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Gangsta Coloring Book to Hit Stores Soon?
May 17, 2004

"The word ho' was NEVER to be used to refer to a garden tool, and cussin' was like breathin," wrote rapper J-Zone in the foreward of the newly beefed up, second release of Chicoan Aye Jay Morano's "Gangsta Rap Coloring Book."

Using photographs for source material, the coloring book features line drawings of some of raps' first stars, including Schoolly D, Notorious B.I.G., Kool G Rap and Ice-T.

"I wanted to have it be just the forefathers of rap," Aye Jay said Friday, sitting cross-legged in front of his large vinyl record collection. "Without them, there'd be no 50 Cent, or he wouldn't have sold 6 million records."

The 48-page book, which gives praise to rap's early heroes, bridges two normally mutually exclusive entities. Coloring books are typically full of cuddly images to keep youngsters ages 3-10 busy. Artists renderings of self-professed, thug-like rap artists, many with guns and knives, would seem to reach another demographic.

Yet, when illustrator-rapper Aye Jay, aka MC Shecklove, created the book as a way to land a job as an illustrator in 2002, his unique publication attracted a lot of attention.

Queen Latifah, who Aye Jay includes in the book's thank you credits, reportedly reacted favorably to the coloring book when handed one during an interview on a British TV talk show.

Aye Jay said he'd heard that Robin Williams and the lead singer of the Roots, among others, have purchased the coloring book.

"A Canadian journalist gave one to Snoop (Dogg) and he reacted favorably to it," he said.

While the first version of the then 22-page coloring book started with 100 copies, printed at Sir Speedy in Chico, the new edition has an initial professional press run of 5,000 copies.

"The target audience is anyone with an appreciation for the whimsical, the silly; it's there for the fun of it. Some people do want to color in it. Some people just keep it."



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