Last night, I met Aliya S. King at the Columbus Circle Borders book signing of her new book “Platinum.” I’ve followed her career for a few years now–she’s a talented and experienced magazine journalist with a hilarious and entertaining blog, so when I got my hands on an advanced copy of “Platinum” a few months ago, I was eager to read it. A few weeks ago, I had sent Aliya a review of the book that I intended to post on my blog.
After she read it, I didn’t want to post it since I wanted it to just be for her, but when she told me last night that she truly appreciated it, I decided to share an abridged version on the blog.
“Platinum” by Aliya S King: 4/5 Stars
I started reading it on Friday of Memorial Day weekend and finished it Sunday night, and the only reason it even took that long was because I had the typical Memorial Day cookouts and trips to the pool in between. I’ll admit, at first, I was a little weary because of the title. The name “Platinum” sounded like street lit, which isn’t exactly my cup of tea. But from knowing King’s work (her Vibe story on the death of Al Green’s gf was seriously eye-opening–check it out HERE) I knew it would be a great read, and from the first chapter I was literally riveted and had to keep reading from chapter to chapter.
The book is a look into the lives of fictional wives and significant others of rappers and entertainers. There are not-so-thinly veiled references to real stars (if you read the book, I see Jake and Kipenzi as Beyonce and Jay-z, Clare and Zander as Rihanna and Chris Brown, etc. King revealed at the reading last night that Z and his wife are loosely based off DMX and his wife Tashera). The book is truly supported by King’s writing from each character’s perspective. She really created personalities and points of views for each persona that made it hard for me to pick a favorite–I even felt empathy for Cleo, the character that closely emulates Karinne aka Superhead. Also, the way King leaves the reader hanging at the end of each chapter makes you want to speed through to find out what happens next, and left me grateful to hear that King signed a book deal for the sequel.
The negative: it did feel like a more modern version of a book I had read before (it really, especially with the cover art, reminded me of Erica Kennedy’s “Bling”) but I think that comes along with the genre and isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Books about the hip-hop/r&b industry with hidden references to real people are all kind of in the same realm. I think, however, that the audience that’s reading these kinds of books need something that isn’t just trashy and all about drugs and video girls but something that’s smart and funny, which King provided.
So overall, it wasn’t exactly a deep-life changing book, but it’s great for the lighthearted who are looking for a really entertaining and accurate portrayal of the world of hip-hop and the music industry. And as King said last night, when she used to think about writing a book, she thought of deep, African-American, Zora Neale Hurston style literature. But then she shared that she realized, at the end of the day, “writers just write.” And as an aspiring author myself, that’s a quote I’ll never forget.