A former NYPD member teams up with journalist Diehl for a gritty memoir chronicling Parker’s transformation from a regular cop pounding the city streets to a hard-bitten lead detective in the “Rap Intelligence Unit.”
Crime and hip-hop have been inexorably linked ever since the genre emerged from the graffiti-covered New York City streets in the late 1970s. Parker, who grew up in an urban, African-American neighborhood, was an ardent hip-hop fan, but he wound up enforcing the laws flouted by many of the folks creating the music he loved. Delineating this process, and some of his most famous cases, the text at first favors a pulpy prose style, as if the coauthors were paying homage to hack crime fiction. (“Tersely we said our goodbyes. A.J. had other people to call. So did I.”) This affectation is quickly shed as Parker gets down to business, rattling off some visceral recollections of his early days on the force. Hip-hop was on the rise just as his career was kicking into gear, and he soon realized that many of the perps he was dealing with on the streets, such as Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff of the World Famous Supreme Team, were the same guys who were tearing up the charts. Things only escalated from there, and Parker was asked to head up the newly formed Rap Intelligence Unit in the ’90s, a response to the slayings of Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G. The former cop believes both these cases were solvable, but bungled by the police—a common theme to which Parker returns throughout the book, giving the impression that he was often fighting a lone battle against hip-hop-related crime. In a neat touch, the book ends with a few anecdotes from his post-NYPD career as head of a security firm whose clients are, naturally, some of the biggest figures in the rap world.
Entertaining, and likely to hold strong appeal for hip-hop fans.