Sex and Hip-Hop; in this day and age it's like butter and toast, they go hand-and-hand. It's hard to believe that being sexually explicit in hip hop was a shocking and controversial thing to be, but it is true. There was a time where men talking about sex shocked parents and the media, and there was a time where women were frowned upon for talking about their sexuality, even by men who flaunted their sexuality all through music. That all changed in the 90s when women were starting to be at the forefront of music and hip hop was beginning to change. Apart of that change was the direction of female rappers, and there was one female rapper who was not afraid to be that change.
Lil Kim's debut album was released on November 12, 1996. Already known for her sexual outfits, Lil Kim's album gained a lot of anticipation off her promotion posters alone.
While she started rapping with the hip hop act, Junior M.A.F.I.A, it was Kim's debut album that really showed people who she was as an artist and what she can bring to the table. Hard Core sold 78,000 copies its first week and soon went double platinum. It also spawned three hit singles, "No Time", "Crush on You", and "Not Tonight". The success and the attention of the sales would be soon matched or even overshadowed by the raunchy, sexual delivery that would soon become Kim's trademark.
Prior to Lil' Kim, female rappers mostly wore baggy clothes or when they did wear something sexy, they were still mostly covered up and wore something athletic. What made Lil' Kim and this album a stand out act was her idea of taking something new and flipping it. Lil' Kim took the east coast confidence of Salt-N-Pepa, MC Lyte, and Queen Latifah mixed it with the shock value of Madonna and topped it off with the ghetto fabulous/homegirl/relatable personas of Yo-Yo and Mary J. Blige. Blended all together, you have a formula Lil' Kim and her contemporary, Foxy Brown, used to begin successful careers in hip-hop.
Lil' Kim's music and image helped changed the face of female rappers, whether the impact was negative or positive. Lil' Kim, along with the Bad Boy Family and the late Notorious B.I.G, brought high-end fashion to hip-hop, which also began trending in hip hop. On a deeper level, Lil' Kim made it ok for women to take charge their sexuality and question the double standards with gender roles, even with male hip hop fans. There are many theories and dialogues about what made Lil' Kim and her music so attention grabbing, but any true hip hop fan can understand where the Brooklyn rapper was coming from. Lil' Kim took the sexual energy from 2 Live Crew and revamped it so she can take ownership in it. I mean let's be honest, the difference between Kim and her male counterparts was she gave women a voice through her womanhood and sexuality.
20 years later, Lil' Kim isn't in the spotlight as much as she used to, but not to worry, thanks to social media we can still find out where Kim slays at a club and social appearances and see how she still rocks the crowd during the Bad Boy Reunion tour. As one of the recent recipients of the VH1 Hip Hop Honors, it's evident people still want more of her and her influence is still seen through another artist. From Eve and Trina to Azealia Banks and Teyana Taylor, most female rappers still reference Lil' Kim bold music and personality as their blueprint to expressing their sex drive and carrying their confidence. Now I can't say whether or not Kim is coming out with more music, but I can say, the music she has made isn't going to be forgotten, and no one's ever going to forget the girl who made it perfectly fine to wear a pasty out in public.
If anyone still questions influence of the Queen Bitch, just tell them, "you wanna be this Queen Bee but you can't be".
Congratulations Lil' Kim on the 20th anniversary of Hard Core.