It is the spring of 1989 in New York City when Jill Dodge, a post-punk rocker from Texas, finally gets her big promotion at Mega Big Records. She is thrust into a race to find a gritty, urban rapper before the “Gangsta” trend passes their label by. As Jill and her mostly middle-class coworkers search for the next big rap star, they fluctuate between alliances and rivalries, tripping over the stereotypes of race, class, and musical genre. They work to promote their current roster of acts as well as the new rap artist they sign to a contract. It turns out, he may not be what they expected. Full of original lyrics and wit, Start With the Backbeat is a compelling examination of the nuances of class, race, and culture in America―which are sometimes ridiculously serious.
Everyone who knows me knows – I LOVE MUSIC. I love hearing, playing, creating, singing and dancing to music (the last two in private only, of course), so when I saw this book was a “musical novel”, I couldn’t wait to start reading it!
Start with the Backbeat: A Musical Novel by Garinè B. Isassi is a story about an idealistic young woman named Jill Dodge and her journey into the music industry when it was at its multi-platinum peak. I’ll be honest – the book is set in the 1980’s, which really, really brought me back to the day, and that was fun! Even though I was never any kind of rap or rapper fan back then (or even now), the story and it’s references to the 1980’s were funny, familiar and brought back some serious memories!
Jill is fresh out of college full of ambition and raring to conquer the music industry from the bottom up. She lands herself a race with her co-workers to find a “gangsta” rapper artist for Mega Big Records before the opportunity passes the company by, putting them in the dark with the other record studios and the new music being released by them. Jill and her co-workers try to work to promote their current artists as well as the new rapper they find and sign to the label. The story line is interesting – not anything deep – but this book was a fun, quick read – especially if you love music.
I found the characters to be well-developed, diverse and realistic and I found the story an enjoyable read. If you loved the ’80’s, you will enjoy the story line to this book. You will also enjoy the lyrics and poetic verses written within the book, and it will likely remind you of your “back in the day”. It is clear that the author is knowledgeable about the music industry too.
You can pick up this book over at Amazon HERE!
Garinè B. Isassi is a former singer/songwriter who grew up with one foot in Texas and the other in New Jersey. A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, she is a lover of music, chocolate, and altruistic sarcasm.
She currently lives in Maryland, where she works full time in marketing communications, is the Workshops Chair for the Gaithersburg Book Festival, writes when everyone else is asleep, and lives with her husband, three kids, a cat, a dog, and a gecko. It’s the gecko that sent her over the edge.
Thanks to BookSparks for the advance reader’s copy of this book in exchange for my honest review as part of their April Showers Blog Tour -#itsrainingbooks!