By Dax

Make Me Believe
Make Me Believe is a unique book: part crime novel, part non-fiction chronicle, part memoir, part reportage, part love story. I use actual court documents, actual AP stories and other primary documents throughout the story as a way of engaging the audience in a participatory reading of the book that raises the stakes and lifts the veil that often alienates non-fiction readers from fiction. The book begins in the court room in 1995. The first 20 pages consist purely of actually witness testimony I stitched together. The voices of these people – everyone from family members to the police to his best friend who was also the star witness – map the day of the murder based on what they witnessed with their own eyes. But then the story moves forward to the fall of 2002, which is a month after Toronto’s actual execution. I imagined my protagonist as me and wondered, “What if instead of going on with my life, I’d dropped everything, headed to Dallas and attempted to figure out what happened?” In this sense, the entire story is based on a series of “What ifs…?” that, taken together, interrogate the easy, accepted narrative that allowed jurors and an entire community to execute Toronto.

The Best of Intentions
Following his painful divorce, Gus Steadman embarks on a cross-country road trip that ultimately lands him in his hometown after a dozen years of self-imposed exile. A perpetual dilettante infected with a near-debilitating nostalgia for his fading youth, 30-year-old Gus is finally ready to get his life in gear and live in the moment when he discovers that his prep school pal is running for mayor against a twenty-year incumbent and former civil rights activist. Hoping to kick-start his life he joins the campaign only to find himself falling deeper and deeper into the absurd, underhanded world of urban politics. In the end, and after all sorts of unexpected doors have opened along the way, it’s up to him to choose where his loyalties lie and his principles stand. The Best of Intentions is the timeless story of the soul searcher striving to reconcile past with present, theory with practice, idealism with pragmatism. It interrogates the promises of opportunity and unmasks the perils of upward mobility; pits our undying hunger for spiritual connectedness against our insatiable thirst for worldly validation. Most of all, it explores the individual’s fight to live of integrity in a confusing world devoid of easy answers.

The Nightmare and The Dream: Nas, Jay-Z and the History of Conflict in African-American Culture
Tracing the evolution and transformation of the dilemma through the movements, myths and moments that shaped black America and the Hip-Hop generation in the 20th century, The Nightmare and The Dream compellingly argues that the battle between Nas and Jay-Z at the turn of the new millennium was the latest in a long line of creative conflicts between complex, oppositional black icons. An absorbing voyage through time and rhyme, Nightmare situates the ideas and imagery of two of hip-hop’s most intriguing, innovative and controversial icons alongside the most mythologized figures in African-American history. In doing so, this ground-breaking book explains how their truce should be read as the Hip-Hop generation’s response to the tradition of conflict that has heretofore defined black creative thought. Just as previous generations have rescued their heroes from worshippers and cynics alike, The Nightmare and The Dream liberates these two artist-icons from the manacles of mindless misinterpretation by bringing some real and well-earned rigor to an analysis of their careers.

The Underdog’s Manifesto: A Guerilla Artist’s Path to Independence
Creature (w/Dax-Devlon Ross)
Part memoir, part survival manual, The Underdog’s Manifesto isn’t just one artist’s story — it’s every artist’s story. It’s our laughter in the face of disbelief; our resistance of corporate domination and social apathy; our commitment to crafting something original despite our culture’s fascination with derivative, disposable mush. Underdog is the anti-How-To book. Creature’s aim isn’t to sell another rags to riches homily; through his candid reflections, raw wisdom and generosity of spirit he reminds us that there’s no shame in a hard day’s hustle. Throughout history underdogs have spirited the most authentic, audacious and original art, and spawned movements forever altering the creative landscape. Years from now Underdog may very well be regarded as the artistpreneur’s clarion call. In the meantime let the voices and visions of these artists inspire you to look within and ask yourself why you create, what you’re willing to sacrifice, what you believe and what it really means to be successful. Featuring interviews with Underdogs such as Percee P., Duo Live and “Lucky” Logan P. McCoy and afterword by revolutionary thinker Jeremy Glick – the man that frustrated Bill O’Reilly as no one else ever has – The Underdog’s Manifesto is an indispensable and evolutionary addition to the process of becoming a confident and full-bodied artist.