York: She never had a problem writing. She just always went a little Lauryn Hill–ish. When she heard the “Get Money” beat, she went really gangsta backpack. Big came in and said, “No, I’m doing my verse; here’s where to go.” “Niggas, better grab your seats/Deeper than a pussy…”—Big wrote that part. Then after 8, 12 bars, she wrote it herself. Hard Core is 70 percent written by her too.”
Deric “D-Dot” Angelettie (producer): The attitude she put in those lyrics was hers, but the bounce and the flow, where to breathe and where not to breathe, those had to be taught—certain pockets that on her own she might not have hit because those were Big’s pockets.
Rivera: He’d write a rhyme, and then she’d write a rhyme. We would compare it, and a lot of times we liked hers better. But [Big] would say, “Nah, nah, we gonna put this in.”
Jackson: Kim is not a fast writer; it might take Kim a day or two. When [Biggie’s] “Queen Bitch” [reference track] leaked—“Queen Bitch, Supreme Bitch, I kill a nigga by any means, bitch”—people tried to give Biggie credit for writing all of Kim’s stuff. That wasn’t the case.
Lil’ Cease: We were still just teenagers when everything blew up. We’re looking at Billboard and seeing our names. People are recognizing us. We didn’t do good at all with the contract. It was nine of us; you’re not getting much. We didn’t care about that.
York: The plan was always to spin off Junior M.A.F.I.A into separate groups and have separate albums.
Daddy-O: We never [accomplished] what Junior M.A.F.I.A was supposed to be. Part of it was because Cease and them were scared. Literally, the first time we went to go get them to the studio they were hiding. Kim was the only step-up player. She was ready to go.
While Kim was recording Hard Core under B.I.G.’s tutelage, it was clear to almost everyone around that their partnership was beyond business.
Monica “Shaka Don” Dopwell (friend and former road manager): During Junior M.A.F.I.A’s album [Conspiracy], Kim was staying at Nino’s [mother’s] crib on St. James Place, up the street from Big’s building. It was convenient for her ’cause they were going on the road a lot. That’s where Big used to come and check for her.
York: I knew Big and Kim were involved from the very beginning. But we all just kept it quiet and didn’t talk about it. I think at some point she fell in love with him, and he didn’t take it that serious. She would have to look out while she was recording and see him laughing and hugged up with some girl.
Rivera: If she found out about a situation, it could mess up the whole studio night ’cause she’d just dwell on that. She’d flip her lid; he’d flip his lid. The next day it cleared up, we’d be back to work.
Shaka Don: One time at the Hit Factory, a bunch of us [started] fighting because some chicks came to Kim’s studio session because Big said they could. When Big came, it got even worse. He was choking Kim in the studio elevator. That was the first time I literally saw them fighting. D-Roc [Damien Butler] was in the elevator with them trying to break it up. I used to tell her, “Come on, you have to let this go.” Sometimes a man can kill your self-esteem. And when he got mad with her, he would do that.