mike harperMike Harper

by Seth "Soul Man" Ferranti
November 2009

New writer Mike Harper arrives on the scene with a well scripted tale of one boy’s plight to gain mastery over privation. Though a work of fiction, he writes of this common occurrence in our inner cities with uninhibited exposure to graphic truths. The story begins in Miami, claiming it to be “the city of growing hustlers.” As a result of limited options and no proper guidance the book’s main character Chino, finds himself succumbing to that precept. The wretchedness of being part of society’s underprivileged is what mandates the calling. Chino answers and he answers hard. Bringing along some equally disadvantaged youths, Chino ascends through street life, becoming a legendary as the historic American gangsters of our time. Street Raised: The Beginning is sure to solidify Harper as a recognized name in the Urban-Street Literature genre.

Harper writes from a prison cell. Once a co-founder and aspiring young rapper on the Southern-based Badland Records. (Also home to Plex Nitty, Black Boy, Chrizac, DirtySouth Players, and Big Will) The future looked promising for Mike “Chico” Harper and label, until in 1997 a special federal task force was put together to arrest a loose band of childhood associates (erroneously dubbed), The Boobie Boys. With the label now struggling and short on its top artist, management reached out to Mike Harper to pen his life’s story. “People were really interested in my situation. Street Raised is not my actual life story, but it is what I was willing to provide, its close enough,” said Harper.

This book has been making its way through the underground scene for the past three years. “This is our fourth run with Street Raised. It’s that book in the hood and prison system. So we decided to have it edited again, redesign the cover and go mainstream with it,” said Tracey Carter, Co-President of Badland Publishing. Here is the Mike Harper Urban Book Source interview.

Who are you, where are you from and what's your current situation?
I'm a person that refuses to give up. I believe in being positive and productive at all times. Under any circumstances. Even in my darkest hour. I'm from MIYAYO. LIT River representa'. Currently I'm a decade into a life sentence. My fight for freedom continues. At this very moment I'm awaiting an answer from the district court of appeals.

streetsraisedWhy did you write Street Raised?
I was propositioned to do a story about my criminal case. I didn't thing the time was right for that, so instead I used the opportunity to pen out Street Raised: The Beginning. It's a similar circus event. Based on my realities but exaggerated for maximum entertainment. The actual book on my criminal case will be coming after my legal affairs are resolved.

What is the book about?
Realities inside our inner cities. Most importantly though the immediate options we face in the hood when we're searching for a solution to deprivation, which is way too often selling dope, robbing, or stealing. From a female's perspective; selling sex. hooking a d-boy or scheming. Consequently, violence is automatically attached to these options (or perceived solutions). I paint a graphic picture of the details involved with this truth. Street Raised: The Beginning is a classic because of these graphic truths that I depict.

What is up with Badland Publishing?
They're new in the publishing game, but it's an old company. Music was initially their thing.

How did you get down with this publisher?
I had a previous rapport with them form the music business. I'd like to think that my talent was impressionable, which is why when the company decided to do books they reached out to me. They were amongst the first to proposition me to script a book on my criminal case, so when I decide to pen it that's who'll publish it.

What do you think of the street lit game?
The street lit game is much like the music industry. It provides equal opportunity for our culture of people to express their talent. For me it's an outlet to go on doing what I love, which is articulating my views on our culture. Because of my situation I can never give the world a rap album. Even if I win my pending appeal I'm too old for a rap career. But in this similar game of street lit I can go on presenting my craft without any pressure of fitting the mold. It's a vehicle to stay in the game.

What's next for you as an author?
I've written hundreds of songs. I've written four books, Incorporated is coming next. Perhaps in January 2010. My next project is penning out screenplays. That doesn't mean that the books will stop. I have several more already visualized in my head. I'll definitely keep the heat coming. I'm just planning to broaden my writing.

Describe your writing style?
As I referenced earlier I think "graphic truths" describes my art best.

What authors do you admire?
There's a few that I can say I like, such as Sister Souljah, Noire, David Baldacci (he doesn't write street lit). As far as admire...you know I'm a big fan of my lil brother Plex' pen. It'll be fair to say I admire Walter Mosely and of course Iceberg Slim and Donald Goines.

Anything else?
Badland Publishing "Ain't Nobody Pen'in Like Us Man!" That's a true bill. I set the standard with Street Raised. Plex is about to take it over the top with Boo Baby: The Secret of Sweet Donnie Mac. Check for it. And for those who didn't believe, who quit and thought the valve of a man depletes when he's incarcerated ... may you awaken one day and realize that some of the most valuable gifts are found in the center of confinement. Such as a diamond inside coal, a pearl inside an oyster, or man inside a prison. It's your loss.

Seth Ferranti is a contributing writer for The Urban Book Source and accomplished journalist having written articles for Don Diva, Slam, King, Feds and many more. View more of his articles at: www.gorillaconvict.com

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