A Journey into the Tempting World of Hip Hop

Dare – Abiola Abram’s debut novel
A Journey into the Tempting World of Hip Hop

Dare is a novel that tells the re-invention story of Maya Gayle Hope, a woman who felt that hip hop no longer loved her until she fell into its world. Maya is a sociologist, she is a bit quirky and geeky, a conscious Black woman that enjoys R&B, jazz, neo-soul and writing political poetry. Her interests include activism and observing human conditions and inclinations. Maya has great plans for the future but is currently working a job she hates, she suffers from low self esteem and has a broken heart after her engagement ends painfully. Athena Jackson, is Maya’s best friend and roommate. Athena is also completely different from Maya. A former cheerleader, Athena loves rap and composes rhymes. She aims to succeed in the music industry using her rap skills.

When unforeseen incidents prevent Athena from attending a talent search, she encourages Maya to take her place in a audition hosted by Shell the Boy Wonder, a relatively young and successful party boy and hip hop mogul. Maya enters and wins the competition using Athena’s lyrics, as a result both friends are immersed into the world of rap and hip hop. Initially reluctant to venture into this new world due to her dislike for the genre, Maya decides to go undercover in order to expose the inner goings of the business. She convinces herself that moving into the domain of hip hop and rap would be an excellent sociological experiment.

Concealed in the hip hop world, Maya becomes Jezebel, a passionate and alluring rapper. With this new persona, Maya rises to the top of the hip hop industry and lands in the spotlight becoming the best female rapper. Maya has to confront the insanity that comes with the hip hop world – the excess, the attention whores, the high-stakes poker forums and the big spenders – even when she finds herself enjoying the music and the men in the industry. Although at first a stereotypical good girl who does not like hip hop, Maya’s sojourn in the hip hop industry leads her to discover herself. She gains confidence and finds that she likes her new life better than her former one. Maya learns that as Jezebel, she is able to grasp the success, peace and love that eluded her when she was just plain Maya.

As both Athena and Maya traverse the hip hop industry, Maya learns new things that conflict with her established sociological view of life. On the other hand, Athena learns that the talent she thought she possessed does not compare with Maya’s. They both have to struggle with the fame and fortune that comes with the entertainment world, as well as the challenges fame poses to their friendship.

Dare is an urban retelling of the Faustian legend that is entirely focused on the hip hop industry. In the German tale, Faust sells his soul to the devil and is seduced and destroyed by temptation. Hip hop, and the world of entertainment in general, represents this devil and the temptation it presents. In Dare, Maya enters into a deal with her personal devil, hip hop, and has to face the consequences of her actions.

Dare features rap battle re-enactments, quotes from female rappers and a character that is modelled after Tupac Shakur. Dare gives a behind-the-scenes look in the glitzy, glamourous, and sometimes violent world of hip hop. The characters, as well as the plot, are believable, entertaining and engaging.

Dare is Abiola Abram’s debut novel. Abrams is best knowns for her work as the host of The Best Shorts on the Black Entertainment Television (BET). According to Abiola, the title is an acronym for “Dreams Are Real For Everyone” as it tells the story of daring to create new narratives.

Dare is a difficult book to label. Abrams has referred to it as “chick lit” while others have called it the “Black Bridget Jones’ Diary” and “street lit” due to its hip hop themes and setting. Regular readers of street and urban fiction may find Dare a departure from the usual. Disregarding any labels, Dare is fundamentally a human story about the metamorphosis of a woman trying to find her way in life. With themes that include the complications of friendship and the continuous journey of self discovery, Dare is a hip hop story that is unlike the norm.

 

About the columnist:

After many years tied to a desk working in an administrative role over in New York State, Imogen Reed decided to cut the chord and become a freelance writer. Seeking a clean break she chose to return to the home of her ancestors and settle in London where she now lives with her partner, her young children and their lovely pets.

Many of her interests are socially conscious and she prefers to rescue animals rather than buy from a pet shop. As a result Imogen has an old parrot and two rescue terriers at the moment and has helped rehabilitate racing greyhounds in the past.

Imogen has been lucky enough to find work as a writer for five years now as well as completing her Literature and Creative Writing qualifications. She tries to give back to the community hosting a writers group at her local library where she helps other budding freelance writers hone their skills and discuss their upcoming projects. They help each other out with their writing ideas and editing as well as having a good time.

Outside of her local community Imogen is best known for her prolific guest writing and has featured on many high quality blogs covering topics ranging from technology and design to organic gardening and photography.

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