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After strolling down the cracked boulevards of Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn - looking ghetto-queen lean and chocolate-wine fine - the mack momma who answers to the name Lil' Kim (Kimberly Denise Jones) is rocking rugged on her Undeas/Big Beat/Atlantic debut disc, "Hardcore." The lieutenant for Junior M.A.F.I.A., Kim has already been heard on the group's gold-selling album, "Conspiracy," and completed cool cameos on singles by Skin Deep, the Isley Brothers, Mona Lisa, and Total, in addition to dropping a cut on the hot, gold-certified motion-picture soundtrack to "High School High."
"The solo project was a lot harder to do because I wrote it all," says Kim. "Plus I was going through a lot of drama... business and personal. I'm real pleased with how everything turned out though. What made it all possible is my faith in God."
With a voice as sweet as syrup and lyrics that are as wild as a Vanessa Del Rio flick, the diminutive diva backs the tracks layered by producers Sean "Puffy" Combs, Jermaine Dupri, Stevie J., Nashiem, Prestige, High Class, and Cornbread. "I like ghetto-melodic beats with lots of bass, guitars and piano," states Kim.
Unlike other female MCs who drop PC verses, Kim crashes through the rap-scapes with a rawness that is rare. She's honest in her explorations of sexual freedom, and - although she's been attacked by hip-hop conservatives for being too nasty - she flexes the female liberation that a generation of women fought for not so long ago. "I'm a very sexual person," insists Kim, "and what I'm revealing on my album is my personality and experiences."
"Big Momma Thang," which features that black Roc-A-Fella, Jay-Z, bites back at some of the pesky insects annoying Kim. The song "M.A.F.I.A. Land," meanwhile, shines a light on how Lil' Kim rolls and who she hangs with. "I used to associate a lot with girls," she says. "But they were always talkin' a whole lotta he-say-she-say, getting into trouble and taking me along. Now I hang with my niggas, especially Biggie Smalls, who I owe 85% of my career to; he's the one that gave me and the rest of Junior M.A.F.I.A. our shot at stardom."
Another cut, "Spend A Little Doe," details a past relationship with an ungrateful hustler, who gave Kim up to the cops when a street situation got hot. Then there's "No Time," which opens with the Moet-cool of Puffy's smoky voice. The song is the latest player's anthem in the lexicon of GQ. With a beat that bounces like a pimp with a bullet in his leg, "No Time" is the perfect soundtrack for ghetto femme fatales, Rolex-staring like black cats in the darkness.
Born in Brooklyn, Kim lived ghetto-comfortable with her mom and dad until she was 9. At that age her parents split up and she moved in with her father. But, she recalls, "things started getting bad and he kicked me out." She lived with friends and turned to the streets for sustenance. "I always loved music, though, and when Biggie found out I could rhyme he helped put me on," she says.
Lil' Kim introduced herself to the world on the Junior M.A.F.I.A. single "Player's Anthem" and was also featured on the group's follow-up "Get Money." With pinches of inner-city street ego slipping from her crimson-hued lips and lots of sexually-spiced subject matter (hot as a gushing volcano), Kim refuses to be restricted by the repressed minds who judge her style. Much like a black female haunted by the ghost of Henry Miller, Kim fashioned "Hard Core" as an exotic black-light soundtrack that busts through the barriers of uncut funk and censored language.
Whether hanging with her homies or dropping phat lines, Lil' Kim ushered in a new style for female wild childs to follow. "I'm gonna keep doin' what I'm doin' cuz it's workin'," she says.
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