It's hard to argue Lil' Kim's status as royalty. Coming in the game under the tutelage of The Notorious B.I.G. would be enough to be mentioned in the annals of rap history as a footnote, but Lil' Kim is much more than that and has managed to stand on her own two feet for two decades.
Lil' Kim first made waves in 1995 as a member of Junior M.A.F.I.A. on the release of the group's debut album, Conspiracy. The Brooklyn rhymer emerged as a star of the group and created anticipation for her debut album, Hardcore.
Released in fall of 1996, Hardcore was a huge success for a solo debut, selling over two million copies and positioning Lil' Kim as the hottest female rapper in the game. Tragedy struck in March 1997 with the death of Biggie, leaving Kim grieving and unsure of what she would do moving forward.
Spending the next few years popping up on a slew of remixes and dropping guest verses on other artists' records, Lil' Kim released her sophomore LP, The Notorious K.I.M., on June 27, 2000. The album debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 chart and sold over 229,000 copies in its first week of release. The album went platinum soon after that, and Kim was recognized as one out of a few female rappers who managed to earn two consecutive platinum solo albums at that time.
In celebration of the album's anniversary, we take a look back at The Notorious K.I.M. album and select the five tracks that are still worthy of a spin or two.Did your favorite make the cut? Check it out below.
Lil' Kim takes it back to the streets of Bed Stuy, Brooklyn with the posse cut, "Do What You Like." Produced by Shaft, this tune sees Kim dialing up her Junior Mafia cronies for a little bit of hardcore, with each contestant rising to the occasion in a big way. The song sets it off with an impressive lead-off verse, and Lil Cease follows up with a dominant 16-bars of his own. "New Years Blimp wit' B.I.G. name on it / Iceberg Sweaters wit Kim name on it / Caesar Lee, tee wit Big blood stain on it / Every time I sign a check, I put a thug's name on it," he raps. Kim catches wreck herself with the closing verse, but plays the back and lets Junior M.A.F.I.A. get the spotlight.
"Who's Number One" sees Lil' Kim reminding the competition of who's the alpha-female in the rap game. Produced by Young Lord, the beat contains a sample of Eddie Kendrick's "Keep On Truckin'," which listeners may also remember Mr. Cheeks' sampling it for his 2001 hit, "Lights, Camera, Action." The Queen Bee gets cold with the flow and sending hollow-tipped darts at her rap competitors with the grace of a real rap legend.
Lil' Kim drops a slew of subliminal disses and direct shots at various rappers on the aggressive title track. The first target in Kim's onslaught is her longtime rival, Foxy Brown. "This chick running around with a stink-ass gap / And her fake ass raps having panic attacks," she spits. Even fellow label-mates aren't safe. Take for instance Shyne, whom many initially took umbrage with due to what they believed as him jacking Notorious B.I.G.'s vocal style. But Lil Kim took it a step further with her vitriol of him and showed no remorse for the rapper's dire legal situation at that time.
"How Many Licks"Featuring Sisqo
Lil' Kim gets back to her raunchy ways on "How Many Licks" featuring R&B crooner Sisqo on the hook. The Queen Bee shows that success has not tempered her sexual innuendo by taking a Tootsie Pops advertisement and flipping it into a sexual anthem for women that love oral sex. Produced by Mario Winans and Diddy, the song was a marginal hit and fell short of the success of previous singles. The song's accompanying visual was a staple on video countdowns for its eye-popping imagery and Kim's assets on display. While we never found out how many licks it actually took, at least we were lucky enough to be blessed with a hot song from Lil' Kim.
"No Matter What They Say"
"No Matter What They Say," the lead single from Notorious K.I.M., almost didn't come to be. While Lil' Kim's record company were convinced that the song was a hit, she wasn't enamored with it. Instead, she was pulling for another song, "The Queen," to be released as the first single. When all was said and done, "The Queen" was left off of the album after being leaked online and "No Matter What They Say" was picked as the kick-off single. The result: The song peaked at No. 15 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and set the stage for the release of her sophomore album in a festive way.