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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

Unsigned Hype: An Underrepresented Voice from Urban Youth

Booker T. Mattison’s first novel, “Unsigned Hype,” is a terrifically engaging book, full of authentic characters and a palpable atmosphere that pulls you right into the world of Tory Tyson, a teenager with a clear focus of becoming a recognized hip-hop artist. In addition to dealing with the usual challenges of being a teenager, Tory manages to break into the New York music scene while staying true to the proper upbringing of his devoted mother. With its positive representation of a world that is often degraded and exploited, it's no wonder “Unsigned Hype” is drawing some serious consideration from movie producers.

It's no wonder Mattison’s book is getting the attention of filmmakers, his book is what the market centers around today: the creative inspirations of today’s teen. What’s particularly appealing about Mattison’s freshman novel is its immediate accessibility. Whether or not you’re familiar with the world of young kids from New York dreaming of hitting it big in the urban music scene doesn’t matter. Hype’s protagonist, Tory Tyson, speaks straight to the reader in the first person with a verve and enthusiasm that is universal to anyone (let alone a teenager) with great aspirations (again, the perfect hook for a teen driven movie). Tory’s sincere confidence in himself and his talent is not only compelling, but contagious. Not only do you find yourself pulling for this wickedly gifted kid, Tory’s journey through an array of life changing moments will renew your confidence in your own aspirations – I don’t care how old you are.

And as entertaining as the book is with its dramatic turns and engaging coming of age story, it virtually doubles as an excellent how-to guide for the teen making the progression from childhood into a world of difficult choices, tempting options, and easy outs. With the help of a loving family, a concerned father figure and a community that looks out for his better interest, Tory examines the meaning of his life’s events with an emphasis on the importance of critical thinking, discovering what it means to be responsible for the decisions he makes, and the actions that result from those decisions. A common theme, perhaps, but Mattison manages to offer a modern cautionary tale without the heavy-handedness that affects so many other first time novelists, thus making it far more appealing for the intended audience.

Somebody’s going to make this excellent book into a film. It’s only a matter of time. As a coming of age story for a new generation, “Unsigned Hype” is a natural for adaptation to the movie screen. It’s about the strength of family and friends, the longing for lost possibilities and the promise of new opportunities. It’s about the power of dreams and the satisfaction of hard work. But mostly it’s about choosing the right path and staying committed while staying true to yourself. Booker T. Mattison’s look into the world of an aspiring artist, “Unsigned Hype”, should be required reading for every young teen on the verge of becoming an adult (as well as everyone in that teen’s life). It would do a lot of good to help them become the best they can be, just like Tory.

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