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Gangsta rap
Benjamin Zephaniah
Teen Fiction ZEPHANI

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Zephaniah (Refugee Boy) paints a vivid picture of the hip-hop music scene and related gang warfare in London, but his message to readers is mixed. While attending an alternative school, three reputed trouble makers ("known for their confrontational behaviour") are given the opportunity to develop their music skills and voice their anger against their school system, their parents and other authority figures. Marga Man, the owner of a local music store, helps 15-year-old Ray and his buddies Tyrone and Prem form a band called the Positive Negatives; they release a hit single and the group is soon on the way to international stardom. The price of their success is high, however. Fans of a rival rap band grow vicious. Live concerts performed by the Positive Negatives become breeding grounds for fights, and the band members receive mysterious, recurring threats. On the one hand, the author clearly communicates the boys' commitment to their music and the ill effects of unleashed violence; on the other hand, his account of the three expelled students becoming overnight stars stretches credibility, and the expression of their anger seems to be the only purpose and goal for their music. Although the book features ultra-hip dialogue, romance and action, unfortunately, readers don't get a sense of the boys' characters or their relationships (to one another or to family members and other friends), and will likely remember the violence more than the author's message. Ages 14-up. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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main characters Ray
Age: 15
Gets expelled from school; passionate hip-hopper; hangs out with his friends at a small music shop; they are put in jail after a fight; headmaster decides to put him and his friends into an alternative program that allows them to pursue their rap interests; they form a band and soon become successful; attract the attention of a rival band; engage in a deadly gang fight; they vow to work togther to end the violence.

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