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On The Come Up: Character Guide

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A guide for Angie Thomas’ book “On The Come Up.” Noted are characters, notable events, locations, and items, amongst other information about the book.


Please Note: This content contains pertinent spoilers, descriptions are updated as new information is presented, and this is not an exhaustive list of every character or event.

General Information

Creator(s)Angie Thomas
First Published2/5/2019

Official Synopsis

Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least win her first battle. As the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri’s got massive shoes to fill.

But it’s hard to get your come up when you’re labeled a hoodlum at school, and your fridge at home is empty after your mom loses her job. So Bri pours her anger and frustration into her first song, which goes viral . . . for all the wrong reasons.

Bri soon finds herself at the center of a controversy, portrayed by the media as more menace than MC. But with an eviction notice staring her family down, Bri doesn’t just want to make it—she has to. Even if it means becoming the very thing the public has made her out to be.

Insightful, unflinching, and full of heart, On the Come Up is an ode to hip hop from one of the most influential literary voices of a generation. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; and about how, especially for young black people, freedom of speech isn’t always free.

Groups & Organizations

  • Garden Disciples (Part 1/ Chapter 1):
  • The Unholy Trinity (Part 1/ Chapter 1): What Malik, Sonny, and Brianna are called partly due to them being friends, but also second-generation friends since their mothers are not only cool but were pregnant at the same time.
  • King Lord (Part 1, Chapter 3): The main gang in Garden Heights
  • Crown (Part 1, Chapter 3): One of the largest sets of the King Lords

Notable Locations & Items

  • Garden Heights High (Part 1, Chapter 1): The local high school
  • The Ring (Part 1, Chapter 1): A legendary battle rap location
  • Christ Temple (Part 1, Chapter 1): Another legendary battle rap location
  • Midtown School of the Arts (Part 1, Chapter 1): The school Brianna, Trey, Malik, and Sonny go/ went to.

Other Noteworthy Information

  • Shared Universe (Part 1, Chapter 2): With it being noted they are in Garden Heights as well as the riots when a cop wasn’t charged, it is likely this is in the same universe as T.H.U.G.

Brianna Jackson

Brianna is a 16-year-old girl who has been rapping since she was 10, enjoys a good snapback hat, and at one time wanted to get into Markham or Howard University. However, between suspensions and her desire to develop a rap career through battle rapping, she is going all-in with rapping and letting her grades slip away.

Additional Information About Brianna

  • Introduced In Part 1/ Chapter 1
  • Is redbone and favors her dad with them having the same smile and dimples. (Part 1, Chapter 1)
  • Her full name is Brianna Marie Jackson, but she prefers to be called Bri. (Part 1, Chapter 3)

Quotes & Gifs

Compliments […] are part of the parental responsibilities […] took on when […] evicted from [the] womb.
— Brianna (Page 9)

[…] she didn’t say it was nothing. She said it’s nothing for me to worry about. Difference.
— Brianna (Page 19)

[…] you can only spell “brilliant” by first spelling Bri.
— Brianna (Page 40)

Aunt Pooh

Brianna’s aunt, who is 26, was raised by her older sister, Brianna’s mom, Jay, since their mother died when Pooh was one and their dad when Pooh was 9. She is a member of the Garden Disciple’s, has green braids, a scar on her cheek, and multiple tattoos, which include an impression of her girlfriend, Lena’s, lips.

Pooh also can be credited for getting Brianna into rap through Nas’ Illmatic, and the Notorious B.I.G.

Additional Information About Aunt Pooh

  • Introduced In Part 1, Chapter 2

Quotes & Gifs

Malik

A member of the Unholy Trinity who is tall and rocks a high top fade. Also, he is known to almost always have a camera on him.

Additional Information About Mailk

  • Introduced In Part 1, Chapter 1

Quotes & Gifs

Jackson “Sonny”

Jackson is named after Brianna’s grandparents, and is noted to be light-skinned and, according to Brianna, looks like a hobbit.

Additional Information About

  • Introduced In Part 1, Chapter 1

Quotes & Gifs

Trey

Brianna’s older brother, who is famous at Midtown School of the Arts, went to Markham and graduated with honors, but now is back home and works at a pizza parlor.

Additional Information About Trey

  • Introduced In Part 1, Chapter 1
  • Graduated Magna Cum Laude and is one of the first on his mother’s side to get a college degree (Part 1, Chapter 1)
  • Performed in the Midtown School of the Arts production of “Raisin In The Sun.” (Part 1, Chapter 1)

Quotes & Gifs

Milez

The son of Supreme, who is around Brianna’s age, is brown-skinned, skinny, and has zigzags in his hair.

Additional Information About Milez

  • Introduced In Part 1, Chapter 2

Quotes & Gifs

Supreme

Milez’s father, as well as Lawless’ former manager, who is known for having dark shades and two gold fangs.

Additional Information About Supreme

  • Introduced In Part 1, Chapter 2

Quotes & Gifs

Lawless

Lawless is Trey and Brianna’s father, who died when Brianna was four. He was murdered in front of their old house, allegedly by a member of the Crown gang. Before his murder, however, he was a noted local rapper who was one of the members of Supreme’s roster. Also, it should be noted he fired Supreme not too long before his death.

Additional Information About Lawless

  • Introduced In Part 1, Chapter 3
  • Did his first mixtape, with Supreme, at 16 (Part 1, Chapter 3)

Quotes & Gifs

Jay

Jay is Pooh’s older sister, Lawless’ widow, and Brianna and Trey’s mother, who currently goes to school for a social work degree.

Additional Information About

  • Introduced In Part 1, Chapter 1
  • Drives a Jeep Cherokee (Part 1, Chapter 1)
  • Has multiple tattoos and scars from a past drug habit. (Part 1, Chapter 1)
    • Has been clean from drugs for 8 years (Part 1, Chapter 1)

Quotes & Gifs

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