DAR Hip Hop: Lil Kim's Hardcore

By @CherchezLaPorsh

1. Intro In A-Minor
2. Big Momma Thang
3. No Time
4. Spend A Little Doe
5. Take It
6. Crush On You
7. Drugs
8. Scheamin
9. Queen Bitch
10. Dreams
11. M.A.F.I.A Land
12. We Don't Need It
13. Not Tonight
14. Player Haters
15. Fuck You

I gotta take you guys back to 1994 when hip hop was taken by storm with the release of "Ready To Die". That was the first real exposure some of us had to the impact and absolute brilliance of BIG. He was always up to something: creating, rapping, making history, or simply leaving a legacy that would remain so far beyond his years. With this, in 1995, BIG would create the group Junior M.A.F.I.A, a group of 6 rappers all under the age of 20 at the time who would mirror BIG's style and continue to give hip hop banger after banger. Junior M.A.F.I.A would be our first exposure to Lil Kim. She was the only female in the group and the one person you could AWAYS expect to see nearby whenever BIG was around.

The first time I heard Lil Kim rap was in "Players Anthem" and I don't know if people remember her verse, but she really said "Bitches squeeze your tits, niggas grab your genitals". At the time I was a teen and had never heard anything that explicit, especially from a female MC. Needless to say, she had my attention along with everyone else's with her crude lyrics.

Let's fast forward another year to 1996. As many of us remember, this was a phenomenal year in hip hop filled with debut releases and sure enough, it was the year we would see Kim's debut album. She had been doing her thing and refining her lyrical abilities and flow so it was about time she gave us "Hardcore". I also remember when this album hit the shelves, in true Kim form it had our attention instantly, only this time she created an over-the-top sexually explicit image for herself. She brought New York rap style and true to the title, she gave us raw, hardcore lyrics. As much critique as she got for her explicitness, it worked in her favor, as this album is ranked among her very best and is a definite contender for classic status. Let’s take a look at the best of the 15 tracks that made this one of my favorite albums of all time...

Of course the album starts off with an intro and it should come as no surprise that it’s 2 1/2 minutes of audio porn in the background while this guy is pleasuring himself and yes you can hear everything...what I like about this is 2 things.

1) It’s explicit enough that you know exactly how the next 14 tracks are going to play out and 2) the way it ends and leads into the first track is brilliant as “Kim...yea...yea...work it BITCH...” ends it, and not even a split second later you get the first real track.

Now before I get into the first song, I have to say a couple of things. First, more than 50% of the tracks were written by BIG and on the production side of things, there’s a different producer for each actual song. That tells me lyrically there will be a whole bunch of BIG references, which is dope, the flow will be in much of the same style AND we'll get beat/sound variation which is always engaging for listeners.

“Big Momma Thang” featuring Lil Cease and Jay-Z kicks the album off. Let’s start with production, as Stretch Armstrong was responsible for this one. He sampled a jazzy soulful disco beat from Sylvester and looped it. Incredible choice, the beat is bouncy but soft, like a semi-banger, which is brilliant. It’s softer than Kim’s rapping and almost an obvious juxtaposition with the actual words she’s saying. Imagine the soft jazz instrumental with a bit of bounce accompanied by:

“Don'tcha like the way I roll,
And play wit' my bushy/
Tell me what's on your mind when your tongues in the pussy/”

I don’t know if as listeners we notice it, but it definitely accentuates the “hardcore” aspect of her rhymes. On the lyrical side, of course the opening line is in reference to BIG’s verse on “The What”, only the female version of it. So I definitely appreciate that and I have to also commend Kim on her ability to rhyme words and fit them in the beat:

“I got land in Switzerland, even got sand in the Marylands/
Bahamas in the spring/
Baby, it's a Big Momma thing/”

We get Cease on the chorus, and his voice is a great switch up against hers and of course Jay’s verse which has a whole bunch of references:

I got love/
And Big know it
He must got the studio bug/
Probably, as we speak/
He's on his way up the street/”

These 3 are incredible on this track together and although Cease was only 19 at the time, he sounds comfortable, confident and mature beyond his years. Incredible track and a great way to kick this off.

The next song Kim partners with Puffy in “No Time”, and as I’ve always said, wherever BIG is and whatever he's involved in, Puff is always an arm's length away, so OF COURSE he appears as a feature. As much as I throw shade on Puff, I like this song. The R&B infusion is heard immediately from the way this track starts. I don’t know how to describe that opening chime sound, but it’s an R&B signature accompanied with the piano. We can thank Stevie J for that.  Production-wise this is a dope track. Lyrically I love Kim’s verses, it’s the chorus I can do without. Puffy sounds too soft on it, like he’s seductively whispering on purpose, so it’s refreshing to hear BIG’s voice with “How you figure that your team can effect my cream?” and “I rely on Bed-Stuy to shut it down if I die”

Kim opens the first verse and the raw, vulgar lyrics are endless. That refined lyrical ability I talked about earlier is heard perfectly here.. and as filthy as this song is, it’s one of my favorites mainly because of her delivery, as here’s what I find impressive:

"I follow/
In the E-Class with the goggles/
96 models/
Bad Click on the stroll/
(Tell em how we roll) Cruise control/
Nothin make a woman feel betta/
than Berrettas and Amarettas/ butta leathers and mad chedda/
Chillin in a Benz with my ami-gos/
Tryin to stick a nigga for his pe-sos/
If you say so's, then I'm the same chick/
That you wanna get with, lick up in my twat/
Gotta hit the spot/”

Like I said as filthy as she is, it’s entertaining and fun to rap along with (minus some words). It has a staccato rhyme and she breaks up syllables perfectly. Each verse follows suit to make this very enjoyable.

The next track is “Spend A Little Doe” and as we know, new track means a new producer so on this one we have DJ Ski. Where do we know him from? Among other projects, he is noteworthy for his contribition to Jay-Z’s “Reasonable Doubt” album, so the beat is reminiscent of stuff we’ve heard elsewhere. Kim flexes her rigidity and gangster image on this, so the piano instrumental plays into that well. The sexual connotations and outright references aren’t as rampant compared to the previous songs, this one holds a little more anger, a little more frustration and an air of street life while she talks about her man being in jail and how it “use to be”. This is the closest we’re going to get to a story and as rugged as she tries to come off, she still maintains femininity with the chorus. This song is a great balance of both. Kim played this one well.

Immediately after this, we hear a short interlude with BIG talking a whole bunch of shit about fucking “the short one with the fat ass” and this is followed by “Crush On You”, you would think this is Lil Kim featuring Lil Cease with BIG on the hook...right? Very wrong!! This song has a whole entire real life dramatic component attached to it. The album version of this song only has Cease rapping and BIG on the hook. Kim is not on the track and the reason for that is, she was pregnant during the recording of the original and aborted her child, so she physically couldn’t appear on the song. It would later be released as a  “remix” single and Kim would appear on that version (which is also the version they made a music video for). Still a dope addition to her album. Cease and BIG did a fantastic job filling in, in her absence.

Halfway through the album and yes we get Kim back. “Drugs” is her track with just her and BIG. This song has a whole lot going on, the only way I can describe it is if New York City’s bustling streets were depicted in audio form, it’s THIS song. There’s a whirlwind of beats, instrumentals, lyrics, flows....and my attention is in several places at once so this song is dizzying, which is appropriate for a song titled Drugs and I have Fabian Hamilton to thank for all of that. It’s still a great song and I find BIG and Kim very complimentary and much to my surprise, Kim holds her own and doesn’t let BIG take all the shine. I love them together on this track.  These two were clever with the play on the word drugs, however you want to interpret it, it could either be about a man (or men) or about the substance...that’s left up to the listener, but here are examples:

“With the in-sane clan, man listen/
My position is lieutenant/
Like a block of hash, got the burners up in it/
Percent it/
I send it back to ya greasy”

“Can I feel ya/
All I wanna do is touch ya/
The ultimate rush, you're drugs baby”

Let's skip over the next interlude and get to the next song, which is my all time favorite Lil Kim song. I can’t say enough about this. BIG had a hand in writing on this as well as Kim herself and a couple others, so I have to give credit to the collective. The delivery and execution though is flawless. Carlos Broady and Nashiem Myrick are to thank (infinitely) for production and beat selection as well as the sample of Roberta Flack’s song. I have to start quoting because I absolutely love the way Kim raps on this entire track, the sexually charged lyrics are tasteful, but the literary devices and wordplay are what I love most. Here are my favorites:

If Peter Piper picked em, I betcha Biggie bust em/
He probably tried to fuck him/
I told him not to trust him/
Lyrically, I dust em/
Off like Pledge”

“Straight up apostles/
Now strictly niggaz that jostle/
Kill a nigga for the figure, how you figure?/
Your cheddar would be better/ Beretta inside of Beretta/
Nobody do it better/”

“In the tunnel in Eso's/
Sippin espresso/
Cappuchino wit Nino/
On a mission for the lucci creno/
I used to wear Moscino/”

That’s just a few examples, but this song has them in every other line. I love the “Biggie” and “Frank” references...like I said this is my go to song on this album and easily the best. Kim absolutely killed it and gave us a gem(in ’97 Mary J also used this exact beat in “I Can Love You”). It’s definitely worth a listen.

I’m going to skip a couple songs and get to the one featuring her homies Junior M.A.F.I.A (Trife and Cease) on “We Don’t Need It”. Now this is the filthiest of all filth tracks, BUT (and I can’t believe I’m saying this) it’s the most fun, honestly. Cease kicks off this song with the GREATEST delivery of “yeaaa-uhh Fuck that, yo, I want some pussy tonight” and one of my most favorite lyrics to ever come out of Cease’s mouth: “How you spell cash? C's and some hash” and it just goes from there, pure and utter entertainment. The verses are great and the concept of the chorus is even better. Cease and Kim go back and forth like a “guys vs. girls” thing, and like I said, the lyrics are the filthiest but they are also incredibly fun. There’s not a fan of this song that can listen to it without “rapping” along to:

If you aint suckin no dick we don't need it, we don't need it”

“If you aint lickin no clits, we don't want it, we don't want it”

And of course, Kim almost replies to the chorus with “Some bitches do and some bitches don't ride a dick til he bust..shit I know I won't...” and OF COURSE Cease has a reply to that. No need to quote anymore though, like I said the filth is at an astronomical level in this song but who cares, it’s fun, dope and such a perfect banger track. Junior Mafia was a fantastic feature on this and gave us an amazing song.

Did I say the track we just heard was the filthiest of all....well, I lied. “Not Tonight” takes the cake. This is hardcore audio porn. Actually, we can even credit Jermaine Dupri for his weird beat choice, which is probably fitting for this type of song. I think this track is pretty self-explanatory so I’ll let Kim’s lyrics do the talking:

"I know a dude named Jimmy used to run up in me..."
"Then this homey Jimmy/
He's screaming "Gimme/
Lay me on my back, bustin' nuts all in me.../"

"I know a dude named Ron Doo....Whisper in my ear he wanna get his fuck on I dug him/
So I fucked him/
It wasn't nothin/"

There is MUCH more, but you get the point, this is Lil Kim at her most "I don't give a fuck" and she wasn't afraid to vocalize it. Personally, this song is unnecessary, it's a bit much for me, but it does fit the concept. I respect her for the raw, unfiltered, uncut lyrics, but for me this track is a little extra. It would later be released as a remix, "Not Tonight (Ladies Night)", which I have to mention I love. It's nothing like this original and features some of my favorite female MC's. I also appreciate the track placement of this one, it's tucked away as the second to last song, so we aren't left with all this filth as a finisher (no pun intended)

Now we get to the last song abrasively titled "Fuck You" feat Junior Mafia again and BIG. This is your familiar '90's hip hop track. Definitely a great listen and a clear attempt at showing lyrical ability, which they do well. I like seeing all of them on one track, the dynamic is great, the flow is dope, and BIG's presence is always appreciated. The  placement is ideal and a dope way to end this album. It leaves us on a balanced note with an ease of listen that is so refreshing.

There we have it, 15 explicit tracks, some amazing bangers, phenomenal features, a whole lot of great lyrics and fun wordplay. Lil Kim is a powerhouse, whether you want to admit it or not, in an industry that requires you to remain relevant and at the forefront of media gossip to maintain profitability, Kim knew exactly how to maximize it. She continuously pushed the envelope. She created and maintained an image that oozed and epitomized sex appeal and had the lyricism, flow and confidence to back it up. She is ranked among the top female MC's of all time and it's safe to say it started with this debut! Fantastic work that has a whole lot of replay value....this will always be one of my favorite albums.



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