Cruz, whose first novel (Straight Outta Crompton, 1992) won a Nilon Award for Excellence in Minority Fiction, breaks no new ground in this, his seconda rock- and rap-inspired depiction of physical violence and sexual thrust-and-parry among the mean streets of Harlem and dangerous nooks and crannies of Central Park. A homeless girl named Zu-Zu talks back to a menacing street thug named Chops and his scruffy minions, and wearily discourages the romantic illusions of Cruz's unnamed narrator, whose eventual loss of Zu-Zu, and more, is leadenly foreshadowed. That's about all that happens. The characters pretty much are their attitudes and reflex phrases (which include numbingly reiterated condemnations of ``the rich and powerful and the media''). It's not without rhythm and force, and any novel that features a character named Sterling Silver can't be called devoid of wit. But its plotless haranguing will make many readers tune out. This may be a book that should be heard, not read.