Straight Up Rapping

Young Adult - Coming of Age
134 Pages
Reviewed on 05/23/2024
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jennie More for Readers' Favorite

Straight up Rapping by Carol Denise Mitchell is the story of two high school graduates, Dirty and Clean, who immediately hit the big time fresh out of school when they sign a $40-million music contract. But before this good fortune, Dirty and Clean did not have it all together, robbing unsuspecting victims to make ends meet and buy studio time. On one fateful day, they rob old Aunty Peete on the bus. Little did they know that this misdeed would follow them for the rest of their lives, as Aunty Peete’s agoraphobic son, Botox, is known as a maniac and killer, especially to anyone who crosses his loving mother and only companion. Botox’s insidious revenge intrudes into every part of Dirty and Clean’s life. A mistake they made in adolescence threatens the demise of Dirty, Clean, and anyone close to them.

Straight Up Rapping by Carol Denise Mitchell is absorbing and entertaining. Mitchell perfectly captured the voice of each of the characters. The characters' dialect was unique and aligned well with the character descriptions, which brought them to life for me. Mitchell uses lingo that is unique and amusing. I enjoyed how Mitchell stayed on topic. She consistently tied all the characters' experiences to the bus robbery incident. Her relentless focus on the robbery made me home in on her core message about the importance of making good choices and the consequences of bad ones. The book portrays a crucial message to young people at a turning point in their lives using fascinating and relatable characters.

Courtnee Turner Hoyle

In Straight Up Rapping by Carol Denise Mitchell, Daryle "Dirty" Ryse and Raymond Richard "Clean" Washington have been friends since they were youngsters. Even though they know they're destined for fame, the two adolescents involve themselves in a criminal act just before their high school graduation. Dirty tries to make restitution to the woman he and Clean robbed, but her agoraphobic son holds a grudge against the boys who assaulted his mother. Dirty and Clean live the rapper lifestyle, giving their families the money they always needed. Even though they don't have to dodge bullets flying through their homes or make homemade fries to survive, they still have to worry about the vengeful man who is determined to settle the score for the night they robbed his mother.

Carol Denise Mitchell tempts her audience with the allure of the rapper's lifestyle. She spins the story of two boys who climb out of less-than-desirable circumstances and make drastic strides in the world of music. Dirty gets the idea for his biggest hit after he hears a fight between his mother and father, and he sets his sights on his future. Mitchell reveals the effects of his fame and how deeply his father's abandonment affects him. She shows the raw truth, complete with all the drama and heartfelt moments. Readers will feel like they are transported to Oakland, living alongside Dirty and Clean as they try to help their families make ends meet and buy time in the studio through their crimes. The narrative conveys themes of forgiveness, redemption, acceptance, and retribution, making it a unique story. Readers who enjoy books with strong characters will like Straight Up Rapping.

Alicia DeBerry

Can you gain redemption if you regret mistakes you made when you were young, or will the past haunt you forever? Carol D. Mitchell addresses this question in Straight Up Rapping. Rapper Dirty and his best friend Clean grew up in a ghetto in East Oakland. Struggling to survive, as they dreamed of making it big in the music industry, they made a terrible mistake in their youth. The consequences follow them into adulthood. Dirty, a survivor of his father’s abuse, used his experiences to create motivational raps with the help of Clean, his beatmaker. Now, as a featured artist with Sony and one of the highest-paid young artists elevating the rap industry, will they be able to keep everything together as old grudges resurface? 
Carol D. Mitchell has written an excellent coming-of-age drama that is thrilling and has fast-paced action, some romance, and so much more in Straight Up Rapping. The plot is gritty and addresses some social issues concerning poverty, domestic violence, drugs, alcohol abuse, and mental illness. The suspense was intense as I anticipated whether Botox, the vengeful son after Dirty and Clean, would succeed in his plans. I was excited and anticipated the success of Dirty and Clean's dreams coming true. Just when you think everything will be okay, the surprise ending blew my mind. I thought about the importance of making positive and wise daily decisions and that you will have to face the consequences of your actions no matter how much time has passed.