Bri Jackson is the 16-year-old daughter of the late "Lawless," a rising star in the hip-hop world, killed when Bri was only five years old. Bri aspires to be a rapper, not so much following in her father's footsteps as finding her own voice and forging her own path. She has a shot at starting on that path when she is chosen to be in rap battle at "The Ring." She quickly demonstrates that she has a talent for freestyle rapping and immediately begins to receive attention.
At her school, a high school for the arts, Bri is targeted during routine security screening, and the incident quickly escalates and leads to an unfair suspension. Bri pours her frustration and anger into lyrics for her first rap song, "On the Come Up," which her Aunt Pooh arranges for her to record. Once she has the courage to upload and share her song, it quickly gains popularity.
When the song is used for a spontaneous protest against the security guards at school, and her lyrics are interpreted in ways Bri never meant, she soon becomes uneasy about the potential power of words. Meanwhile, she feels intense pressure to establish a career, because her mother is out of work and struggling to keep the lights and heat on. The pressure includes a possible record deal, but does that require playing a role and rapping words that aren't her own?
I highly recommend this book. Readers who have read The Hate You Give will recognize certain references to events in that book, though On the Come Up is not a sequel. Like Starr Carter in the earlier book, Bri lives in the Garden Heights neighborhood. But she does not know Starr or any of the other characters that Starr associates with.