New Orleans Author Brian Bagneris’ debut memoir Hustle Till I Die

Fleur De Lis Data News Weekly Contributor

Brian Bagneris’ Debut Memoir Hustle Till I Die is a must-read. It chronicles the life of a young man’s coming-of-age in 1990s New Orleans. As a teenager, Bagneris witnessed the shooting death of his childhood friend Kenneth Breaux. This pivotal moment became “the day that he had to choose between 2 existing worlds: the normal life of a 16-year-old Black teenager growing up in Hollygrove, a working-class neighborhood of New Orleans or “getting it how he lives” the life as an angry hurt man-child on the cruel and dirty streets of the city.”

The book follows Bagneris through a period of grief and desire for revenge that leads him to juvenile detention and life as a notorious Hollygrove drug dealer. At the same time, we see Bagneris discover his creative voice as the prolific rapper 2twenty3 and develop a vibrant and tight-knit family. Years later, Kenneth’s killer is released from prison and reenters Bagneris’ life in unexpected ways. Just after Bagneris and his family purchase and settle into their first home, a harrowing evacuation from Hurricane Katrina confirms his dedication to the city that raised him. Hustle Till I Die is a compulsively readable portrait of a New Orleans native, told in a charismatic, insightful new voice.

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