omar tyreeTyree Retires

by Taylor Nix
July 2008

After sixteen years and sixteen books in urban fiction, Omar Tyree calls it quits. This is according to an editorial written by the author himself on

Tyree is disappointed with readers nowadays. With street literature gaining popularity, crossing over and landing in the laps of mainstream publishers, it seems that the once loyal readership that Tyree had came to know and enjoy has not grown since the times of Flyy Girl. There isn't a call for refreshing material by serious black writers that are willing to take readers to new heights and boundaries.

This may sound a bit hypocritical with Tyree writing a drug dealer book titled: Capital City, but Tyree says he never planned to dwell within those same topics time after time. "I never intended to remain on those same topics. And I didn't. I moved on to cover a dozen other community issues through my work," he says.

Tyree explains that, "Teri Woods, Vickie Stringer, Nikki Turner, Shannon Holmes, K'wan, and several others, related to my "urban classics" alone, and they began to match it, writing from their own sources of hardcore street knowledge. And I can't knock them for writing their honest stories. I can't knock them for wanting to be pecking orderpublished. I can't knock them for earning an honest living. But after awhile, as dozens of other new writers began to follow in their footsteps, creating more gold-digging, ghetto girl, gangster love, drug-dealer stories, I had to seriously ask myself, "Don't we have some other things to write about it?"

The straw that broke the camel's back was when retailers told his publisher that his latest novel's title wasn't gritty enough for the urban market. Originally, The Last Street Novel was to be titled The Writer. Which sounds better?

Because his contract is running out, Tyree wrote his last adult urban fiction novel titled: Pecking Order, about the innovation and hustle of making legal money. And now, he is moving on.

Tyree ended on this note, "if the only way I can earn a living now in African-American adult fiction is to sell my people the same poison that they've become addicted to, then I quit with my artistic integrity still in tact, while moving on to a more progressive mission."

So let's support Tyree, get ready for Pecking Order.

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Taylor Nix is a writer and photographer for the Urban Book Source. Questions, comments and concerns can be sent to:

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Therone :
Posted 3720 days ago
Davida, I hear you about the money issue. I would hate to assume that he's put all these books out and is not making any money. Most urban lit authors are not making big bucks, so I don't really think this is the issue with his statement. An author who is signed to a publisher and who's book sells for 14.95 may be making 1.20-1.50 a book. Most authors are not doing 8 thousand let alone above 10. So figure the math/yearly. Most publishers are only putting out one of an authors titles a year. And the authors concentrate on their new titles and forget about their last one-so they kill their own books. With this said I cannot see anyone who has been in the business as long as Tyree being jealous. I mean the hype is great, internet exposure etc but cats for the most part are not doing it like that for other cats to lose their head and get jealous. It's not that serious. As far as people not being concerned with what messages lit is conveying and instead saying what they do b/c someone else is making more money than them may in some cases be true but I cannot agree this is so with everyone. I for one know the power of words, whether they be spoken, heard, or on paper. I overcame becoming another statistic b/c I started reading very early on in life. I really do not think I if I started reading stories about the streets instead of books like Superman To Man by J.A. Rogers and other political works I would of been able to overcome a lot of obstacles I faced as a teen into my twenties. I was teaching G.E.D. classes in prison at 18yrs old. I got my G.E.D at 17 the first time I took it without studying. Was I some bookworm in school? Nope? I spent most of the school year before my incarceration cutting out getting money on the block. But I stayed in the books, history, politics, economics etc in my free time. So when I have things to say about the positive or negative affects lit has on people I'm speaking from first hand experience. Growing up as a 5 Percenter I've had many students, many of whom could barely read when I'd meet them. After 6 months of studying, and reading the right books and me being on them drilling them day in day out. You wouldn't even believe the state they were in when I met them. Being exposed to serious literature at any early age helped me develop as an adult in all areas. I've moved onto studies deeper than the Nation now and am at a place that most are not at until they are in their 50's. As far people speaking in the community. I can't speak for anyone else all I can say is that me per say I'm not jealous of anyone. I don't feel there is anyone in life who's done whatever that is bigger than me. There is not anyone I see who is making so much money that anyone should be like damn I can never make as much as them. Puffy amongst others grinded for 10 plus years 18 hour days to get to where their at. Speaking in the community is something I do. Other people do as well, they just may not chose to share it. In fact Sept 17th I will be at South Country Library in Bellport Long Island, NY doing a program for the youth and community at 7pm. Starting Sept 16th I will be teaching a creative writing course for teens at Roosevelt Public library in Long Island every Tuesday for 8wks. The class is also open to adults. I really do not know Mr. Tyree's stand on community issues, so I'm not going to defend his position. I do agree with some points. But I do get tired of hearing that people are bashing every time they state their opinion. If people are confident about what they do then they should be more than happy to explain why they do what they do. I'm always glad to explain why I do what I do b/c I am proud of what I do. When I used to do things I was not proud of I would get upset if someone challenged me about what I was doing. If folks didn't have the slightest agreement somewhat they would not get uptight
Davida Baldwin :
Posted 3723 days ago
Therone, I hear ya! But whether a book is sold in a book store or at a yard sale, the bashing is uneccessary and at the end of the day he and others could care less what these books are conveying to the community, it's about who's making more money than who. Do you ever see the people complaining about the community actually out speaking to the community? Ummm, absolutely not. It's a front and a weak excuse to bow out. Do you think it actually took him 16 years to realize that there are more than three street lit authors in the world and that we have a lot of issues within our community? 16 years ago crack was killing our community, now it's books...??You just gotta laugh. The issue is within themselves, not others. These big wigs need to just face the fact - Urban Lit is the new Crack!
16 years ago he was amongst urban lit authors as well, but I guess it wasn't a big deal back then because books were actually only sold in stores. We had community issues 16 years ago too. So, again the realy issue is money.
Therone Shellman :
Posted 3726 days ago
I agree maybe Mr. Tyree sales are not up there like he would like them to be. But on the whole who's sales are up there like that in the store market. The black book market has expanded mainly due to the street market and urban book sales. So authors who's books are not carried in the streets are not going to see the sales that a lot of authors are seeing..Even most of the urban lit authors lie about their sales..Aside from Terri, Vickie and a few others no one is doing 15 plus unless they themselves are out there moving their books. Some of the authors who are getting the sales in are not talked about b/c their sales are not coming from the store market. So with that said mainstream publishers I'm sure know they cannot expect black authors who's primary market is the stores to sell double digit numbers in the stores alone.
Black Art :
Posted 3731 days ago
Davida Baldwin, what a wonderful way to look at the situation. You had made a great point!
Davida Baldwin :
Posted 3732 days ago
This "STREET LIT is poison" complaint is getting so played out. The problem is that people are looking for STREET LIT to deliver the wrong messages. You don't read Street Lit for self-help and motivation, you don't read street lit to help out the community, you read it for entertainment. If you don't want to be entertained then DO NOT PICK UP STREET LIT - simple as that. What do you expect to get out of a book titled "Dairy of a Thug"? If you are looking for anything other than a diary of what a thug does then you are fooling yourself. You can't blame the author for that? And why does reading and writing only count when it's something positive? Mr. Tyree needs to stop it, naw his books may not be about streets killings and crack, but most of them are about infidelity , playing women, gold-digging, etc... is that what he is encouraging more "black men" to read? I believe he's retiring because his sales aren't good anymore. Otherwise, if writing was his strong passion then he wouldn't quit.
Right On :
Posted 3732 days ago
You right about that! Can't fake that. The cover and synopsis do not go together at all! Like most of these books. But who is that to blame? The author or publisher? Omar may not even wanted these cover. But whatever, no one cares anyway!!!!
Therone Shellman :
Posted 3733 days ago
People are looking at the wrong issues. Its not about urban lit vs any form of other black genre. The argument stems from how lit affects our people. You have people who have and dedicate their lives to building the community or just not being a part of the stereotypes. They're going to question anything which seems to undermine what they do..The issue with Omar Tyree probably is a publicity stunt but who cares b/c for over a decade he's made his negative contributions, and he now sees it. "The Last Pecking Order" is not a good title for urban lit, and the cover is real iffy. The story concept seems interesting but it does not go with the title or cover. Lit is a cheap form of entertainment but its also one of the most powerful tools to educate. All lit within the black experience has its place, and within all genres there is non-sense. Visit: We will be selling independent work from urban lit to history, finance and natural skincare.



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