In her debut novel Bling
, Erica Kennedy exposes the dark underside of the hip-hop recording industry in the same way The Nanny Diaries
outed the Park Avenue elite. Kennedy charts the course of Mimi, a small-town girl from Ohio who is discovered by Lamont Jackson, a hip-hop mogul who discards of gym clothing after one use and sends potential bedmates to his personal physician for a full work-up before hitting the sheets. Secondary characters like Lena Whitaker, the spoiled daughter of an LA lawyer who unknowingly foots the bill for trinkets like a $15,000 diamond necklace for Crazy G, Lena's booty call of the month, and Lamont's cocaine-snorting, Gucci-wearing, sister-in-law Vanessa de la Cruz, quickly become Mimi's image and social consultants. Rounding out the crew are a host of rappers who work for Lamont, including Ernesto, aka Phat E, a bear of a man who "raps about his slick girl-getting abilities" yet goes home every night to his high-school sweetheart Renee, who "was proud to walk the halls with Ernesto even though he had ballooned to 280 pounds by senior prom."
Bling takes readers on an insider's tour of the world of parties in the Hamptons, VIP lounges, fashion shows, and Tribeca penthouses. In fact, the tour is so intimate that many readers will recognize thinly veiled faces along the way, like Ally C., the blond-haired, blue-eyed publicist from Long Island, and Irv Greene, the aging music executive from Brooklyn. Kennedy leaves no stone unturned; there's even a prepubescent rapper aptly named Billy Tha Kid. All these details make for a very long book, and by the end, readers may find themselves skimming the pages to find out what eventually happens. Still, for anyone who has ever wondered what goes through the minds of P. Diddy and his entourage as they emerge from the Escalade, Bling promises to enthrall and entertain. --Gisele Toueg
From Publishers Weekly
Hip-hop's sexed-up commercial side meets its gangsta roots in this sassy beach read debut. Eternal playboy Lamont Jackson is the larger-than-life head of hip-hop label Triple Large Entertainment, and Mimi Jean, a sexy, naïve 20-year-old with golden pipes, is his newest protégé. Mimi's whirlwind life among New York's glitterati is paved with Lamont's money and guided with either love or malice by his many hangers-on, including wild child Lena, level-headed assistant Imani and height-challenged A&R rep Daryl. Mimi gets the makeover of her life in her rise to the top—a vocal coach, a new wardrobe and a boob job—as Lamont grooms his star. The label's gangsta-style rappers (Flo$$, Radickulys, MC Grimy, etc.) introduce a bit of badass into Mimi's glossy world. And it doesn't take long until Lamont and sweet little Mimi are burning up the sheets. The writing is pretty pedestrian, but who cares? Kennedy offers salacious details to spice up the already over-the-top premise. A firmer editorial hand could have chopped out a couple hundred pages and made the tale sleeker and just as lip-smacking. But then readers wouldn't get to play as many games of who's-really-who: was Lena inspired by Nicole Richie? Is Mimi Mariah Carey and Lamont Sonny Mottolla? Entertainment journalist Kennedy should find her own star rising with this urban fairy tale.
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