Grammy-nominated rapper Phanatik has always had a way with words. The Cross Movement Records artist put his unique storytelling ability into book form in his new novel, The City of Allegory.”
Phanatik’s first self-published book, The Death of Hip-Hop, Morals & Marriage, was a non-fiction work exploring the roots of social ills in the urban community. His new book, a fictional account, happened almost by accident.
“I actually didn’t plan on a second book,” said Phanatik, who started writing the project for his website. “As I started writing the first metaphor, I couldn’t stop. I kept writing, and I was like, ‘Wait, this is more like a chapter for a book than something you just throw up on the Web.’ Once I wrote the first chapter, before I knew it, I had [Chapter 2] and I had [Chapter 3], and I could just see the plot stretching.”
With two books to his credit, Phanatik is a pioneer of sorts in the Christian Hip Hop genre in terms of creating resources other than music aimed at the hip-hop community.
The 226-page book introduces readers to Trumaine, a/k/a Tru-man, as he leaves the inner-city to look for a “soul food” restaurant. As the story unravels, Trumaine begins to learn who his true friends are as some people aid and others oppose his journey to find food for his soul.
Phanatik believes that the book, much like hip-hop culture, has universal appeal. He’s received positive feedback from three different generations of people about City of Allegory.
“That’s the funny thing about our generation and our culture,” Phanatik said. “There really is no one target. Hip-hop has spanned now two generations and almost every culture. When you think about a Hip Hop influenced person writing, they’re going to have a bunch of people in view. I had a bunch of people in view.”
The rapper has recently worked in Philadephia’s high schools, and he rejects the myth that urban kids don’t read.
“I’ve had a 13-year-old that’s failing literature tell me that he read the book in two days,” Phanatik said. “People say that urban youth don’t read. When I go into the schools, I’m seeing kids reading all these smutty novels. It’s basically hood porn. So I’m like, ‘Urban youth read. People with positive motives and messages are not writing the kind of stuff urban youth want to read.’ I figured I’d do something to address that market.”
Both of Phanatik’s books, including City of Allegory are available here.