Faith Evans - Keep the Faith---A Memoir (Book Review)

Faith Evans
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Book Review
Keep the Faith---A Memoir, by Faith Evans with Aliya S. King

Depending on who's asked, Faith Evans is either a skilled, soulful songstress and lyricist with honeyed vocals and killer hooks, or a ghetto-fabulous, opportunistic gold digger who single-handedly inspired a deadly East Coast/West Coast feud that killed two of her generation's most iconic rappers. With a Grammy award, four successful CD's, over a decade in the entertainment industry and a 2009 film depicting her late husband's life and career (Notorious), Ms. Evans now possesses the strength, courage and wisdom to tell her side of the story, and no matter what camp you belong in, Keep the Faith is an eloquent, heart-rending look at her childhood, her gospel-grown aspirations and yes, those heady love and drama-filled years with Bad Boy Records and The Notorious B.I.G.

Book Review
Keep the Faith---A Memoir, by Faith Evans with Aliya S. King

Depending on who's asked, Faith Evans is either a skilled, soulful songstress and lyricist with honeyed vocals and killer hooks, or a ghetto-fabulous, opportunistic gold digger who single-handedly inspired a deadly East Coast/West Coast feud that killed two of her generation's most iconic rappers. With a Grammy award, four successful CD's, over a decade in the entertainment industry and a 2009 film depicting her late husband's life and career (Notorious), Ms. Evans now possesses the strength, courage and wisdom to tell her side of the story, and no matter what camp you belong in, Keep the Faith is an eloquent, heart-rending look at her childhood, her gospel-grown aspirations and yes, those heady love and drama-filled years with Bad Boy Records and The Notorious B.I.G.

In the twenty-five chapters that follow, Ms. Evans  takes it waaaaaay back like dashikis and double-dutch, recalling her early years in Newark, NJ as a fatherless biracial child ("I've heard people mumble something about him being Italian but... I do know that he was white") with her young single mother, maternal cousins and a host of foster children that kept her both near the cross (she sang her first church solo at the age of three) and in the streets as she honed her gift in plays, pageants and early gospel groups.  With surprising honesty, Ms. Evans recalls her troubled teenage years (plagued with abortions, a venereal disease and physically abusive relationship), a brief stint in college and her loveless union with her daughter's father ("It wasn't romantic. It was just something that happened...I ended up pregnant when I really just wanted to get to know him better."), who fatefully led to collaborating with Al B. Sure! and a pivotal audition with Sean "Puffy" Combs. Then, as a new member of Bad Boy, Faith met Christopher Wallace, AKA The Notorious B.I.G., at a photo shoot, and after a ride home to Brooklyn, take-out from a Chinese restaurant and some weed, their reign as hip-hop's most controversial couple had begun ("Now, Big was not what you would call eye candy...And despite all that, there was something about him that I was drawn to. He was bold and confident.").

Their volcanic, crazy-in-love courtship and marriage, along with the emergence of the Bad Boy Entertainment dynasty, is what the bulk of what ...Faith is about. Fans of that untouchable era with marvel at her early clubbing and partying days with Mary J. Blige, and her kicking it on the stoop with Junior M.A.F.I.A., as well as Big's blatant infidelity, her violent confrontations with his side chicks (including Charli Baltimore and Lil' Kim) and yes, that infamous incident with Big's friend-turned-enemy, Tupac Shakur.  There's enough pandemonium to fill a mini-series--- her public struggle with private pain as a 24-year-old widow, being forever scandalized by both Tupac and Biggie in their war of words, and leaving the label that once crowned her 'First Lady'---but no matter what one may think of her methods or her motivations, Ms. Evans (more often than not) probably behaved the way that others would have when forced to deal with sudden wealth, fame and an exploding hip-hop culture all at the same time.  

Whether you consider yourself a fan of hers, a follower of Bad Boy's prolific early years or just want to have an insider view of some of R&B and hip-hop's powerful players, Keep the Faith is an essential read.  Most folks would've withered under the pressures that this woman has endured, but for her to lay bare those triumphs and traumas, while continuing to rise, is what makes Faith Evans personify her given name.

By Melody Charles

 
Album of the Month - Juewett Bostick - Shades of Blu
Choice Cut - Kea Michaels - "Not My Friend"
Song of the Month - Bryan Andrew Wilson - "Only You'

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