Street Boys by Tim Pritchard HarperElement HK$114 Rap fans may be familiar with JaJa (real name Elijah Kerr), the Birmingham lad who moved to Brixton in the 1990s and helped found the notorious London street gang PDC (Peel Dem Crew; 'peel dem' is Jamaican street slang for 'rip them off'). His story is told, along with those of six of his cohorts in Street Boys, by writer and documentary maker Tim Pritchard. Their base was Angell Town, a crime-ridden estate in Brixton that has since been redeveloped, where they made money by selling drugs and through such activities as 'steaming' (robbing shops by barging in, jumping the counter, thumping whoever was in the way and fleeing with the cash-register contents). Their backgrounds are pitiable: Phat Si, abandoned at eight, is already in jail before he learns from his mother the reason she fled to Canada taking only his sisters with her. Also in jail, JaJa reflects on 'the system' and his lack of career choices before drugs won him over. Diffusing his anger is the discovery of Islam. Pritchard's quotation-packed book allows to be heard those voices that normally only echo within prison cells. It also shows not all is lost even when a future seems as improbable as life lived to the full.