Date of Award

Spring 2011

Degree Type



The title of this paper pays homage to the first Street Lit book I ever read: Terri Woods' novel, True to the Game. The title of the book raises the question, what is "the game"? And what does it mean to be "true" to it? In the first graduate-level class in America to read Street Lit as an academically worthy genre, my peers and I settled on several responses: "the game" was the crack-cocaine business, the hustle in general, or the ubiquitous exchanges between sex, money, and power; and to be "true" meant, as one classmate put it, "to keep it real." For the next hour and a half, we followed vernacular-based definitions from one to the next, and came to the result: To be "true to the game" was to not skim any money off the top. to report the numbers you earned, to not weight the scales, to only make exchanges that were honest and equal in value, and to conduct one's self honestly and genuinely. What I came to recognize on my first day of class was that something I had learned from Puff Daddy back in 1998 was true––self-identity and money are so closely interconnected that the game, and many human interactions in Street Lit really are "All About the Benjamins."