Omar Tyree, New York Times and Blackboard bestselling author and winner of the 2001 NAACP Image Award for literary fiction, delivers a powerful story of two childhood friends lured into the sex, drugs, money, and madness of R&B stardom.
Darin Harmon and John Williams, two good church boys from Charlotte, North Carolina, have been best friends since they were toddlers. Both use their God-given talents to breeze through high school, and both are awarded scholarships to North Carolina A&T State University: Darin for football, and John for music.
During their sophomore year, John, the introverted momma's boy, showcases his musical genius in a homecoming talent show that changes both their lives forever. John's romantic crooning earns him the nickname "Loverboy." As his R&B career begins, he asks Darin to tag along as his manager. Darin wants no part in the music scene and has big dreams of his own, but when he suffers a season-ending football injury, he finally agrees to hop on the "Loverboy" bandwagon. The two set out to turn John into an R&B superstar. For Darin, dealing with John's rising fame and fortune proves a difficult challenge. The more the two adapt to the dangerous celebrity lifestyle of big-time money, fast women, and recreational drugs, the harder it gets for both of them to "just say no!"
With its page-turning narrative and irresistible characters, Just Say No! is destined to become another urban-American classic from Omar Tyree.
The pitfalls of success swallow up a young soul singer in Tyree's latest, a buddy story about a pair of African-Americans from North Carolina who rocket to stardom together after leaving college to enter the music business. Darin Harmon is the narrator, a college football prospect who sees his career go up in smoke after an injury and decides to manage his best friend, a talented singer and musician named John Williams. Williams comes from a church music background, but when he starts singing and writing songs, the romantic "Loverboy" persona he invents quickly lands him a record deal, a concert tour and a series of bestselling singles and albums. Williams can't resist temptation, though, and his problems start with pot addiction and slowly progress to include increasingly dangerous sexual adventures, leaving Harmon with the dubious task of trying to keep his best friend's hedonism under the media radar. Eventually Harmon tires of Williams's antics, and when he quits to get married, raise a family and become a producer, the pace of Loverboy's slide accelerates until he finally lands in a Maryland halfway house after a drug arrest. Tyree narrates the somewhat predictable story at a slick, superficial level, relying on at least a dozen rather redundant sex scenes to keep the plot moving, although he does delve briefly into Williams's troubled relationship with his extremely religious but hypocritical mother. The sex, drugs and rock-and-roll angle will seem familiar to white readers, but Tyree's major contribution here is framing Williams' efforts in the context of other soul, rap and R&B artists to produce an informative and entertaining variation on a formulaic music yarn.