Elevate Difference


One thing to know about Platinum is that it’s about women in the hip-hop industry—several types of women. To narrow it down, there are four voices compiling the novel, each one narrating a different perspective of the industry, each one fulfilling a particular role. There’s the rapper’s devoted wife who turns a blind eye and tolerates STDs due to his infidelities. We have the powerful mogul who has everything in life (including a koi pond in her home) but only longs for a child. There’s also a hip-hop diva whose retirement at thirty throws everyone by surprise. Lastly, we have the woman supposed to be our heroine, a music journalist involved in a secret engagement to an up-and-coming hip-hop artist. Yet for every heroine there’s a villain and in this case the villain is Cleo, a promiscuous woman who has slept with almost every man in the hip-hop world, including the men involved with each woman mentioned above. The catch? Cleo is writing a tell-all book about her affairs. As she describes in the introduction to her own book, Cleo separates herself from all the “other women”:

“Being with me is an honor. I’m not a commoner. And contrary to popular belief, I don’t have sex with everyone. If you’ve been with me, you’ve achieved something. I’m a benchmark. Like going platinum.”

Platinum gives great insight to the hip-hop world. It describes a tense atmosphere filled with social climbing schemes from four different perspectives. As entertaining as these intertwining plots are, however, the pace is slow and the individual stories an ounce too overdramatic. One problem is that although there are several women, they all sound exactly like one voice. Whether deliberate or not there’s still a feeling of stagnation with all the story lines. All of the women suffer due to their relationships, men being their common woe. Even if they deal with their issues differently, it all narrows down to infidelity and their power to forgive.

With so much drama and so many characters it would be easy to get caught up in the pace. However, it’s difficult to really care about any of the individual women. Cleo in particular appears one-dimensional: she’s a woman who has pride and joy in wreaking chaos and devastation, yet as readers we never see why since there’s no background to her story and we don’t know why she takes so much joy in inflicting pain. Although she claims to never have been molested or had a troublesome youth it seems unrealistic that a well-adjusted woman would invest all her energy using her sexuality to humiliate women in particular. This is problematic as she catapults the whole novel.

As a whole, Platinum is entertaining in the sense that it describes an exclusive world, the hip-hop world explicitly. This novel is the type of book to read at the beach or during a very long plane ride, almost like a bad (but entertaining) movie that you will never think of or pick up again.

Written by: Jessica Sánchez, December 9th 2010
Tags: novel, hip hop