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Let Me Hear a Rhyme

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In this standalone novel, Tiffany D. Jackson tells the story of three Brooklyn teens who plot to turn their murdered friend into a major rap star by pretending he is still alive.

Biggie Smalls was right. Things done changed. But that doesn’t mean that Quadir and Jarrell are okay letting their best friend Steph’s tracks lie forgotten in his bedroom after he’s killed—not when his beats could turn any Bed-Stuy corner into a celebration, not after years of having each other’s backs.

Enlisting the help of Steph’s younger sister, Jasmine, Quadir and Jarrell come up with a plan to promote Steph’s music under a new rap name: The Architect. Soon, everyone in Brooklyn is dancing to Steph’s voice. But then his mixtape catches the attention of a hotheaded music rep and—with just hours on the clock—the trio must race to prove Steph’s talent from beyond the grave.

Now, as the pressure—and danger—of keeping their secret grows, Quadir, Jarrell, and Jasmine are forced to confront the truth about what happened to Steph. Only each has something to hide. And with everything riding on Steph’s fame, together they need to decide what they stand for before they lose everything they’ve worked so hard to hold on to—including each other.

384 pages, Kindle Edition

First published May 21, 2019

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About the author

Tiffany D. Jackson

13 books5,517 followers
Tiffany D. Jackson is the New York Times Bestselling author of YA novels including the Coretta Scott King — John Steptoe New Talent Award-winning Monday’s Not Coming, the NAACP Image Award-nominated Allegedly, Let Me Hear A Rhyme, and her 2020 title GROWN. She received her bachelor of arts in film from Howard University, her master of arts in media studies from the New School, and has over a decade in TV/Film experience. The Brooklyn native is a lover of naps, cookie dough, and beaches, currently residing in the borough she loves, most likely multitasking.

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5 stars
1,955 (36%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,014 reviews
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,424 reviews8,982 followers
January 10, 2023
**4.5-stars rounded up**

After Quadir and Jarrell's best friend, Steph, is killed, the boys are in shock. Steph was the best of them, a real good guy, who was also super-talented. Why would someone want to hurt him?

But as the boys know, violence doesn't often make sense and talent certainly doesn't protect you. The year is 1998 and in their Brooklyn neighborhood, the murders of Biggie Smalls and Tupac are still fresh in everyone's minds.

After Steph's funeral, family and friends gather at Steph's Mom's place to show their respects and remember him. Getting away from the crowd, Quadi and Jarrell head up to Steph's room, a sanctuary to which they've never gained access before.

Inside they find his little sister, Jasmine, also seeking solace from the crowd. Additionally, they find the room plastered with images and memorabilia of his favorite musical artists.

The boys knew Steph was real into his music, but they didn't understand the passion went this far.

While innocently poking about Steph's room, the trio discovers he had been in a studio recording. Now they have tracks they need to share with the world. They won't let Steph's legacy die with him. He should be remembered for his greatness.

It becomes their mission. Steph, who they dub, The Architect, will take the scene by storm, they just know it, but how the heck they gonna pull it off?

Pick it up to find out! Things get a little crazy, but this group of teens definitely have their hearts in the right place. Will it be enough? And can't they end up in trouble for this?

Seriously, pick it up!!!

Tiffany D. Jackson can do no wrong in my eyes. This was a superbly-crafted story. She drew me in from the very start.

Her characters always have depth. It is one of my favorite aspects of her writing. It is easy to become attached to them; to the point where you are willing to fight for them, cheer them on, cry with them and celebrate their victories.

I highly recommend the audiobook as a way to take in this story. I just feel like the voice work by all three narrators amplified and energized this narrative. It was so addictive to listen to!

While this story does tackle some heavy topics, obviously as it revolves around the murder of a teen boy, it was still a fun story. Quadi, Jarrell and Jasmine have to get creative in order promote Steph's music; it was a trip.

I will pick up anything Jackson writes. This was such a powerful story; I loved the setting of the 90s and the incorporation of the music.

It was fantastic. Jackson never fails! How's it even possible?! I'm super excited to read more from her! I still have Grown to look forward to; definitely picking it up soon.
Profile Image for Erin .
1,202 reviews1,106 followers
July 24, 2020
Reading Rush: Read the first book you touch
4.5 Stars

"We spread love, Its the Brooklyn way
-The Notorious B.I.G.

If any of you have read a Tiffany D. Jackson novel then you know that her books tend to be a gut punch. Her first two novels Allegedly and Mondays Not Coming were rough reads. I loved them both but Tiffany ripped my heart out of my chest than stomped on it while looking me dead in my eyes.

What I'm trying to tell you is that Tiffany D. Jackson is a savage.

So I was obviously very very scared to read Let Me Hear A Rhyme. The whole time I was reading it I was filled with dread. I just knew Tiffany(look at me using her first name like we friends) was jump out of dark corner and hit me with a brick.....And yet she didn't.

Let Me Hear A Rhyme is about 3 friends Jasmine, Quadir, and Harrell who are still mourning the death of Jasmine's brother Steph who was murdered weeks before. They find out that Steph had recorded several rap songs and decide to promote his music, while let everyone think he's still alive and get him signed to a record deal. And then use the money to find out who he's killer is.

This book like all her books deals with some dark subjects but unlike her other books Let Me Hear A Rhyme is also fun. This book takes place in 1998 and is filled with rap and cultural references from that time. 90's Hip Hop is my favorite music to this day. The first album I bought with my allowance money was Puff Daddy and the Family(that album is a CLASSIC fight me). I started listen to hip hop heavy right around the time that PAC & Biggie died. That era of music made who I am today. Let Me Hear A Rhyme is a love letter to hip hop. Not just the music but the culture. As I read this book I was bumping my 90's hits playlist and smiling but also on alert for Tiffany to punch my in the gut.

This book is fantastic!

The only thing that stopped it from being a 5 star read was that I wanted more romance. I was shipping two characters HARD but she only gave us a taste. You wrong for that Tiffany....but I love you anyway.

Profile Image for Booktastically Amazing.
436 reviews371 followers
August 28, 2021
*leans close enough to megaphone to eat it*
Lads, Gentles, and Villains... I hereby present y'all with the following information.
*runs out of podium*

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4.3 ('well, that was unexpected' stars)



I am zen. I am stress-free.
Ahahahaha, as if I could ever be.

Y'all, this has been such a bloody painful journey (no pun intended hehehe, if you know how his author works, you'll for sure get that, pfft), filled with potholes of plot twists, short cuts that have led to gruesome discoveries, mental asylums where everything isn't as it seems and finally, a book about a found family, revolution, and bittersweet endings. (I swear my lip is trembling because I'm cold, never mind that my fan is at the highest capacity and even the walls are perspiring)

I've ceremoniously cursed this wonderful author, thrown tantrums because IT IS INCREDIBLY NOT FAIR WHAT YOU MADE THESE CHARACTERS SUFFER-, and deemed her as blessed as a devil amongst clueless people. Cruel, and befitting of an award for her skills of hiding in plain sight. Someone like that is totally not human, I'm SURE of it

Without further ado, or with a lot of ado, without further interruptions. I'm so sorry
I need to go scream and dramatically have an argument in the bathroom. Excuse me.

Hello, I see you have not gone away yet. Are you procrastinating because studying gives hernias? I'm totally not doing that, there are absolutely no more things I need to do. *side eyes 4-page assignment due four days from now* *silently slides it off of desk with a satisfying thump*

I shall dip into the pool of the plot because it deserves to be swum in and caressed by children who aren't yet potty-trained but who, nonetheless, enjoy the cool feel of the water. This was absolutely and confusedly different from any of the author's previous books (I'm completely milking the fact that I actually read an author's books in total. First time! Never mind that I'll never be the same after all that-). In other words, it wasn't gory, didn't have enough mental and emotional trauma thrown at my face with the intent of breaking my nose and possibly giving me a concussion (as thrillers books should), and frankly, it wasn't as disturbing as say... the rest. I loved the topics it discussed, enjoyed immensely the entertaining pace that made me jump from page to page in search for answers, and the oh so sweet release of anxiety strangling me as I tried to cope with the fact that a lot of things didn't make sense at the moment. (Typical Tiffany, by the way. Just bookly (definitely a word) kill the reader in hopes of reeling their corpse to shore afterwards. Hahahahahahaa, totally smart, RIGHT?) The themes were current with the real world and painful to experience through the eyes of one personally suffering it. In shorter terms, pain everywhere. In my heart, too.

I just can't find more words to describe the writing, really. The last review I compared it to donuts, I'll compare it again with some other thing... oh! A grave. Yes, deep, meaningful and life giving. Meaning the maggots in said grave, of course. The corpse is me.

Like, I've mentioned before, this author just has something different.
(maybe her psychopathic ways of destroying my soul-)

Then we have the characters. I just had chills and I don't know if it's because of the fan literally acting like a tornado less than two feet from me, but I'll say it was the book.

I really had no idea this book was not going to be a thriller, so what did I expect? One of them being a cold-blooded murdered. What? My past experiences have honed my brain to expect the absolute worse (COUGH, child killers) and I was a little confused when that didn't happen.

The MC were multiple ones, since they were divided into different POV's (that again, I obviously thought one of them was going to start pulling out knives and telling us how he ended people before). *I am completely mentally fine*

Jas, dear one, I'm so mega proud of you for resisting punching those guys. Seriously, if I could gift you a trophy in the form of a fist, I would. I adored her strength, resilience, come-and-catch-me-if-you-can attitude that ignited my love for strong female figures in books and her sassy comebacks! Honestly? *bows down* *to fix shoe* Not bowing level yet, but you have so much potential.

Quadir, was, unexpectedly, a complete sweetheart. And by complete, I mean, not completely but for the sake of better enunciation, it shall stay that way. Pfft. That guy was kind, strong, didn't care if he showed emotions and baby? Even though I didn't love you, I'm sure about 6789 other people do. Now, if you could jump down into a train and be run over by it, I would feel extremely compensated for the sexist comments you made.

And lastly, we have Jerell. Holy mold on a silver bullet, I didn't expect for him to be the GOAT of the guys in this book. *pulls hair back in Jesse fashion* His humor, sarcasm, quick thinking, comebacks, attitude, everything that made him, well, HIM, was fantastic. Of course, I wanted to kill him sometimes, and of course that feeling lasted for a few pages, but he was as addicted as a Soap Opera. Dramatic, enthusiastic, and probably illegal in other places. (have you ever actually listened to a Telenovela dialogue? W H E E ZE)

The rest of the characters, like dear Steph and Jasmine's mother and a whole lot of others I'm unable to remember as of now, were insanely drawn together with the string of good character building. I just- darn it, I need another book.

The romance was cute.
I'm a new person.
I don't rant against romance anymore.
ahahaha, as if. The romance was okay, not great but, didn't suck. At this point, that's the best I could hope for.

And oh my gawd, did I forget to mention the friend interactions?? HAHA my bad.
*starts full on sobbing* Why was that so BeAUtIfUL??? Why is that not ReAL???
Stupid reality with stupid pandemics and stupid studies and stupid people and stupid- I'll stop.

On a closing note, am I about to cry if I don't have White Smoke in my hands? Nah, those aren't tears, they're um... rivers of life. This book, nay, this whole story, touched subjects that are real and painful and heartbreaking and goshdarnit should not exist in the first place. Any and every race should be respected because we're all different for a dang reason! To bring different ideas, different points of views, different skin colors, different shape of eyes, different style, different languages, different life stories! Steph was taken too soon, like many others, but the fact that Tiffany took the time, patience and *gags* love, to write this in such a beautiful way makes me a little more bendable to forgive her for shattering my will to live on previous books.

No I did not get what I expected, no this is not a bloodthirsty story, but the life lessons it brings, amidst the torture of reading a new chapter when it got difficult, was something I would never regret having.

P.S: The fact that everyone referred to anyone as queens and young kings... I'm totally not preordering White Smoke.
Totally not.
Breathe through the pain, Booksy, breathe through the pain.

Hold up, that’s it?! The end? Nuh uh, I am not ready. NOT READY.

Darn it, Tiffany, why you gotta do my heart like this-
My lungs can’t even function.


The book is literally there.
I need to sleep.
But it. is. there.

The worse that can happen is that I'm left as an emotional corpse.
Profile Image for Celia.
Author 6 books469 followers
January 13, 2019
HOW DARE THIS BOOK COME INTO MY HOME. How dare it put me through a torrent of feelings. In the place where I sleep. Where I watch Netflix and eat jalapeno Cheetos.

Thank you Edelweiss and publisher for the honor of reviewing this title ahead of its release date.

This is the first book I’ve read by the author, but believe me, I’m scooping up her other titles shortly. This book follows three friends who, after the murder of their friend, set out to 1.find out who killed him and 2. Show the world his music. Set in the late 90’s in Brooklyn, Jackson throws into a world of hip hop, the daily struggles of teens and that of black families and in the injustices they face. It hit me emotions like the ones I got reading THE HATE YOU GIVE and DEAR MARTIN.

This story is told by three points of view as well some past third person throw backs. I’ll usually feel overwhelmed by so many alternating perspectives, but this one didn’t bug me much at all.

Read this book if you love:

Old school hip hop references to make you feel old (or discover new ones if you’re not as old as I am)

Strong friendships

Amazing writing

Don’t read it if you’re heartless and prone to shedding your snake skin at night.
Profile Image for CW ✨.
625 reviews1,687 followers
March 12, 2022
An incredible tribute to the 90's hip-hop and rap scene and a heartfelt story about friendship, music as community, and grief.

The story follows three Black teens who devise a plan to turn their murdered friend, Steph, into a rap star by pretending that he is still alive and packaging his music into an album. When their plan succeeds and his music is played in the hottest clubs and across their neighbourhood, the three friends race to keep their secret and prove Steph's talent from beyond his grave.

I just loved the premise of the story - three friends who try and keep their friend and brother alive through his music and talent. At its heart, Let Me Hear a Rhyme is really about how powerful and influential voices are taken away from us too early. There is an element of mystery underlying the story, as Jasmine tries to find out who killed her brother and why. The story has fantastic emotional beats that land (parts of this made me sob), and the three perspective characters are engaging, interesting, and fully realised.

I highly recommend the audiobook. The narrators - Korey Jackson, Nile Bullock, Adenrele Ojo, Adam Lazarre-White - were phenomenal; their performances make this book one of my favourite audiobooks of all time.
Profile Image for Katie Hanna.
Author 6 books102 followers
August 29, 2019
Well, that was a surprise.

The only other book I'd ever heard of by Tiffany D. Jackson is Allegedly, a (I THINK?) crime/trial/general suspense thriller, and that never sounded like my cup of tea. But I saw Let Me Hear a Rhyme on the YA shelf at our public library recently, and, drawn by the vibrantly colorful cover, I decided to give it a try.

Best. reading. decision. of. the. year.

Because this book is a GEM, folks.

Basically, Let Me Hear a Rhyme follows three teenagers in Bedford-Stuyvesant, New York, in the late 1990s--Jasmine, Quadir, and Jarrell--as they swing a craaaaaaaaaazy plan to turn Jasmine's brother Steph into a hip-hop star AFTER his murder. Without telling anybody he's gone. Because, no matter how big a lyrical genius Steph may be . . . no record label will sign a dead kid.

Tiffany Jackson called her book "a love letter to Brooklyn," and that's exactly what it is. Every single sentence pulses with sheer love for the place she (and her characters) call home. Every single sentence adds another tiny, shimmering piece to the mosaic she's building; quite possibly the most vivid setting I've EVER seen in a contemporary novel. [Yes, I would categorize this as contemporary--technically--I don't think 20 years is enough to make it 'historical.'] All Jackson has to do is drop a few well-chosen words, and boom, I see it in my mind: Jasmine's Afro puffs, Quady's bright jacket, Jarrell's crammed apartment with its overworked radiator blowing steam into frigid November air. The little store at the corner, where the boss slices deli meat and quizzes local kids on African-American history. The bleak, newspaper-strewn lot where Steph bleeds out from a gunshot wound, at age 16 . . . just for trying to protect the ones he loves.

I would say Let Me Hear a Rhyme is less explicitly political than something like, say, The Hate U Give. Please note, I'm NOT saying that in approving fashion, like "politically charged stories are Bad (TM)." I'm also not saying the book is apolitical? I'm more saying, Jackson weaves bits of political ideology and historical observation in there along with everything else, but she's not [in my view] pushing a coherent political MESSAGE so much as simply saying, "This is how I remember life in Brooklyn in the '90s." Thus, we see police portrayed as both good and bad; we see drug dealers portrayed as both good and bad; and more than anything else, we see ordinary members of the community just . . . living their lives. Trying to survive. Trying to thrive. Which, in itself, is super important.

I tell you what. Reading this novel was one of the most emotional experiences I have had in a LONG WHILE. At times, it seemed every other sentence would bring a lump to my throat: but not from an excess of sentiment or from cheap "tear-jerking" writing. Nope, it was Just That Good. Steph is gone, forever; and he could have done so much more with his life, his gifts, his brain; and the author never lets you forget either one. Jasmine, Quady, and Jarrell don't forget, either. A lot of books which use a pre-story death as the catalyst of their plot kinda . . . shove the death aside, after a while. Folks just stop talking about it. Not here. Oh, gosh. There was one scene where Jasmine is holding her brother's recordings in her hands and thinking "this is the closest I will ever get to hearing his voice again" and I was just like "HELLO I'M DONE."


It's more than a love letter to Brooklyn. It's a love letter to the power of art. And a love letter, I would say, to anyone who's ever lost a brother.

Can I also just say: the romance between Jasmine and Quady? YES. YES. YES. A THOUSAND TIMES YES. #friendstoloversdoneright

Content: Ummmmmmmmmmm, extremely frequent strong language? Which I myself have no problem with, because a) realism, and b) I've heard it alllllllllllllllllllllll before; but some of my younger or more conservative pals (You Know Who You Are ;-) ) might have issues with it. Honestly, though, that's my only real caveat in recommending it. There's some innuendo, some talk of sex, but zero sex scenes [yay, YA! You're getting better at this!] A bit of on-screen violence, but nothing I was personally uncomfortable with; and y'all know I have a low tolerance for violence.

Read it, my dudes.

"Spread love. That's the Brooklyn way."
Profile Image for J Beckett.
142 reviews403 followers
August 8, 2019
Yo, Tiffany D. Jackson did the damn thing here! I was expecting to have a lukewarm reaction to Let Me Hear a Rhyme, not because Jackson lacks skills as a YA writer or misses the mark when it comes to delving into the unexpected, but because the idea of writing a story about a deceased rapper whose friends and family try to get his music produced was, in my initial opinion, a stretch; or so I thought. Jackson weaves the rap music scene in Brooklyn throughout the 300 plus page novel with the elegance and artistry of a funnel spider. She delves into the deep constitutions of friendship, love and hard to fathom decisions. Yes... it includes all of that! ALL OF THAT! AND MORE!

It's a page-turner without trying too hard or presenting itself as too pretentious. I'll admit, I was cautious. Her previous works, although very good, sometimes fanned the flames of predictability and reached beyond the story's able grasp. Not the case with Let Me Hear a Rhyme. It was carefully penned, identifiable, and relatable, whether you know Brooklyn, its music scene, and the rap game, or not. Let Me... was progressive, unnerving, blistering and alluring. It became a mental movie, a Bed-Sty pantomime for the reader to watch from a corner chair and ingest until their swelling heart lodges in their throat.

If you follow my reviews you're aware of the fact that I don't give spoilers; hoping that you'd read the book and draw your own opinions. That practice applies here as well. Read this book and decide whether it moved you in the same way that it moved me; a New Yorker with the rap music scene and the complexity of friendships and honor coursing through his veins. In the vernacular of the book; this joint was dope!!

Thank you, Tiffany D. Jackson. With this one... your game's just rewind.
Profile Image for Katie.dorny.
949 reviews490 followers
August 27, 2019
This just reminded me of on the come up and I couldn’t help myself but choose my favourite child in this battle.

I loved both, but this felt lacking compared to that and I couldn’t help but do so with all the plot similarities.

The characters are well developed and the dialogue is witty and fast paced; as is the plot.

There were startling differences with our main artist here being deceased, but it felt like death and grief were pushed aside for some humour and light hearted romance and that didn’t sit well with me.

This is a quick but no easy read, yet it fails to get with the knockout expected from the emcees within its pages.
Profile Image for R.F. Gammon.
457 reviews171 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
October 2, 2019

I actually really like this

The writing style? Fantastic. The characters? Compelling. The plot line? Amazing. I think I'm definitely GOING to finish it.

However...for right now, I'm DNFing, simply because I've been reading SO MUCH contemporary lately and I am in DESPERATE need of a fantasy kick xD

Basically? I can't give this book the attention it deserves right now. Which makes me sad, because it deserves all the attention.

Hopefully I'll be trying it again, soon.
Profile Image for Tabrizia.
725 reviews8 followers
June 2, 2019
It wasn't bad. This was more of a trip down memory lane for me, growing in the '90s and through the rise of hip hop. The book managed the culture of gun violence, paranoia of the police, snitching, financial strain...the background of this book I felt really capture the true atmosphere of the 1990s.

However, this book wasn't what I expected and not in a good way. While reading it, I felt that it was lacking the emotion and the connection you should feel with the characters. I don't know if it was the language used by the teens (which was a bit annoying and could at times hamper the reading experience) or the story structure but I just had a hard time being invested in the story. The multiple perspectives I also found hurt the overall structure of the book. Jasmine's narrative was the strongest of all the perspectives and I felt that the book could have been told just through hers, actually, it may have made it a bit better.

Jackson could have also focused on one part of the book: either getting Steph a record deal or the mystery behind his murder. Combining the two was completely unnecessary and just made the book more convoluted. But even with the mystery by itself, it was very weak. I was expecting a bit more emotion behind the reveal but it was severely lacking, let alone very predictable but in the YA genre that clearly expected. I also had a hard time finding this realistic. Three teens conning the music industry and lying to their parents, all while getting away without any consequences? I couldn't even pull that off when I was a teen. I just had a hard time finding the realism behind it.

However, I can agree that some teens will enjoy this novel, especially those who are fans of hip hop and the history behind it. Some of the cultural references may go over their heads. Readers of my generation will enjoy the memorable trip through the '90s but the story will frustrate them.
Profile Image for Maddie (Inking & Thinking).
165 reviews123 followers
February 18, 2021
⭐️ 4 Stars ⭐️


One of my favourite things about this book was the storyline. It's so interesting and unlike anything, I have ever read. After the death of 16-year-old Steph, His sister and best friends decide to share his music with the world and they pretend Steph is alive. They end up going super far with this by signing Steph up for a record deal, getting his previously recorded music remixed, going to appearances with other famous producers and singers and selling his CDs.

This book is also set in the 90s. I loved that it was set in the 90s because many books aren't set in that time period. We get to see things like CDs (CDs who??), popular artists back in that era (Mainly hip hop and Rap), Marvel Comics and popular slang that was used back then. It is also set in the heart of Brooklyn, where we get this overwhelming theme of love. You could see the Brooklyn culture throughout this book and we also get information about Black History which was great to see.

The characters are also amazing in this book. They feel like real people because they make mistakes, they're impulsive and they actually felt like they were 16-year-old high schoolers.

We have Jasmine who wanted to find justice for her brother and find his murderer. She was determined to find out who did it since she was feeling guilty that she may have caused it. Jasmine was very in tune with her roots and she wasn't afraid to spit some facts on her culture. I loved how she wore her hair in a natural way with pride and wouldn't change it for anyone.

Then we have Quadir who cares so much for his family and is willing to do anything for them. He lied a lot of the time in order to protect them and we see him learn over the course of the story that it's better, to tell the truth. He learns to be truthful with the ones he loves and changes for the better.

Last but not least we have Jarrell. Jarrell is not afraid to share his feelings and he always keeps it straight with his family. We see he cares a lot for his family and also is always on the latest trend. He has such a great relationship with Quadir and you could tell that they are so close. They both had each other's back and always tried to keep it straight with one another

Jasmine and Quadir's relationship was so amazing. I knew from the beginning that they were going to get together. You could tell based on the writing and also how they spoke to one another. I'm glad they got together because they are similar in so many ways and that they care about each other tremendously.

Jackson shows how Brooklyn was in the 90s by having details such as the police being good and bad and Drug dealers being good and bad. She shows this community that is just trying to live their lives. She shows how people in Brooklyn are trying to survive and provide for their families in however way they can. She shows a community coming together to celebrate Steph's life and his music.

TW: Language, Violence

Profile Image for Claude's Bookzone.
1,460 reviews182 followers
August 15, 2020
A brilliant book about three teenagers commitment to realising the unfulfilled music career of Steph, their friend and brother. Steph was shot and killed in his own neighbourhood. Using some of the music he recorded before his death they pretend he is alive in order to secure a record deal. The message in the book was incredibly poignant. Steph lived. He was someone. He had incredible potential and because of a violent crime he was robbed of the opportunity to follow his passion, and in turn, the world was robbed of the opportunity to hear his gift. As a further gut punch, his sister and his two best friends are individually living with the fearful secret that they may have been responsible for his death. The book was incredibly well crafted with flashbacks that allowed us to get to know and care for Steph. The story skillfully unfolded a layer at a time until the truth of the killing was laid bare. The characters all felt relatable and the bond between them believable. An important and engaging book.
Profile Image for Mallory.
976 reviews52 followers
June 14, 2021
I have read all of Tiffany Jackson’s other books (Monday’s Not coming is my personal favorite!), so I went into reading this one with some big expectations. This book was good, but for my it didn’t reach the same level of greatness that Monday’s Not coming, Grown, and Allegedly hit. That being said it was still a very compelling story full of great characters and it packs an emotional punch. This book takes place in the late 1990’s in Brooklyn and centers around a boy named Steph who was gunned down far before his time. His best friends Quadir and Jarrell and his little sister Jasmine come across some of songs he’d recorded in his room. Suddenly they have something new to distract them from grief - they have a mission to ensure that Steph’s dream of being a signed, famous, artist doesn’t die with him. As they work to make demos and promote his music they also try to piece together the puzzle pieces to try to figure out who killed Steph.
Profile Image for julia ☆ [owls reads].
1,495 reviews292 followers
June 5, 2020
4 stars!


Headline: Three Kids From Brooklyn Pull Off the Biggest Heist in Hip-Hop History

Let Me Hear a Rhyme was a delight! It had mystery, romance, friendship, and music. The multiple perspective narrative was so so well done that I couldn't help but b swept in by Quadir, Jarrell, and Jasmine's POVs--and Steph, who we got to know mostly from his music and the lyrics presented throughout the novel. They were all so real and complex and well developed and I loved every single one of them tbh.

The plot was so! tightly woven! Not a thread was left behind and I loved the way Jackson put the puzzle pieces together. The way she used language and described Brooklyn in the 90s, with all its hip-hop history and slangs was also so cool and such a rich part of the novel. It was a reality totally different from my upbringing and I really appreciated getting to know it a little bit, even more so with the helpful Glossary at the end of the novel.

The pace was a bit slow for me at times? Things slowed down quite a bit during the mid-point and took a little while to pick up, so it felt like things weren't progressing as much as they should. The last 30% or so were so so so good, though, and the way everything came together was *chef's kiss*. I loved how hopeful the final chapters were and how Quadir, Jasmine, and Jarrell achieve their goal: to have Steph be heard.

I definitely recommend Let Me Hear a Rhyme to anyone looking for books written by Black authors and that portray Black youth. If you enjoy stories focused on friendship and with some cool lyrics, and a little romance, please check this out! The complex characters and tight plot make for a really entertaining and, at times, emotional story.


POV: Told from Quadir, Jarrell, and Jasmine's POVs.
Content Warnings:
Love Triangle:
Cliffhanger: No.
Profile Image for Léa.
270 reviews1,369 followers
May 30, 2021
➶ 2021 books: 72/60

I absolutely ADORED this book... there is just something about Tiffany D. Jackson's writing that makes me fall in love every time!

From the first chapter, I was instantly immersed into the lives of these characters. The discussions of racism, grief and love were so intricate and I was so intrigued throughout the entirety of the story. One element I absolutely adored was the conversation of fulfilling somebodies dream for them, when they are no longer here. Musically, seeing the characters' dreams come to life and the joy surrounding it was incredibly heartwarming.

I recommend this book to absolutely everyone! It was such a beautiful, fast paced young adult contemporary that focused on some extremely important topics. (the audiobook was also incredible)
Profile Image for breana / milkyboos ♡.
269 reviews1,453 followers
March 8, 2022
LOVED this one!!! the multiple povs were each written so well and had a unique voice that differentiated them from one another (an issue i run into frequently with mult pov stories)

the warmth and love the three mcs had for steph was so moving, and i really empathized with the desire to have someone you love be remembered for more than their untimely death. the flashback scenes with steph were woven in well, though i maybe would have liked a bit more of them to fill in some gaps in the story along the way

i do wish i got to spend a bit more time with quadir, jarrell, and jasmine as the ending felt a bit rushed/sudden, but overall this was a very fun read and i’ll definitely be checking out tiffany d jackson’s other books as well!
Profile Image for Elizabeth Aguilar.
561 reviews56 followers
July 21, 2020

Easily a top 10 book of the year! I didn't get the chance to add any notes because I had a terrible tootache last night. >_<

For now a few thoughts:
The characters were all complex. No on-- other than the murderer-- was truly good or bad. They all made mistakes. They had good intentions.

I've never really understood hip-hop, even though I knew it held a deep significance for the black community. However, Let Me Hear a Rhyme really showed me why it matters so much and why people resonate with it. Tiffany D. Jackson called it her "love story to hip hop" and that very well summarizes the heart of this story.

I also loved that Jackson explored multiple plot lines via the Steph's best friends and his sister (plus the flashbacks). She did it in a way that resolved, for the most part, nicely by the end without feeling force. I was still left with some questions at the end about something, but it technically got resolved so I'm still satisfied.

Let Me Hear a Rhyme tackles topics such as racism, feminism, gangs, drugs, relationships, friendships, and resource gap in low-income communities compared to wealthier areas. Yet the inclusion of these topics did not appear for educating. They felt included because these are parts of the reality that some black people face. To ignore these topics would be to ignore real stories.

Many times while reading, I found myself surprised by the twists that Jackson pulled. While it's not categorized as a mystery or thriller, it does use some of the techniques you see in that genre, but in a way that fits the contemporary genre.

I'm excited to make my way through her backlist and for her upcoming book, Grown. If you haven't checked her out yet, I highly recommend you get on it!
Profile Image for Jennifer.
1,797 reviews
May 26, 2019
This author is known for writing important and meaningful YA books. This book is no exception.

This is the third book that I have read by this author. I have previously read: Allegedly and Monday's Not Coming.

Let Me Hear A Rhyme is told from the POVs of three black teens from Brooklyn and is set in the late 90s. The POVs: Jasmine, Quadir, and Jarrell (all 1st person POVs).

The basic premise of the book is that one of their friends is murdered. And he was a really good rapper. They want to posthumously make him a success.

These kids are 15 and 16 and are in high school. The book features a lot of slang, which I found to be a bit too much.

There is a bit of romance, but not a ton.

There are also a few chapters that include the murdered friend (3rd person POV). These chapters show the dates (1997 and 1998). It was obvious that these took place before the friend died. But I found it a little bit confusing and wish that it had just been explained at the beginning that the rest of the story was moving forward from August 1998. Also, why is the story set in the late 90s at all?

There is a bit of a mystery as the teens want to find out how their friend died.

I did like the premise of the story. It was an interesting idea. The author tells a powerful story. But overall I just didn't find myself overly invested in the story. There was so much slang and maybe some people love reading when teens talk like that. But for me it made it harder to understand.

Thanks to edelweiss and Katherine Tegen Books for allowing me to read this book.
Profile Image for Yna from Books and Boybands.
741 reviews345 followers
December 26, 2020
Headline: Three Kids From Brooklyn Pull Off the Biggest Heist in Hip-Hop History

"You may kill the man, but you can never kill his dream."

I loved this so much! That ending brought me to tears!
Profile Image for Maria.
469 reviews309 followers
June 19, 2020
An absolute MUST READ! I need time to collect myself, so full review to come!
Profile Image for g a b s ⚡.
38 reviews77 followers
December 7, 2020
the concept - a masterpiece
the characters - lovable
the story - amazing
the verses - fire
Profile Image for Alaina.
5,921 reviews216 followers
November 23, 2021
I absolutely devoured this in our freaking sitting with zero regrets. It was so freaking good. I don't think Tiffany could ever write a horrible book (in my eyes) and I hope I never cross paths with one either.
Profile Image for Christina Lane.
450 reviews12 followers
July 29, 2020
Loved the nostalgic feel, realistic characters and wonderful writing!
December 10, 2022
Tiffany D. Jackson is becoming an autobuy author for me.  I loved Monday's Not Coming, but I loved Let Me Hear A Rhyme even more.

This book takes place in 1998 with some flashbacks to 1997.  I has 21 at that time, so not too much older than these kids.  I remember the east coast, west coast rivalries.  The shootings and how they're still unsolved.  I loved all the hip hop music references throughout the book.

Steph was a 16 kid who loved music.  He also took after his father, trying to get kids to see that they could become so much more.  That their neighborhood or economic issues didn't have to dictate their lives.  He encouraged his friends to go to college and become something.  Steph was serious about music and was writing songs all the time.  But then he was shot and no one was talking about who did it or why.  The police weren't really taking it too seriously.  To them, he was just another black kid shot in the city.

Steph's sister, Jazz, along with best friends, Quady and Rell were all devastated.  They went into Steph's room and found cds and notebooks with lyrics.  Boxes of them.  They also found a box that confused them, because Steph was a good kid.  Jazz goes to pick up Steph's last check and finds out that he never worked where he said.  So where did he get his money?  The trio is really bummed that no one would ever hear Steph's music.  They thought he could be bigger than Biggie.  So they came up with a plan to record an album and sell it locally.  They would hand it out to DJ's and see what happened.  The music was popular right away.  So much so that there was a small piece in Vibe and a big producer contacted "The Architect".

The kids try to play things off the best they could.  They went into a small local studio and made the songs better.  They took meetings and made excuses on why Arch wasn't there.  Jazz even pretends to be him at a club one day.  But they can only keep things a secret for so long.  During this time, Jazz is trying to figure out why Steph was killed.  Each friend had secrets and so did Steph.  

The book was filled with lyrics and points of view from each character with flashbacks to Steph.  I loved the ending and I teared up a bit.  Music is so important to me and I can't sing or write (or play for that matter), so I can only imagine how much it means to the people surrounded in that scene.  I feel like music is a language that everyone can understand and it can bring people together.

All the pieces of Steph's murder do come together at the end.  His secrets come out and the kids do come clean about his death to the producer.  

Thank you to the publisher and Edelweiss for my copy for review.  I gave this 5 stars.
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