much going for him. He’s teased mercilessly about his weight. He hates the Long Island suburb his mom moved them to and wishes he still lived with his dad in the city. And now he’s stuck talking to a totally out-of-touch therapist named Liz. Liz tries to uncover what happened that day on the playground – a day that landed one kid in the hospital and Butterball in detention. Butterball refuses to let her in on the truth, and while he evades her questions, he takes readers on a journey through the moments that made him into the playground bully he is today.

Tyrell & Kendra by Coe Booth

Tyrell: Fifteen-year-old Tyrell, who is living in a Bronx homeless shelter with his spaced-out mother and his younger brother, tries to avoid temptation so he does not end up in jail like his father.

Kendra: High schooler Kendra longs to live with her mother who, unprepared for motherhood at age fourteen, left Kendra in the care of her grandmother.

Keesha’s House by Helen Frost

Seven teens facing such problems as pregnancy, closeted homosexuality, and abuse each describe in poetic forms what caused them to leave home and where they found home again.

Bluford series by Paul Langan & Anne Schraff

The Bluford Series is a collection of twenty young adult novels that focus on the lives of a group of high school students and their families. The series draws its name from the school which many of the characters attend: Bluford High, named afterGuion “Guy” Bluford, America’s first black astronaut.

Set in contemporary urban America, each novel addresses complex topics relevant to the lives of today’s students: family, friendship, trust, isolation, violence, and peer pressure, to name a few.

Biographies

From Pieces to Weight by 50 Cent

An explosive memoir by one of today’s hottest rap artists recounts the story of his life, his decision to abandon his dangerous life of crime to pursue a hip-hop career, his confontation with a rival drug lord that nearly ended his life, and his rise to success in the music business, and includes a collection of previously unpublished poetry and lyrics.

Street Poison: the life and times of Iceberg Slim by Justin Gifford

The first and definitive biography of one of America’s bestselling, notorious, and influential writers of the twentieth century: Iceberg Slim, né Robert Beck, author of the multimillion-copy memoir Pimp and such equally popular novels as Trick Baby and Mama Black Widow. From a career as a, yes, ruthless pimp in the ’40s and ’50s, IcebergSlim refashioned himself as the first and still the greatest of “street lit” masters, whose vivid books have made him an icon to such rappers as Ice-T, Jay-Z, and Snoop Dogg and a presiding spirit of “blaxploitation” culture. You can’t understand contemporary black (and even American) culture without reckoning with Iceberg Slim and his many acolytes and imitators. Literature professor Justin Gifford has been researching the life and work of Robert Beck for a decade, culminating in Street Poison, a colorful and compassionate biography of one of the most complicated figures in twentieth-century literature. Drawing on a wealth of archival material–including FBI files, prison records, and interviews with Beck, his wife, and his daughters–Gifford explores the sexual trauma and racial violence Beck endured that led to his reinvention as Iceberg Slim, one of America’s most infamous pimps of the 1940s and ’50s. From pimping to penning his profoundly influential confessional autobiography, Pimp, to his involvement in radical politics, Gifford’s biography illuminates the life and works of one of American literature’s most unique renegades.

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