LET ME HEAR A RHYME
Tiffany D. Jackson
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Katherine Tegen
Release date: May 21st 2019
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.
Headline: Three Kids From Brooklyn Pull Off the Biggest Heist in Hip-Hop History
Let Me Hear a Rhyme was a delight! It had mystery, romance, friendship, and music. The multiple perspective narrative was so so well done that I couldn’t help but b swept in by Quadir, Jarrell, and Jasmine’s POVs–and Steph, who we got to know mostly from his music and the lyrics presented throughout the novel. They were all so real and complex and well developed and I loved every single one of them tbh.
The plot was so! tightly woven! Not a thread was left behind and I loved the way Jackson put the puzzle pieces together. The way she used language and described Brooklyn in the 90s, with all its hip-hop history and slangs was also so cool and such a rich part of the novel. It was a reality totally different from my upbringing and I really appreciated getting to know it a little bit, even more so with the helpful Glossary at the end of the novel.
The pace was a bit slow for me at times? Things slowed down quite a bit during the mid-point and took a little while to pick up, so it felt like things weren’t progressing as much as they should. The last 30% or so were so so so good, though, and the way everything came together was *chef’s kiss*. I loved how hopeful the final chapters were and how Quadir, Jasmine, and Jarrell achieve their goal: to have Steph be heard.
I definitely recommend Let Me Hear a Rhyme to anyone looking for books written by Black authors and that portray Black youth. If you enjoy stories focused on friendship and with some cool lyrics, and a little romance, please check this out! The complex characters and tight plot make for a really entertaining and, at times, emotional story.