Gangstas Don’t Die, They Write Books: Maino’s Little Bro Chats Urban Lit Movement


What is the cultural importance of the stories that you tell?

I’m just trying to bring some reality to this sh-t because I was reading all these books that weren’t reality based so I’m just trying to bring some realism to it. I’m letting you know the ins and outs, the highs and the lows of this game but it’s cautionary too because there’s no happy endings in my book and that’s real life. I’m like a Donald Goines out here.

Now that you know a bit more about the struggle in getting published, will you sign other authors?

I’m just trying to learn how to master this first before I take somebody else’s life in my hands. I don’t want to take on somebody else’s project and not move on it the way it’s supposed to be moved on and that was the reason I took my own project in my hands. Right now I’m still going through ins and outs of working this game and learning how to maneuver in the literary world. My strategy is hip-hop and it gives me an advantage because these authors don’t get to be in the places that I get to be in. But my plan is to be able to open up avenues to other people.

What do you think about the urban fiction explosion? I’m asking because that’s a pretty polarizing label. Some people feel like it’s a negative separation from other lit genres while others are fine with it because they feel that it speaks to a certain group of people who at one point weren’t getting stories that catered to them.

I love that you asked me that. You can call it what you want to call it, just give us our just do. We are speaking to a group of people that would not be reading anything and now they’re reading, which is gonna be able to take them to the next level of reading. They’ll get bored with reading and same stories and then maybe they’re move on to different books. But they need somewhere to start. I don’t like to be judged but call it urban fiction, call it street lit, call it hip hop literature–it is what it is. It gives a voice to people that otherwise wouldn’t have been able to speak and in my book I get to speak with slang, I get to do the dialect that people are talking with out here. I had a problem with my editor because she was editing my book and hadn’t read it. She was like, “This is wrong, this is wrong” but I’m like, “Nah, I’m trying to show you how people talk on this side so,” I’m all for it. F–k anybody who ain’t for it.

What else are you working on?

I got love is pain, which is ¾ complete. And I got another project that I’m working on called Mouse’s Corner. It’s gonna be a bunch of short stories. I’m gonna give it out on my website firs. I got a character, which is Mouse, and every week he has different dilemmas. It’s different cautionary tales and when I get 20 episodes of that I’m gonna print it up and sell that too. And after July I’m setting up to go city to city to some of the top urban markets.

Mouse will also appear this weekend at The Harlem Book Fair.