Dirty Version, The: By Buddha Monk and Mickey Hess, 237 pgs. By Jimmy

Guilty admission: Despite being a fan of hip hop since the days when Sugarhill Gang ruled the airwaves, my Wu-Tang-affiliated collection has been largely comprised of the first two Gravediggaz releases and a Killah Priest album. Sure, I bought a copy of Enter the 36 Chambers when it first came out, but some asshole stole it outta my car before I had a chance to listen to it and for some lame reason I never got around to repurchasing it. Point is, my experience with ‘em is limited.

That being said, this book about an aspect of a subject I freely admit I know little about, was quite an engaging read. Told from the perspective of one of his closest friends and collaborators, this tome recounts Dirty’s life—his early days and the Wu-Tang’s origins, their collective rise, Dirty’s struggles to juggle family, dalliances, connections to the old neighborhood, and the toll sudden wealth and fame took on all of the above—as well as Buddha’s history as a Wu-Tang affiliate and hip hop producer and performer, with honesty. Fans and heads will relish the tales of the Clan’s beginnings and first-person accounts of the creation of their albums and hits, while the casual reader will find a tale of a complicated person trying to find himself while in the unique position of becoming a cultural touchstone. Monk and Hess keep the writing informal, allowing the tale to unfold with a tone more conversational than conventional. The read also had the side effect of me going out and rectifying the 36 Chamberssituation, which is currently bumping on my stereo as I type this. –Jimmy Alvarado (Mickey Hess)