Posts Tagged ‘hip hop’

Margaret Mitchell’s romance and Kevin M. Weeks’ music, themes to soothe the soul

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

by Ann DeWitt

Kevin M. Weeks’ first reaction to Margaret Mitchell’s main character Scarlett O’Hara was “Scarlett was something else.”  One can draw the analogy that just as transient Teco Jackson found refuge in the arms of women in the debut novel of the The Street Life Series, that Scarlett O’Hara was likewise looking for a similar comfort in the arms of men in Gone With the Wind.  When times are tough, connecting with a kindred spirit on a sentimental or emotional level brings color to an otherwise drab world.  I suppose characters from different centuries like Scarlett (19th century) and Teco (20th – 21st century) demonstrate that the human condition has not changed much in over 145 years.

Whereas, Margaret Mitchell focuses on romance to portrait a colorful world, life, and the sign of the times during the Civil War, Kevin M. Weeks captures the essence of life years later through the backdrop of music.  Library Journal states, “Street lit authors, without question, embrace a hip-hop soundtrack. In their books, clubs rock with the latest sounds, and iPods are cued up with the rawest tracks…”

In the third novel Is It Rags or Riches?, Kevin M. Weeks provides a glimpse into both the continual rise in popularity of Atlanta hip hop artists at the turn of the 21st Century as well as the diversity of music across the state of Georgia.  Based on a given scene in the novel, Kevin M. Weeks chooses a song which correlates with the message conveyed.

For instance, when Gail Indigo Que’s sister arrives in Atlanta, Georgia, the taxi driver turns to HOT 107.9 radio station and they hear the well known hip hop song, “Welcome to Atlanta” by Jermaine Dupri.”  The lyrics of the song by Jemaine Dupri within itself give the reader additional information about Atlanta in which Kevin M. Weeks does not have to expound. The chorus of the song is:

“Welcome to Atlanta where the playas play;
and we ride on them things like every day.
Big beats, hit streets, see gangsta’s roamin’
and parties don’t stop til’ eight in the mornin’”

This is the beauty of including hip hop music in a crime fiction novel based in an urban setting. The music becomes a powerful extension of the storyline.

Similarly, when Teco Jackson arrives in middle Georgia, Teco and Detective Hanae Troop hear the song “Black Magic Woman” by Fleetwood Mac on 107.9 The Buzz.  In The Street Life Series, this is the first time that Teco Jackson is away from city life.  The song symbolizes Hanae’s ability to provide new experiences for Teco who has chosen a more promising path for his life.  One reader and music enthusiast was so passionate about the song “Black Magic Woman” that he challenged Kevin M. Weeks in regards to the original artist of the song being Carlos Santana versus Fleetwood Mac.  The joy of the discussion between author and reader lit up the room as laughter filled the air.  This demonstrates that Kevin M. Weeks has a way of engaging everyone in his Street Life Series novels. Music soothes the soul.

Thus, Margaret Mitchell uses romance to soothe as she shares with the readers the hard core facts around the Civil War; and respectively, Kevin M. Weeks utilizes music as he outlines with the readers the gritty and dangerous aspects of life on the streets.  Both authors know that realism coupled with familiar elements to the reader (romance and music) are the most effective tools to convey an historical story.

Highlighting the good in humanity, Ann

Photos of Margaret Mitchell and Kevin M Weeks

Photos of Margaret Mitchell and Kevin M Weeks

Note: “Gone With the Wind” its character names and elements are trademarks of. Turner Entertainment Co. and the Stephens Mitchell Trusts. “The Street Life Series” is a trademark of Kevin M. Weeks.