The Streets Ain't Going Nowhere

Fiction - Urban
256 Pages
Reviewed on 01/20/2018
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Jamal Shakur is an entrepreneur and author. "The Streets Ain't Going Nowhere" is his debut novel. His passion for writing and business has lead him to launch Block Money Publications. He currently is working on another book and working towards building his nonprofit organization called Hip Hop Global Initiative. He loves basketball, eating snow crabs, hip hop, and science. You can visit him at

    Book Review

Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite

Lyrical, exciting, and utterly engrossing, The Streets Ain't Going Nowhere by Jamal Shakur is a character-driven story that explores the psychology and world of crime. The plot follows two compelling characters, Malik and Cos, who set out to run the drug business in the streets of Newark, New Jersey. The two are hustlers who are determined to establish their own empire in the drug business, but can they survive the streets? Can they outwit its cunning and escape its traps?

The narrative is pulsating and the prose is elegant and crisp, filled with many insightful passages and reflections on life. Right from the opening lines, as one of the key characters wakes up, the thought enters into his mind: “But some things are natural consequences of life, like the sun shining in his face breaking his sleep.” Jamal Shakur has a philosophical way of looking at life that compels the reader to reconsider reality. His characters are real, and their authenticity comes out neatly in the interesting dialogues, in the way they are developed, and in the overall realism that permeates each page of the narrative.

This is a novel that examines our choices and readers will love to watch as the characters are constrained to face the consequences of their own choices. The Streets Ain't Going Nowhere deals with the strong seduction of crime and what it takes to win in the streets, but it is also a multilayered story, filled with wit and symbolism. The narrative is strong, the prose compelling in itself, the conflict intense, and the characters crafted with depth. One of the best written books I have read most recently.

Francine Zane

The Streets Ain't Going Nowhere by Jamal Shakur follows the lives of Malik and Cos in the cutthroat battle to survive as drug dealers in Newark, New Jersey. They own the drug trade on their block, but what they have to do to keep it will either make them or break them. The Streets Ain't Going Nowhere is a raw story of sex, violence, drugs, and survival. The language is as real as are the struggles these black men face day after day. They prove that it takes brains to operate a drug business and it takes game to juggle all the ladies. I especially like the interaction between Malik and his mother, how drugs have made him the provider and her the dependent, and even though he lives every day with proof positive of what drugs can do to a life, dealing is the only way he knows to pay the bills and keep food in the house.

While The Streets Ain't Going Nowhere by Jamal Shakur could benefit from a better editing job, the essence of a well-written story is there. The dialogue is consistent. The characters are a balance of good and bad that makes them believable and made me, as a reader, anxious to follow their story. The streets of Newark come alive under the tutelage of Shakur. He more than delivers on his promise to provide a true to life drama to his readers. He brings the lives of the inner city poor to the forefront in a way that is impossible to ignore.

Ruffina Oserio

The Streets Ain’t Going Nowhere by Jamal Shakur is a mesmerizing story with a powerful setting in the underbelly, the notorious streets, of Newark, New Jersey. Malik and Cos are sure they are the new lords of the streets and have the power to control its dirty businesses — sex, drugs, and violence. But they are about to find out that the streets can’t just be conquered. It’s a mystery in itself. At times gentle and benevolent, but at other times — and most of the times — it can deal deadly blows to those it draws into its orbit. Can they navigate the streets and become master hustlers without getting stung by its venom?

This is a novel I have long waited for, without knowing who would write it. It just felt like a response to something I had wanted to read, because the author compels the reader to perceive social reality as it is and how it reflects on our individual souls. It begins with an existential, realistic observation, an insight into the symbolism constructed around the street: “The street is like gravity. Once you get sucked into its orbit, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to break free. Once you travel down that road, there may be no coming back.” The writing is lyrical, laced with symbolism and images that literally flood the reader’s mind. Jamal Shakur writes from a place where readers can easily connect and his prose is so artfully done that it feels good in the heart. The Streets Ain’t Going Nowhere is the best thing I have read in a while. It feels just like hip hop and jazz melded into one.

Lesley Jones

The Streets Ain’t Going Nowhere is a gritty, true to life story of drugs and complex relationships on the streets of New Jersey. Two childhood friends, Malik and Cos, control the streets and drugs. Malik naively believes he can earn enough from the drug dealing business to get out of Johnson and build a life with girlfriend Shakira and her young daughter. With a loose cannon in Cos and a drug addicted mother, however, Malik is trapped. The lavish lifestyle of Cos and Malik draws the attention of envious Wayne Z, who cleverly orchestrates a feud between them and rival drug dealer, Woop Wope. The feud escalates into a drive-by shooting at Malik; he survives but his childhood friend, Tee Tee, is killed. At the girl’s funeral, Malik discovers who is responsible and swears revenge. With Woop Wope gone and his mother going into rehab, Malik can escape the streets and begin a new life. However, before he can leave, Cos is arrested for the murder and Malik must remain in Johnson and gain back control of the streets to ensure the release of Cos - and that means Wayne Z must be paid a visit.

Jamal Shakur’s excellent writing is authentic, the dialogue spot on and characters well researched and developed from the outset. The Streets Ain't Going Nowhere is a desperately sad and harsh tale of drugs and the daily fight for survival. Jamal Shakur explores the effects that dealing in drugs have on personal and family relationships. He entwines into the plot jealousy, rage and revenge and the catastrophic effects of such behaviour. By the end of this tragic tale, we have a clear understanding of the causes and effects of striving to escape the poverty trap of a violent neighbourhood. Excellent book and highly recommended.

Deepak Menon

The Streets Ain’t Going Nowhere by Jamal Shakur can only be described as an eyeopener to the underlying unimaginably complex threads of violence, greed, lust and horror that constitute the foundations of what is known as the ‘Street’. The book begins with the main protagonist, Malik, waking up late in an impoverished apartment, rushing to the empty fridge for something to eat, discovering his mother – a junkie lost in a drug induced trance - has spent the money he gave her for provisions on drugs. Angry but forgiving his mother whom he loves intensely, he speaks on the phone to his girlfriend and then fixes a meeting with his friend, Cos, to accompany him on a drug deal for which he has accumulated enough money. Malik and Cos get their high quality drugs, which they peddle through pushers, and very soon are well on their way to riches, squandering money right left and centre on cars, women and jewelry. Malik, Cos and their friends are born into an extremely decadent culture, and wealth attracts vultures wanting a share of the market. There is trouble. The ‘Street’ is unforgiving.

The story describes what one may visualize as the dregs of a decadent society that has gripped the world today. The language spoken is unique to the times and reprehensible in the extreme, containing expletives highlighting the failure of culture. Graphic descriptions of sex continue throughout the book, illustrating how both the males and the females of this generation have fallen into absolute decadence. Violence, killings, gunfights and premeditated murders occur every now and then. The Streets Ain’t Going Nowhere is a very adult novel with mature themes as it purports to be a mirror of the times, drawing aside the veils shrouding the terrible lives of drug dealers, the fall from grace of young girls and boys and the buildup of deep rifts through the foundations of society, leading mankind into decay and ultimate chaos. It is an eyeopener for all parents. Jamal Shakur states that a portion of all proceeds will go to Hip Hop Global Initiative - a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the quality of life for disadvantaged youth.