Chapters 1–5

Bri aspires to be a rapper — but to make her dreams come true, she'll need to overcome family hardships, prejudice at school, and misconceptions about her art.

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Explore the Words

definitions & notes only words
  1. sermon
    an address of a religious nature
    Occasionally she goes “Mmm” at some line the same way my grandma does during a sermon.
  2. ghetto
    a poor densely populated city district
    Just because I live in the “ ghetto” doesn’t mean I dodge bullets every day.
  3. vital
    urgently needed; absolutely necessary
    “You’ve been so focused on rapping that your grades have dropped drastically this semester. Forget that junior-year grades are vital for college admissions. Forget that you once told me you want to get into Markham or Howard.”
  4. lollygag
    loaf about and waste time; dawdle
    “Go on now,” Long calls. “Don’t be lollygagging around here.”
  5. gospel
    a genre of evangelical Christian music
    Gospel music blares in the house.
  6. complexion
    the coloring of a person's face
    I don’t have Jay’s high cheekbones or her lighter eyes, and I only get her complexion when I stay out in the summer sun all day.
  7. ensue
    take place or happen afterward or as a result
    But see, Popkenchurch is problematic, and not because of digestive drama that may ensue.
  8. terminal
    causing or ending in or approaching death
    When she broke the news that her aunt Norma had terminal cancer a couple of years ago, she bought Popkenchurch.
  9. casualty
    someone injured or killed in a military engagement
    Half the businesses in the Garden were either intentionally burned down by rioters or were casualties of the war.
  10. stocky
    having a short and solid form or stature
    “What’s up, Bri?” the stocky one, Reggie, says.
  11. ado
    a rapid active commotion
    “Two names have been drawn,” Hype says, “so without further ado, our first MC is—”
  12. pendant
    an adornment that hangs from a piece of jewelry
    A big cross pendant hangs from a chain on his neck.
  13. faze
    disturb the composure of
    I ball hard, this hood life crazy.
    But I’m a G, it don’t faze me.
  14. paparazzo
    a freelance photographer who pursues celebrities
    Ready to pop if paparazzi chase me.
  15. inevitably
    in such a manner as could not be otherwise
    You can call me a G,
    Your son wish he was me,
    And every girl with a pulse
    Falls inevitably.
  16. arsenal
    all the weapons and equipment that a country has
    Rule number two of battling—use the circumstances to your advantage. Supreme doesn’t look too worried, but trust: He should be.
    That goes in my arsenal.
  17. cipher
    a message written in a secret code
    Should address this cipher to the writer,
    The biter, who really wrote them rhymes.
  18. clique
    an exclusive circle of people with a common purpose
    Ask your clique, and while you at it ask Supreme.
  19. coroner
    an official who investigates death not due to natural causes
    On my corner they call me coroner, I’m warning ya.
  20. fallacy
    a misconception resulting from incorrect reasoning
    No fallacies, I spit maladies, causin’ fatalities,
    And do it casually, damaging rappers without
  21. malady
    any unwholesome or desperate condition
    No fallacies, I spit maladies, causin’ fatalities,
    And do it casually, damaging rappers without
  22. cower
    show submission or fear
    Milez? That’s cute. But it don’t make me cower.
    I move at light speed, you stuck at per hour.
  23. spree
    a brief indulgence of your impulses
    You talk about your clothes, about your shopping
  24. jolt
    move or cause to move with a sudden jerky motion
    I jolt awake.
  25. stint
    an unbroken period of time during which you do something
    It took three years and a rehab stint for her to come back.
  26. lucrative
    producing a sizeable profit
    That health kick of hers made the school take the good stuff from the vending machines and made my business very lucrative.
  27. initiative
    the first of a series of actions
    A few years ago, they started busing students in from all over the city. They called it their “diversity initiative.”
  28. mesmerized
    having your attention fixated as though by a spell
    It’s an internal struggle, being annoyed by his ass and being mesmerized by his face.
  29. hail
    praise vociferously
    When he gets close, he bows like he’s worshipping me. “All hail the Ring queen.”
  30. recital
    performance of music or dance especially by soloists
    It’s all about who got the lead in this play or that recital. Who won that award for their writing or their art. Whose vocal range is the best. It’s a popularity contest on steroids.
  31. unassuming
    not arrogant
    One more year of being quiet, unassuming Bri who stays to herself as her friends get their glow-ups.
  32. contraband
    goods whose trade or possession is prohibited by law
    “Maybe so,” says Dr. Rhodes, “but it’s against school policy to sell contraband on campus.”
  33. delinquent
    a young offender
    Synonyms: thug, delinquent, hooligan, low-life, gangster, and, according to Long, Brianna.
  34. hooligan
    a cruel and brutal fellow
    Synonyms: thug, delinquent, hooligan, low-life, gangster, and, according to Long, Brianna.
  35. coax
    influence or urge by gentle urging, caressing, or flattering
    She runs her thumb along my arm, like she’s trying to coax the tears out of me.
Created on February 12, 2019 (updated February 13, 2019)

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