Best Book: Triksta

If you only buy one book this Christmas get Nik Cohn’s Triksta, it’s truly awesome. This is what the blurb on the back says:

“What lunacy would cause a 55-year-old white male, neither lean nor hungry, to embroil himself in the world of New Orleans rap, not merely as an observer, but as an active participant – ideas man, talent-spotter, lyricist, and would-be producer? And why did his experience, after many tribulations, end up so profoundly joyous and fulfilling?

Nik Cohn has loved (and hated) hip-hop since its birth, thirty years ago, and loved (and hated) New Orleans for even longer. The city has haunted him from childhood, an addiction he’s never wanted to kick. But nothing prepared him for the experience of being pitched, more or less by accident, into the role of Triksta, rap impressario.

A white alien in a black world, with no funding or qualifications, and not a clue what he was doing, he had to rethink himself from scratch. Surrounded by a cast-list that included such names as Choppa and Soulja Slim, Big Ramp and Lil T, Bass Heavy, Fifth Ward Weebie, and Shorty Brown Hustle, he entered a world of tiny backstreet studios, broken-down slums and gun turfs, almost unimaginable to those who know New Orleans only as the touristic Big Easy.

“Triksta” is the story of a three-year odyssey that became all-consuming – a journey to the heart of rap, and New Orleans, and self-knowledge. Hilarious, tragic, startling, and exhilirating, sometimes all at once, it is Nik Cohn’s greatest book.”

But more than that and one of the many things that makes this book so good is Cohn’s desire to confront what he perceives as his own internalised love (and fear) of “blackness”.

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