An engaging account of the friendship between a young journalist and a reformed gangster who is trying to make it in the music world. In 1992, the author met Big K at the famous Newyorican CafÃ‡ on Manhattan's Lower East Side and was immediately taken by the charismatic man's powerful rhymes, which mixed Brooklyn and Jamaican slang with smatterings of Spanish. Though early on Century is put off by K's violent temper, he pursues the friendship. As the two grow close, K tells Century about his past: an abusive stepmother, a father away on business most of the time. As a little boy in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, K dreamed of becoming an airline pilot until he was seduced by the respect others gave to his brutal older brother, a gangster who once threw a friend down an elevator shaft for accidentally killing a pet canary. After a long spell in jail that began when he is 11, K joined the dangerous Franklin Avenue Posse, which ran most of the drug deals in Crown Heights. However, when Century meets them, K and most of his friends are trying to go straight, holding down double shifts as security guards, trying to become the next Tupac or Snoop Doggy or to just find a better place to raise their children than the crack-filled projects. For K, at least, the transition is not an easy one, and the years of well-honed street instincts keep threatening to drag him down. Century does an admirable job of capturing the rhythms and vibrancy of K's speech, and his descriptions of K's experiences in jail bring home with force a culture where going to a high-security prison has the prestige that in another context woudl accrue from attending an Ivy League college.