Acclaimed music writer Nik Cohn’s love of hip-hop goes back to its beginnings, and his love of New Orleans even further, to when he passed through the Big Easy on tour with The Who and discovered a place with a magic that never failed to seize him. On the surface he’s the least likely candidate for a rap impresario. But with his signature charm and passion, he plunges headfirst into the wards, clubs, and projects of New Orleans, opening up a world closed to most outsiders: a journey into the heart of the hip-hop dream, and into larger question of racial identity in America. Written before Hurricane Katrina struck (and published here with an afterword that chronicles how Katrina altered the lives of those he met) Triksta now stands as an elegy to a city, its music, and its people.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of eBook: Triksta|
|Release Date: 03-12-2009|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
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On a bright, chill January afternoon in 2000, I was strolling on Rampart Street, thinking of the pizza at Mama Rosa’s, when a black male aged about ten walked up and spat at me, splattering my new Kenneth Cole leather jacket.
I have been obsessed with New Orleans for most of my life; it is the place I’ve loved best on earth. In recent years, however, it has turned violent and distressful, and getting spat on by a child, though mortifying, was hardly headline news. Another time, I’d have muttered a few choice curses and gone on my way. Only, this was not a good moment. I have hepatitis C, a virus that destroys the liver and feels, at least in my case, like permanent jet lag. For the most part, I’ve learned to handle it, but there are days when it handles me. The usual checks and balances cease to function, and I thrash about, untethered, driven by urges I don’t understand and can’t control.
This time I outdid myself. Instead of working out my spleen on some extra pepperoni at Mama Rosa’s, I swung around and walked over to the Iberville project. Not a good idea. I had gone there the first day I ever spent in New Orleans, in 1972, and it had felt welcoming then, but the climate had changed. No outsider, white or black, with a lick of sense would choose to go strolling through the Iberville these days unless they had good reason. In my leather jacket, fat with credit cards, I was asking for trouble. Seeking it out, in fact.
Behind abandoned hulk of Krauss’s department store, I headed into the heart of the project. A few strides brought me to a blind corner. When I turned it, the sunlight was shut out. A few more strides, and