it's true her solo output has yet to catch up with her fast-rising
fame, that reality is about to change. Enter the second release
from Kim's own Queen Bee label, an incendiary second solo
album that finds her teaming with co-executive producer Sean
a true artist," said Combs of Kim in Vibe. "She's a perfectionist."
pursuit of that perfection began last year at Combs's own
New York City studio, Daddy's House, and included input from
such serious producer talents as Puffy's Bad Boy compadre/solo
artist Mario "Yellowman" Winans, with Deric "D-Dot" Angelettie,
Bad Boy studio team member Nasheim Myrick, Rockwilder, Younglord,
Jerome "Knowbody" Foster, Carlos Broady, Kanye West, Fury
For The New Jeru, Darren "Limitless" Henson, and Shaft.
album action gets rolling in the Puffy-produced courtroom
drama-styled "Lil' Drummer Boy," which finds Kim laying out
her defense alongside Cee-Lo of Atlanta's famed Goodie Mob
& Jersey hip hop guru Redman, and continues with the defiant
autobiographical joint, "Custom Made (Give It To You)," and
the new Brooklyn-centric hip hop theme song, "Who's Number
by the studio duo of Rated R (Coolio) & Mas, the slow rolling,
flamenco-flavored head-anthem, "Suck My D**k," is Kim's bold
new chapter in the book of feminine power. On the 007-meets-rap
Rambo drama of the Puffy-produced "Revolution," Kim teams
with the one-and-only Grace Jones and Junior M.A.F.I.A.-man/Queen
Bee solo artist Lil' Cease for a true beat-driven cinemascape
- in which she memorably answers Puffy with the true Kim-ism,
"I'll be down in a minute, I'm drinking a Snapple."
was a ball of fire," Kim has said of her work with Jones.
"I went to the Bahamas recently to finish part of my album,
and she was there doing a show. She found me in the studio,
and we partied for the whole weekend."
the Knight Rider-flowing "How Many Licks," Kim delves into
sexual politics amid lollipopping discussions of sweaty South
of the Border antics, to which R&B Romeo vocalist Sisqo provides
a pulsating melodic heart, and an undeniably funky soul. With
the beat-bouncing, Caribbean-inspired "No Matter What They
Say," Kim brings a smooth vocal delivery to the track's wildly
hum-able chorus as she breaks down the details of the Queen
Bee lifestyle - "I get paid just for laying in the shade/to
take pictures with a glass of lemonade" - and purposefully
takes on all would-be detractors. Saucy and salacious, "She
Don't Love You" stands as Kim's declaration of total sexual
supremacy over all comers. Yeah, Kim really knows what a girl
In reprising her "HARD CORE" fave, Kim pairs with Puffy on
"Queen Bitch Pt 2," a track that sends the artist one bold
step forward to the front of the rap pack. Jumping up with
a large measure of step-back bravado, "Don't Mess With Me"
brings Pat Benetar into the ring as Kim kisses, reminisces,
and then dismisses - telling all pretenders, "I'm that bitch!"
Calling on her Junior M.A.F.I.A. comrades for a classic posse
cut, she gets down into the thug mix with "Do What You Like,"
while both the Lil' Cease collaboration of "Off The Wall"
and the high-flying "I'm Human" provide the album with some
serious house party dancefloor diamonds. Kim shines alongside
the sweet, soulful vocals of Mr. Carl Thomas on "Right Now,"
a record that resides within Suzanne Vega's "Tom's Diner"
in recounting a pulse-speeding inter-personal close encounter.
Given a hand from new Queen Bee artist Lil' Shanice, Kim brings
the proceedings to a more mellow flow for the reflective "Aunt
Dot," a track about growing up and coping with those cyclical
NOTORIOUS K.I.M." gravitates to an emotional and inspirational
center with the heart-wrenching hip hop ballad, "Hold On."
The song, which features a stirring vocal performance from
best friend and fellow Viva Glam III Lipstick spokesperson
Mary J. Blige, goes a long way in explaining how Biggie has
earned his executive producer's credit and title tribute on
a song I wrote for Big," she said of "Hold On" in The Source.
"I could only get through it once. I would always break down
two ladies met nearly six years ago, when Junior M.A.F.I.A.
shared a bill with the headlining Mary J.
taught me always to go with my first instinct and always to
be a woman," Kim said of Mary in Interview. "She said, 'Kim,
you are a strong, beautiful, and smart woman. You can make
your own decisions.'"
Kim reveals throughout the course of "THE NOTORIOUS K.I.M.,"
she's made all the right decisions, just as she's revealed
the many facets of her compelling character. Kimberly Denise
Jones's evolution into one of hip hop's true superstars began
when the native of Brooklyn's Bed-Stuy neighborhood crossed
paths with another young superstar-in-the-making, Christopher
lived on the same block in Brooklyn," said Kim in Interview,
running down the circumstances of their meeting. "I always
thought he was cute, and when I first started talking to him,
I felt like I'd known him for years. I was working at Bloomingdales
and friends of mine said to him, 'You know, Kim knows how
to rap.' He was like, 'Please! She's too cute to know how
was in the early '90s that Wallace - by then know to all as
the Notorious B.I.G. - turned hip hop impresario, channeling
his growing industry clout into launching the Brooklyn rap
collective Junior M.A.F.I.A. (Junior Masters At Finding Intelligent
Attitudes). The moment for Lil' Kim had arrived.
thought I was just going to be this little female in the back,
this girl he'd put in the group because he loved me," Kim
once said. "But when we came out, everyone loved our songs
'Get Money' and 'Player's Anthem,' and we blew up." Also comprised
of The 6's (Lil' Cease, Chico, Nino Brown); the Snakes (cousins
Trife and Larceny); and Solo MC Klepto, the group entered
the top 10 of the Billboard 200 in September of 1995 with
its Undeas/Big Beat/Atlantic debut album, "CONSPIRACY." As
the album crashed into the #2 spot of the Billboard R&B chart,
Junior M.A.F.I.A. hit the road for their first major tour,
opening shows across the U.S. for Biggie. That fall, the JM
kept it rolling as they scored RIAA gold with their "Player's
Anthem" single, the record that notably put the spotlight
on Kim and Cease. In less than a year, the group earned RIAA
platinum with both its "Get Money" single and the "CONSPIRACY"
was then that Kim and Biggie laid plans for "HARD CORE," the
Undeas/Big Beat/Atlantic debut that would team Kim with a
host of top producers, including Puffy, Jermaine Dupri, Prestige,
and High Class - while enjoying some serious support from
partners in rhyme, Junior M.A.F.I.A.
November of 1996, Kim stepped out in record-breaking solo
fashion with a #11 (with a bullet) debut on the Billboard
200 for "HARD CORE," marking what was the highest-ever debut
for a female hip-hop artist on that chart. The album's impressive,
out-of-the-box achievements were driven in part by the break-out
success of Kim's debut single, "No Time," a nine-weeks-at-#1
rap chart smash that featured none other than Puffy. In addition
to receiving critical acclaim in such publications as The
Source (three-and-a-half mics), Billboard, and Elle, Kim was
spotlighted in a Source profile titled "Momma Superior: As
Rap's Newest Female Soloist, Lil' Kim Leaves The Inhibitions
At The Door And Gives The World A Taste Of What Young Sexuality
Is All About." It's the kind of headline she'd inspire again
herself sexually like a hip-hop Millie Jackson, Kim's ribald
accounts of healthy sexual appetite come off as empowering,"
said Time Out. "Kim is a revolutionary figure in the sense
that she's a woman who is articulating the same perverted
thoughts that men have been rhyming about for years," said
CMJ in their "Dope!"-rated review. Spin concurred, stating
"Lil' Kim is possessed of so much natural panache and audacity
that she packs the attack of a 50-foot woman."
was just being myself," says Kim of "HARD CORE." "Now there
are so many women out there doing what I did."
to her solo coming out party, Kim added her voice to tracks
by the likes of Skin Deep, the Isley Brothers, Mona Lisa,
and Total, in addition to contributing her "HARD CORE" cut,
"Queen B@$#H," to the RIAA gold Big Beat/Atlantic soundtrack
to 1996's High School High. She also joined with Junior M.A.F.I.A.
on the platinum-certified soundtrack to the 1996 feature film
Sunset Park with "We Don't Need It" (which Kim also recorded
for "HARD CORE"). On March 5, 1997, Kim earned RIAA gold with
"No Time." However, after March 9th, her life would never
be the same: That night, Biggie was shot to death while leaving
an industry event at the Petersen Automotive Museum in the
Mid-Wilshire District of Los Angeles.
he died, honestly, I wanted to remain a baby for a while,"
said Kim. "He was everything to me. My father, brother, and
mentor. He would tell me when to go to sleep, when to wake
up. It was crazy."
had a plan for me," she added. "He always told me I'd be rich,
but more than that, he wanted me to be happy. He contributed
so much to my life - and he still does. He's with me every
day, he's with me in my music, and with my musical family
- Lil' Cease, D-Roc, and the Mafia. I'll always love him with
all my heart."
the end of 1997, Kim's RIAA track record continued with platinum
awards for "HARD CORE" and "Not Tonight." In between the release
of "HARD CORE" and "THE NOTORIOUS K.I.M.," - as she struggled
to cope with her loss - Kim contributed to recordings by Jay-Z,
Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott, Mobb Deep, Funkmaster Flex, Black
Rob, and even Tommy Lee's Methods of Mayhem.
In March of 1998, Puffy invited Kim to sign on as one of the
featured performers on his all-star "Bad Boy Tour," one of
rap's most successful road shows. Just last year, Kim made
her small screen debut in the season finale of VIP, the popular
series launched by gal pal Pamela Anderson. Recent endorsement
deals with MAC Cosmetics, Candie's shoes, and Iceberg jeans
have combined to push Kim even further into the national consciousness.
Kim has also earned a pair of Soul Train/Lady of Soul awards,
took the stage as a presenters at the VH1 Fashion Awards and
The Source Awards.
Kim's rhymes tell the tale of a young woman who, regardless
of her many accomplishments, still knows how to find her way
home - even as her Jersey crib calls her to cross the Hudson
and Hollywood continues to beckon her West. Kim made her big
screen debut in 1999's She's All That alongside the likes
of Freddie Prinz, Jr. (I Know What You Did Last Summer), Kevin
Pollack (The Usual Suspects, Casino, From The Earth To The
Moon), Anna Paquin (The Piano, X-Men) and Matthew Lillard
summer, on The Biz front, Kim made her introductions as the
CEO of her own Queen Bee Records with the release of "THE
WONDERFUL WORLD OF CEASE-A-LEO," the solo debut from Lil'
Cease - which notably featured the Cease/Kim collaboration,
"Play Around." Kim again rocked the industry at last year's
MTV Video Music Awards, making all the gossip columns after
Miss Diana Ross acknowledged her with a love tap to her left
one - to which many culture vultures assigned as the Queen
Bee's symbolic welcome to the big time. "People always make
a big deal out of nothing," Kim said of the dirty Diana incident.
"Behind stage, she and I kicked it. She was like the most
down-to-earth icon I've ever met! Plus, I was so happy just
to be part of that event and, for me, it was a historic moment."
As further testament to her star power, earlier this year
Kim was invited to induct Earth, Wind & Fire into the Rock
And Roll Hall of Fame during ceremonies held at the Waldorf-Astoria
in New York. Among her fellow presenter that evening were
such legends as Paul McCartney, Diana Ross, Patti Smith, and
John Mellencamp. While anticipation for the new album has
reached juggernaut proportions, Kim has appeared - complete
with wigged-out fashion spreads - on the covers of such publications
as Vibe, The Source, Out, XXL, Genre, Sister 2 Sister, Honey,
and Interview - which became one of the magazine's biggest
capacity to calculate what you want her to be and then become
it - a skill she honed in the streets of Brooklyn, N.Y. -
makes her damn near interactive," wrote Robert Marriott in
his Kim cover story for the June/July issue of Vibe. "Raunchy,
vulnerable, demure. Mae West. Bessie Smith. Lady Godiva. Blue-eyed
Barbarella, aqua-haired ghetto mermaid - she's the virtual
black girl staring at you from billboards and magazine covers
in a dazzling array of guises."
take bits and pieces from everybody," said Kim of her many
fashion influences. "I've always studied the fashion of women
who were beautiful and glamorous - Marilyn Monroe, Dorothy
Dandridge, Millie Jackson, Tina Turner, Eartha Kitt, Josephine
Baker, even Brooke Shields. I always loved the way Cher looked,
and Donny and Marie. A lot of credit goes to my mom as well.
She's got a great sense of style."
However, no matter how much of herself Kim reveals, there
remains an unknowable side - the part of the road map she
has yet to unfold.
think God has a plan for me," Kim has said. "There are some
people who still don't understand. But I know by the end of
my fulfillment they will."