In this striking new novel by the critically acclaimed author of Allegedly and Monday’s Not Coming, Tiffany D. Jackson tells the story of three Brooklyn teens who plot to turn their murdered friend into a major rap star by pretending he's still alive.
Brooklyn, 1998. Biggie Smalls was right: Things done changed. But that doesn’t mean that Quadir and Jarrell are cool letting their best friend Steph’s music lie forgotten under his bed after he’s murdered—not when his rhymes could turn any Bed Stuy corner into a party.
With the help of Steph’s younger sister Jasmine, they come up with a plan to promote Steph’s music under a new rap name: the Architect. Soon, everyone wants a piece of him. When his demo catches the attention of a hotheaded music label rep, the trio must prove Steph’s talent from beyond the grave.
As the pressure 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, they need to decide what they stand for or lose all that they’ve worked so hard to hold on to—including each other.
"Jackson scores a bullseye with her passionate homage to Black city life in the late ’90s." (Publishers Weekly, "An Anti-Racist Children's and YA Reading List")
Jackson (Monday's Not Coming) deftly chronicles the timely story of bold young talent gone too soon and the survivors who struggle to keep it alive. The year is 1998 and aspiring teen rap artist Stephon Davis Jr. is dead in Brooklyn, the victim of an apparent street shooting perpetrated by persons unknown. Determined not to let his musical genius die with him, Steph's heartbroken best friends, Quadir and Jarrell, and his grief-stricken sister, Jasmine, hatch a plan to pretend that Steph is still alive in order to turn him into a rap superstar like his recently slain idol, Biggie Smalls. As Quadir and Jarrell hawk Steph's posthumous demos (with lyrics written by Malik-16) and a record label rep shows interest in meeting the young artist, an increasingly haunted Jasmine delves into the suspicious circumstances surrounding her brother's murder. From obscure rap and hip-hop references to invocations of scalding hot combs, Jackson scores a bull's-eye with her passionate homage to black city life in the late '90s, yet it's her earnest takes on creativity, love, and loss that are timeless. Ages 13 up.