June 8, 2006

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Never drank the kool-aid, by Toure (Picador, 2006, 402 pages)

Whether itís playing hoops with Prince, chatting openly with Eminem or tailing after Tupac during his sexual assault trial, Toure keeps it real.

Bounced from an internship with Rolling Stone in 1992, Toure quickly became a writer for the mag and, later, a contributing editor. He was CNNís first pop-culture correspondent and host of MTV2ís Spoke Ní Heard.

Heís also been published in the New York Times, The New Yorker, The Best American Essays, the Best American Sports Writing and Da Capo Best Music Writing.

Never drank the kool-aid is a collection of Toureís essays and interviews with black icons, including Biggie Smalls, Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Michael Jordan and Wynton Marsalis.

Toure follows the first rule of good writing by writing what he knows. He is a keen student of popular culture and his work shows insight and understanding of how it changes with the American lifestyle.

Heís also a gifted interviewer, always seeming to find the perfect question that breaks through the usual PR shell celebrities hold up when facing the public and press.

There are 43 chapters in kool-aid, each a separate article or essay, and each one takes you in a different direction. Turn the page and you get inside the head of Eminem, turn another and you are hearing from Colin Powell, turn one more and you are at the funeral of Jam Master Jay.

Best yet, you never get the feeling that Toure is talking down to you or giving too much love to his subjects. His lens is a clear one, only translating the culture into words on a page. A

ó Robert Greene


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