Written by: Wesley “Godfather” Hunter
The West is the new frontier. Hip Hop lit has taken a course quite similar to that of hip hop music in the 1980’s and 90’s. While the South has been a strong participant, like rap music in the 1980’s, urban lit first saw its real market on the streets of the Eastern shore. Where writers such as Teri Woods, Vickie Stringer, Relentless Aaron and others literally took to the streets on a hand-to-hand sales campaign and kicked the doors open to help create and, for the most part, define an entire industry. All the while, the West has been all but silent, with no big names in the game to truly speak of.
Not to be ignored, the West Coast has produced such authors as Stanley “Tookie” Williams (Crips co -founder and author of BLUE RAGE BLACK REDEMPTION), Sanyika Shakur aka Monster Kody (author of MONSTER and several others), Cupcake Brown (A PIECE OF CAKE), Colton Simpson (INSIDE THE CRIPS), Cynthia Miller(IN RARE FORM), Terrell “Loko” Wright (HOME OF THE BODY BAGS), Frederick Staves (GANGSTA: SOME TALK IT, I LIVE IT), myself (TRANSITIONS IN THE HOOD) and even Freeway Rick, among others. However, it is importantly noted, that the above are all autobiographical accounts. Aside from myself, there were literally NO urban fiction writers in the game. Until recently, that is.
First, there were authors such as Biz E. Bee (BE LIKE THAT SOMETIMES), Nyerere Jase (THE END RESULTS OF A SNITCH) and my own lesser-known Print on Demand (POD) items published through an online company called Infinity Publishing [that’s a-whole-nother article] and then came along a young fiery up-start by the name of Terry L. Wroten.
Though Terry was in California’s New Folsom maximum security prison, at the time, Terry was young (23 I believe), handsome, well-built, knowledgeable about the industry, fresh off of the streets (about to return to them) and, quite importantly, Terry stayed on top of his game, and while networking on social-media sites such as Myspace and Facebook. Terry met Kwan as well as several other authors, he kept up with the trends and was eventually signed to Kwan’s own Black Dawn Inc., just two weeks before going home. Terry subsequently went on to release TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A. and several other urban novels, officially becoming (TLW) The Leader of the West, in that he was the first, true young street cat signed to/with a known/established urban writer/publishing company, and several others, including Nyerere Jase (G Street Chronicles) and myself (DcBookdiva Publications and Ben Official Books) have gone on to follow.
The West is now wide awake. Sitting in prison since 1989 writing and begging for any and everyone to give me a chance, many inmates would ask why I wasn’t signed, all the while, I was continuously being overlooked, and ignored, until it truly began to create a hopeless depressing feeling, as I watched so many lesser talents just hop on and pass me by, all because they had the resources or could simply get out and about, while I remained trapped with an energy bordering on combusting. I threw money at the problem, made [many costly mistakes] and still I couldn’t find my way. Yet, I continued to write and believe I’d one day have my day. I amassed an arsenal and, finally, the playing was leveled. Ebooks came, the industry imploded and publishers were everywhere actively scouting talent, willing to take on new challenges and consider new approaches but, I’m one of the lucky ones, for, there are still many trapped souls just waiting their turn. But, this is a West Coast tale so let’s get to it.
With the Facebook/Ebook thing so easy and accessible, all of those young West Coast urban authors finally had somewhere to turn to get on, or, more appropriately, they no longer had a need to wait in line or hope to be discovered by some non-existent West Coast brand. Instead of waiting, they began putting themselves on. And, this is how the West was won.
Our stories, our streets, our slang, our gangs, our troubles, our world. Just as hip hop showed with “Gangsta Rap”, the West simply has a style of its own. A different structure (or lack thereof) and an all out sense of lawlessness that only those of us from the West can rightly capture.
l look now and I see upwards of 60 young West Coast authors doing their thing and though only Nyerere Jase, JDee Cooper [of Da Lynch Mob] (Ghettoheat Publishing), Chanel Jones (Peach Dollhouse/SBR) and I (as far as I know) presently remain signed to already established non-West Coast brands, many are self-published and/or building their own brands. There’s a storm on the horizon y’all. We’re quaking, on the West, with that chronic. We’re coming and we’re coming hard, and, just like we did with the rap industry, in the 90’s, we intend to make our mark. So, when you hear that rumbling and you don’t know what to do, stop and salute.
Welcome to the Wild Wild West.
Meet West Coast pioneer Nyerere Jase. Nyerere came hard, with nothing but a book and a dream. He had no one to guide him or direct him, but, he gave his all to the cause, hitting the block, dumping one book at a time, learning as he went. Til, finally, becoming frustrated and losing focus. In December 2013, Nyerere signed on with G-Street Chronicles, and, when asked why, he humbly stated, quite simply: “I needed help, I needed a family to support me and I felt that G-Street was that fit”. After this interview, Nyerere went on to turn himself in to begin serving a 10 year bid. So, let’s stand up you guys, let’s help this brother who’s done all he could to help himself. He’s going to be in prison for a while, and, every little bit we can share will count something MAJOR. Will you do your part? Stand up and show out! Now meet the man himself.
Godfather: How long have you been writing?
Nyerere: I have been a writer for 10 years.
Godfather: What made you start writing?
Nyerere: My final years in prison. I became board and wrote as an escape.
Godfather:I noticed that you started off self-published. What made you first go that route?
Nyerere: The challenge. The millions I thought I would make.
Godfather: Did you invest a lot, in the beginning?
Nyerere: It costs me zero dollars to publish my first book Gangsta Jake: The End Result of a Snitch, which I revamped to She Did It for A Gangsta for marketing purposes.
Godfather: Many say it’s best to self-publish. What made you decide to sign?
Nyerere: I signed for exposure and the fact that I’m on my way to prison.
Godfather: Who did you sign with? When did you sign? How did it happen? How did you reach them?
Nyerere: I was contacted By George Hudson Sherman Ceo of G Street Chronicle Via Facebook regarding a book deal. I ultimately Signed with George because I felt comfortable with every step of our negotiations. He and Shawna have a winning combination that has been proven to work; that was a key fact that made it easy for me to sign. I signed December 13,2013.
Godfather: Besides yourself, Terry L. Wroten, (originally signed with Black Dawn Inc.), JDee Cooper [of Da Lynch Mob] (Ghettoheat), Chanel Jones (SBR) and myself (currently signed with DCBookdiva Publications and Ben Official Books) are you aware of any other West Coast author picked up by an established urban publishing company?
Nyerere: I heard of Black Dawn Inc., but not the other company’s that you mentioned. Freeway Rick is signed, but most Authors from west coast are self published.
Godfather: How many books have you written?
Nyerere: Five books.
Godfather: Where can your books be found?
Nyerere: Amazon.com, Barnesandnobles.com and smashwords.com.
Godfather: What’s your opinion about the future of the West Coast book scene?
Nyerere: I feel the west coast market is basically untapped however do have great potential.We are in a uptrend, more and more authors are getting on board with the west coast movement , the Eastsiders and Rick “Freeway” Ross both just dropped books.
Godfather:What do you see for the future of urban lit. As a whole?
Nyerere: The future of urban fiction has a lot of potential for movies, plays, video games, etc.
Godfather:What advice would you give someone trying to get in the game?
For new authors, just know that your first book will more than likely not get you rich. Stay the course have a solid game plan and know that its going to cost you some of your personal money to get exposure.
Godfather: You’ve had some recent legal troubles how much time you facing? What’s the charge?
Nyerere: I am facing 30 to life under the California 3 strikes law for residential burglary.
Godfather:Final thoughts: what have you got in the oven? What should we expect? Anything else you might want to share?
Nyerere: Currently working on Jase publishing house , G Street Chronicles imprint. First author JPH will be releasing is Toure Jase his story is entitled “The Opposite of a Square”.
How can you be reached?
Nyerere: You can contact me at Facebook, Twitter, instagram and LinkedIn
GODFATHER” Hunter is an incarcerated author from Los Angeles, Ca. He has written several books covering a variety of genres, to include self-help/how-to/advisory, autobiography, poetry, urban romance, erotica and street lit. Godfather has even taught urban lit during his many years of incarceration. He makes an added effort to lace his writings with history, social-political consciousness and other such pearls of wisdom while penning in a style which many have compared to the likes of James Patterson, John Grisham and Michael Connelly.