This is another book that I read an excerpt of on EpicReads and finally just got around to actually reading. The excerpt hooked me with different POVs, tribute to Biggie Smalls, and original rap lyrics, and the book as a whole did not disappoint.
Biggie Smalls was right. Things done changed. But that doesn’t mean that Quadir and Jarrell are okay letting their best friend Steph’s tracks lie forgotten in his bedroom after he’s killed—not when his beats could turn any Bed-Stuy corner into a celebration, not after years of having each other’s backs.
Enlisting the help of Steph’s younger sister, Jasmine, Quadir and Jarrell come up with a plan to promote Steph’s music under a new rap name: The Architect. Soon, everyone in Brooklyn is dancing to Steph’s voice. But then his mixtape catches the attention of a hotheaded music rep and—with just hours on the clock—the trio must race to prove Steph’s talent from beyond the grave.
Now, as the pressure—and danger—of keeping their secret grows, Quadir, Jarrell, and Jasmine are forced to confront the truth about what happened to Steph. Only each has something to hide. And with everything riding on Steph’s fame, together they need to decide what they stand for before they lose everything they’ve worked so hard to hold on to—including each other.
Where do I even begin with a book like this? Tiffany D. Jackson created a book where violence and love are woven together in a powerful way. The plot, characters, and setting work together to create a heartbreaking story of a young man’s murder and the chain of events it set off.
I absolutely loved the setting. Let Me Hear a Rhyme takes place just before I was born but I absolutely love 90’s hip-hop and rap, so all the references in this book had me hooked. New York is always a fun place to set a story but the love the characters have for their corner of Brooklyn is evident and powerful in the book. It was also a lot of fun to read about technology in ’98: pagers, computers being rare, having to free up a line before you can burn CDs, etc. There was always slang or a scenario popping up that reminded me we were in 1998 and not present day.
The characters were everything in this book. Steph had a few chapters from his POV scattered throughout the book but the majority of chapters alternated between Jarrell, Quadir, and Jasmine’s POVs. They have such distinct perspectives, goals, and situations, so each POV added to the story in unique ways.
The plot itself is pretty fast-paced. Not only do we have Jarrell, Quadir, and Jasmine trying to get Steph signed on a label, but we have the mystery of who killed Steph, conflicts over each character’s future, changing relationships, and so many other side plots. The amount of things happening in this book and the way they are seamlessly tied together helped power me through the book in a few hours.
I really loved everything about Let Me Hear a Rhyme and I think it all boils down to how genuine everything felt. The characters came alive on the page, the setting felt so vivid, Steph’s murder was so heartbreaking, the slang wasn’t edited, and I just kept getting punched in the emotions. I would definitely recommend Let Me Hear a Rhyme, especially to those who like mysteries, hip-hop, and light historical fiction.
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Have you read Let Me Hear a Rhyme? What are your thoughts?