For hardcore hip-hop fans, hearing that rapper Victor Vazquez―also known as Kool A.D. from musical group Das Racist―is now writing fiction novels is like receiving a birthday gift but not on your birthday. One makes the assumption that his superior lyrical ability will translate into stellar prose. “OK,” his first novel, is not an excellent debut despite some of its strengths. Readers accustomed to traditional literary standards of excellence must proceed to reading Kool A.D.’s “OK” with caution.

The novel follows the protagonist, Muhammad X―newlywed and a Muslim convert―through a random journey of self-reflection and analysis of his world in the fogginess of a narcotics-induced high. Like the author, X is also a rapper. This is not only significant to the plot, but it also explains X’s mode of expression. In fact, he narrates his life as if he was in the recording studio rapping a freestyle. The novel flows with a randomness that initially charms the reader into X’s reality. Throughout the tale, X narrates in African American Vernacular English, Arabic, Spanglish and even ends a chapter with the surprise of a smiley face emoticon. Initially, the artistic choice to experiment with language is a liberating, radical choice. In some ways, Kool A.D.’s consistency with his choice of language challenges common prejudices of the well-read and educated, who are less-inclined to perceive speakers of African American Vernacular English or Spanglish as critical thinkers like themselves. Unfortunately, as the novelty of Kool A.D.’s unconventional writing style wears away, the experimentation with language and style contributes to the story’s detriment. The story never fully develops into coherence. As a result, the use of “thru” and the unique capitalization of words becomes more of an annoyance. When X haphazardly flies on carpets, smokes marijuana and makes love with his wife within the span of one paragraph, an alienated audience ignores the few pleasant moments of complex and nuanced storytelling. Only tiny threads of connectivity attach seemingly unrelated episodes to each other and urge a hopeful reader to continue on X’s hazy journey.

Despite its fatal flaw, “OK” includes insightful nuggets of philosophical and social commentary. It remains culturally relevant throughout the entire story. Chris Rock’s “Top Five,” Nina Simone, Ray Charles and Bob Marley are some of the many cultural references that draws in the reader throughout all the chaos. Additionally, X’s theological and philosophical views normalize Islam during a time where the religion is stigmatized. The novel is the epitome of multiculturalism and shines as a depiction of “America the Melting Pot” without denying structural issues that continue economic exploitation and disenfranchisement of minorities.

Although “OK” fails nobly in its entirety―even with its redeeming qualities―there are entertaining elements of the prose that initially draws in the reader to ponder on complex philosophical and societal issues. Its poetic quality can be appreciated, especially when considering the lyrical talent of the author. This does not mean that the novel escapes alienating even the most open-minded audiences. Devoted Kool A.D. fans will end the novel disappointed to have read it sober. X details his life under the influence through most of the story. Perhaps, to understand him, it would be best to do the same.