Check out our list of favorite books about crime, sex, and hood affairs
Black folks are often criticized for rarely reading or not reading at all. While it is true that we, as a people, could probably stand to do MORE reading, there are several books that have been read in damn-near every hood in America. Although we would encourage people to read books that can provide knowledge, and depth of understanding, there is nothin’ wrong with sitting in your favorite seat and reading great works of urban fiction, street tales, gangsta isht, and coming-of-age narratives.
Over the next few pages we have compiled a list of books that you’ve probably read (or at least heard of) that we would consider “hood classics”. Tomorrow we will have a list of more “intellectual” books that are just as entertaining and equally as important (if not more so).
Pimp by Iceberg Slim
The quintessential book for learning the rules to this pimpin’ and how to break a hoe for her trap. This Iceberg Slim novel has been romanticized and shouted-out by many a rapper over the years.
Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown
A story about an adopted girl who has lesbian sex, incestuous relations, and hard times, sounds like entertainment to us!
Black Gangster by Donald Goines
Along with Iceberg Slim, Donald Goines should be considered “The Godfather” of the hip-hop culture’s literary cannon. His book Black Gangster and it’s protagonist, Prince, were created directly from Goines’ experiences in his real life in the streets.
Check out mentions that he has gotten in some of you favorite rapper’s lyrics:
I’m the act to follow, housing kids like Ronald
Mac like Donald Goines, flows I change like coins
-from ‘Orange Pineapple Juice’ “Resurrection” 
Criminal ties for centuries, a legend in my own rhymes,
So niggaz whisper when they mention,
Machiavelli was my tutor, Donald Goines my father figure,
Moms sent me to go play with the drug dealers.
-from ‘Tradin’ War Stories’ All Eyez On Me 
With so much drama in QBC,
Kinda hard being Escobaro,
Eldorado Red, sippin Dom out the bottle,
my life is like a Donald Goines novel.
–from ‘Escobar ’97 Men in Black Soundtrack 
The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah
This is a must read for any of you that have been out of the loop.
Set in the projects of Brooklyn, New York, The Coldest Winter Ever is the story of Winter Santiaga (aptly named because she was born during one of New York’s worst snowstorms), the rebellious, pampered teenage daughter of a notorious drug dealer. Ricky Santiaga, Winter’s father, has attained substantial wealth through his illegal drug empire and lavishes his wife, Winter, and Winter’s three younger sisters, Porsche, Lexus, and Mercedes, with the best things money can (and cannot) buy. Unknown to her father, Winter uses her hustling tricks to get whatever she wants. Winter’s world is turned upside down on her 16th birthday, when her father suddenly decides to relocate his family and his growing business to Long Island, but she is determined not to sever ties with the old neighborhood.
Black Girl Lost by Donald Goines
Goines’ second novel to make the list actually inspired a Nas song by the same name, and is just as deep and introspective in prose as it is in lyrics.
Makes Me Wanna Holler by Nathan McCall
Nathan McCall’s book about his life of crime and how the justice system works against Black people has been read and critiqued by professors and scholar nationwide.
One reviewer had this to say:
Recent statistics from the U.S. Justice Department reveal that black males represent more than half the prison population. There are more African-American men in prison serving lengthy sentences, than in college, and a large percentage of these prisoners are unable to read. It is quite clear that all high school dropouts, with emphasis on minority youth, are more likely to end up in prison, or worse, dead from street violence and drugs.
Nathan McCall is one of these black males who ended up in the prison system. His book, Makes Me Wanna Holler, provides a compelling view of how he got there, and how he was able to make the necessary changes to become a positive contributor to his family and community.
Inspirational AND gangsta, what more can you ask for?
Manchild In The Promised Land by Claude Brown
Claude Brown, whose 1965 book, “Manchild in the Promised Land,” chronicled his ascent from a harrowing childhood of violent crime and poverty in Harlem and became a classic of American literature, died on Feb. 2 in Manhattan. He was 64.
“Manchild in the Promised Land” quickly became a best seller, opening up a new world to mainstream audiences with its raw narrative of a boyhood spent among killers, drug addicts and prostitutes. Though not published as a memoir, it closely paralleled Mr. Brown’s life in virtually every detail.
Monster by Sanyika Shakur
Sanyika Shakur (born Kody Dehjon Scott; November 13, 1963), also known by his former street moniker Monster, is a former member of the Los Angeles gang the Eight Tray Gangster Crips. He got his nickname as a 13-year-old gang member when he beat and stomped a robbery victim to death. Shakur claimed to have reformed in prison, joined the Republic of New Afrika movement, and wrote an acclaimed autobiography called Monster: The Autobiography of an L.A. Gang Member, which was first published in 1993.
Monster describes how Shakur was drawn into gang life, his experiences as a gangster both on the street and in prisons, and eventually his transformation into a Black nationalist. The Containment Theory, Walter Reckless’ thesis on social deviance, can be used to explain and understand the behavior of Sanyika Shakur.
Trick Baby by Iceberg Slim
In the book, Trick Baby, Iceberg Slim (Robert Beck) recounts the tale of a young man known by the street name White Folks. White Folks grew up in a poor neighborhood on the south side of Chicago, and became one of the most powerful con men the city had ever known. This book tells the story of the life of a con man, and reveals the secrets of the con.
Both the street name of White Folks, and the hateful name “Trick Baby” he was often referred to were based upon his interracial heritage. He was raised by his black mother, but had the appearance of his white father (who abandoned the family while he was very young). He was 6’2” with blond hair and blue eyes, not to mention his white skin. But growing up in a black neighborhood, with a black mother, he identified with the black race. This caused many hardships, including the hateful name, “Trick Baby.” This was because many people assumed he was the progeny of a prostitute who had become pregnant from a white john, or trick.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley (Yes, Roots Alex Haley)
Does this one EVEN need an overview?? If you haven’t read it, you’re slippin’, seriously…
Power and Beauty by Clifford “T.I.” Harris and David Ritz
“The Kang” put his creative writing skills to the test while he was on his most recent “vaction” and along with David Ritz has written a pretty decent book about a man and woman who are raised by the same woman and go through their own maturing process after their matriarch’s untimely death. We’ll keep it funky, we’re not done reading this one yet but we’ve talked to several people who seem to thoroughly enjoy it and were surprised at how well it came out.
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