The Crusader Newspaper Group

‘Her Word is Bond’ is a deep dive into the business of hip hop

Her Word is Bond

My daughter, Psalm One (Cristalle Bowen), is receiving local and national acclaim for her first book, a memoir that she titled: “Her Word is Bond: Navigating Hip Hop and Relationships in a Culture of Misogyny.” It’s printed from Chicago’s Haymarket press and has been out a few months.

She is a legend to rap nerds, scholars, and hip hop heads. She has worked with the brightest names in rap, and her work has been celebrated and taught around the globe. She’s telling her story from growing up on the South Side in Chicago, through her life as a chemist, a teacher and a legendary rapper.

Since its release, Psalm One has been around the east coast, the Midwest and locally on book tours to sign copies to enthusiastic fans.

The book goes into depth about Psalm One’s hip hop career, a job she has been working hard at since she was a student at Whitney Young High School in the mid- to late 90s.

Starting out at poetry slams at Chopin on North Milwaukee Avenue to sneaking across state lines to Indiana as a senior to sharpen her rap skills, Psalm One has been tenacious in carving out her livelihood, churning out multiple albums, while living in parts of California and more recently in Minneapolis.

Locally, she has been interviewed by Chicago journalist Jill Hopkins and held court at Women and Children’s First Bookstore, among others. A tour of the east coast included Brooklyn, Baltimore and other cities, with a scheduled in-person reading at Duke University being reset to online due to Hurricane Ian.

The book shares Psalm One’s struggles and misogyny hurled at her as the first female artist on Minneapolis indie record label Rhymesayers. She discusses her sexuality, sobriety journey and triumphant tours within the country and across the globe in Germany, Paris, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Switzerland and other exciting destinations.

Chapters within the more than 300-page memoir include “Today Was A Good Year,” “There’s No Crying In The Studio,” “The Rhyme Sayer With The Vagina,” “My Bio Is Chemistry,” among other raw, personal chapters.

Psalm One talks about going to William H. Ray school in Hyde Park before going to Whitney Young and then to the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign to earn a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry.

Her Word is Bond
(LEFT) PSALM ONE (Cristalle Bowen) (Top-Right). One of the author’s first book signings at Women and Children’s First bookstore in Chicago. (Bottom-Right) Book jacket cover for ‘Her Word Is Bond: Navigating Hip Hop and Relationships in a Culture of Misogyny.’

She does a deep dive into Ice Cube, Digable Planets, Nirvana, Snoop Dogg and other artists whose work had an impact on her burgeoning hip hop career.

In her words, regarding the authenticity of her music: “I have a degree in chemistry, I’m on the board of an organization, I can do a lot of things to take care of myself. So, when it comes to the music, I just want to remain true to my story.”

But after more than two decades, she has persevered and, with much humility and strength, tells her story to help others as a precautionary tale for especially women in the industry. A hip hop primer, if you will.

“I am so thankful to be able to share myself with y’all in this way. It’s been a bumpy road, but it’s been an awesome trip. The stories and insight in these pages have been valuable to me, and I know somebody out there can learn even more by reading my story.”

Accolades for ‘Her Word is Bond’ include:

“If there’s one voice missing from the ongoing conversation about representation, equity, and the intersection between queerness, the femme experience, and Black lives in the hip hop scene—it’s Psalm One’s.

“And we know that Cristalle Bowen has always championed for the rights and protections of those most neglected and harmed by the music industry—Black womxn—but in Her Word is Bond, readers receive an in-depth look at the complex and vibrant brilliance that is the renegade known as Psalm One” —Faylita Hicks, Author, Poet, 2021 Shearing Fellow and Recording Academy Member

“I have the utmost respect and admiration for Psalm One – not just as a rapper and artist but as someone who lives by their word and always stands for something. Her story is one that needs to be told, and I highly recommend this memoir to all, especially those looking to jump into the world of professional music.”—Andrew Barber, Hip Hop Historian, Recording Academy Member and owner of the iconic FAKESHOREDRIVE platform.

“Her Word Is Bond is a long overdue and necessary memoir about not only fighting other people’s expectations, assumptions and projections about who you are while constantly feeling judged, marginalized, tokenized, exploited and under-represented. Psalm One is brutally honest about the struggles of just trying to function in a male dominated, black & white binary world when she should’ve been given the support, space and freedom to grow and thrive.” —Dart Adams, Journalist, Historian/Researcher and Author of “Best Damn Hip Hop Writing: The Book of Dart,” among others.

I am proud of my daughter for all her accomplishments, which she has achieved mostly on her own and recommend this book for everyone.

“Her Word is Bond: Navigating Hip Hop and Relationships in a Culture of Misogyny” can be purchased at most online marketplaces and through

Recent News

Scroll to Top