"I don't consider myself an ex-drug dealer or an ex-criminal," rapper Hawkins writes in this sage, fast-paced memoir. "I consider myself to be an experienced fucking person who went through a lot of hell to come out right and get where I am today." Hawkins, a member of the Wu-Tang Clan, describes New York during the less glamorous (and more dangerous) 1970s through the early 1990s, when lived with his single mother in a crack-ravaged Staten Island neighborhood; he dealt drugs as a teenager, eventually running a mini-empire. During this time, Hawkins and his friend Method Man honed their rap skills. They joined other determined, songwriters to form the Wu-Tang Clan. Along the way, Hawkins spent a year in prison for drug possession and, sometime after, was admitted to a mental institution after he was found wandering around his neighborhood in a bathrobe ("Maybe one of my girlfriends poisoned me"); he became a father and later dated Janet Jackson, on whom he had had a crush as a kid. Hawkins is a wonderful storyteller who spares no detail (he writes of using plastic wrap as a prophylactic), and his willingness to share his wisdom in nonsaccharine terms yields an inspirational coming-of-age story.