A good biography is like a first long, good hang-out with someone you know you want to be friends with; it is revealing, compelling, endearing and trust building.
A GREAT biography evokes curiosity about the subject; leaves you with questions and makes you want to set a time and place for a longer hang.
"Fallin’ Up" by Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas with Steve Miller will be very good to most.
For me, a Latina with a family full of substance abusers, it was great.
The subtitle, Keep It on the Positive, and the adroit way he tells a very complicated tale of rise, fall, rise again - without being sordid or placing blame - delivers on it.
I must admit, I was a very superficial fan of the band, enjoying some of their tunes while working out. Something about Fergie’s 'hood presentation always annoyed me a bit.
So, I did NOT go into this as a sycophant.
After I read the book and had the benefit of interviewing Taboo (aka Jaime Gomez or Jimmy as his beloved Nanny called him), I Wikipedia-ed, downloaded, MP3ed and good old-fashioned word of mouth recommended the book, the music and a particular video of an after-party with his idol, Bugaloo Shrimp of Breakin’ fame, on the stage dancing with Tab (as his friends call him).
Taboo bravely opens with his 2007 arrest and takes us back through the journey of exactly how he ended up in that cell, the prison of addiction and holding the key to his ultimate freedom, sobriety, in his own hand. He takes us through an unflinching moral inventory.
When we spoke, he said, “It was my lifestyle, I thought I was this God and people were offering me Kush (a type of marijuana), pills, alcohol. It wasn’t because I was Mexican or from East LA, it was my lifestyle. I had a wonderful childhood.”
They say there is no recovery without humility, and for a man who has succeeded beyond his wildest dreams in the music industry, he spoke of his ego getting the best of him.
WHAT? A sober, family-oriented rock star?!
In very humble language he talked about giving back and life beyond the band.
The book lays out the facts of his travails without gratuitously pulling on the heartstrings and his successes without evoking envy or disillusionment that it was in any way a fluke. The disappointment and pain is shared with, not thrust upon the reader.
It is an incredible story of believing in your dreams and holding a vision even when a nightmare rears it’s head in the sequence.
And on a final note, the way the band was there for him made me want to know more about them, even Fergie!
Monique Marvez is a guest contributor to Monsters and Critics. Marvez is a stand-up comedian with an hourglass figure and a stopwatch wit, and delights audiences in English and fluent Spanish. She is part of Showtime Network's Original Latin Divas and is featured on Jamie Foxx's The FoxxHole on Sirius XM.