Ned Beauman

What’s the Crack?

Decoded

By

Virgin Books 317pp £20 order from our bookshop

I was disappointed that Jay-Z’s memoir, Decoded, doesn’t go into even more detail about his days in the New York crack cocaine business. As a half-Jewish philosophy graduate raised in Hampstead, I naturally consider myself a bit of an expert on the subject. I watch The Wire, of course; but I also listen to a tremendous amount of coke rap, a subgenre in which the everyday logistics of drug distribution are described with such repetitious attention to detail that it sometimes feels like taking a seat at a corporate training seminar. I’ve never smoked, sold or synthesised crack cocaine, so it’s hard to say why coke rap is so important to me, but at this point I understand the mechanics of Jay-Z’s former vocation considerably better than I understand, for instance, what my flatmate does all day in her marketing job.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • If you want ideas about what to read next, sign up to our free email newsletter, and get book reviews, archive mate… ,
    • 'The heroic male nude could not, I think, be used today to signify civic pride and glory', as Michelangelo’s 'David… ,
    • 'Munch’s later works show us a man liberated from the torments that gave rise to some of the best-known early works… ,
    • 'We read from left to right and from start to finish. Or do we?' Stuart Hannabus considers the merits of reading i… ,
    • Domestic scandal, sexual abuse and serial killers are on the menu in April's crime round-up. revie… ,
    • What did Samuel Johnson, Joshua Reynolds, James Boswell and Edmund Burke all have in common? Clare Bucknell reveal… ,
    • 'Behind Berlusconi’s greasepaint and his rictus grin, the performance of Toni Servillo suggests the affectless holl… ,