Police Rappers The Slick Boys Offer Hope in the Windy City

A Ten-Point Plan to Rescue Your Community by Three Chicago Cops Who Are Making It Happen 

A sobering yet uplifting look at life in the Chicago projects, written by three who escaped it: Eric Davis, James Martin, and Randy Holcomb. Together, they are the Slick Boys, three plainclothes cops from Chicago who grew up in notorious projects like Cabrini Green, Rockwell Gardens, and Ida B. Welts. Such addresses often prove fatal to young black men in the City of Big Shoulders, but these three, friends since childhood, formed a rap group whose songs celebrated survival and religion. Their music gained popularity around the city, and all three became police officers—in a town not known for its kindness to minorities—and continue to visit the city’s project to spread their message.

Their grim life stories, which open the book, manage to avoid treacly sentiment. Their families share common tales of death, abandonment, and addiction, but these woes only inspire them to help others.

In this book, the three introduce a simple guide for cities to adopt in order to arrest violence at its root, with police officers used as a bridge between a civil society and communities at risk. Written with the help of People magazine staffer Luchina Fisher, the language in the book is fairly straightforward and slangy throughout, but the ideas are deceptively simple. The authors’ rules are not exactly groundbreaking: “Lead by Example” and “Be a Ray of Hope” are shopworn cliches. But here these notions come alive with ideas about good parenting, good citizenship, and optimism. Their enthusiasm is infectious.

While they don’t offer solutions to huge issues like racism and poverty, the Slick Boys present an attitude that is both reasonable (“Don’t play to the stereotypes”) and intelligent (“You’re a slave if you’re not educated”). A wise and believable mandate for surviving an inner-city childhood.

THE SLICK BOYS: A Ten-Point Plan to Rescue Your Community by Three Chicago Cops Who Are Making It Happen by Eric Davis, Randy Holcomb & James Martin (Simon & Schuster ISBN: 0-684-83300-X)

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Rebecca Kurson

Rebecca Kurson writes about literature, pop culture, television, science fiction and music. Her work has appeared in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Observer, The Federalist and Rodale's Organic Life.

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