Is Lil Kim Still Relevant?

News

Vibe / November 25, 2011

Last week, Lil Kim hit up Kay Slay’s Streetsweeper Radio show on Shade 45 to throw another pebble in the ocean, this time going at Nicki Minaj — again— and the whole YMCMB camp. I’d quote the rhymes, but they’re embarrassingly bad (worse than “you’re a Kim clone, clown”) and my one-time love for Kim keeps me from participating in the tarnishing of a one-time great.

On the show, Kim also revealed plans to release a new book called The Price of Loyalty, as well as an untitled documentary—neither of which have been given release dates.

Never in my life did I think I would question Kim’s relevancy. I remember the first time I saw her, chilling in the back of a limo, short natural cut, adorned in fur and looking like one of the most sophisticated and smooth Black ladies I’d ever seen as she spat her verse in the video for “Player’s Anthem.” It had an undeniable affect on me. I cut off my perm to get Kim’s natural the following weekend, a 17-year-old suburban girl’s hope at channeling that amazing aura.

A year later I was riding shotgun in my best friend’s car headed way too fast to I-95 when he popped in a Hardcore CD. “I used to be scared of the…” The whole album, an undisputed classic, was equal parts filthy, flirtatious and funny. It was love at first listen. I headed to the record store—remember those? —the next morning to get my own.

By sophomore year, her verse in “All About the Benjamins” had become my club anthem: “All that bulls— you kick/ playa hatin’ from the sidelines/ get your own sh–/ why you bitin mine?”

But who Kim was then and who she is now? It ain’t the same. I’m not thinking about the surgeries. That’s too cheap a shot. (Her face? Her business.) The one-time Queen is acting like a jester with her sad attempts to stay relevant. Sometimes you have to know when to say “when,” and Kim’s long past time to push away from the bars.

Kim’s been working on her comeback since 2006, when her prison sentence took her out of the game for one year and one day. (If you recall, she lied to the grand jury about details surrounding a shooting outside of Hot 97’s New York City headquarters in 2001.) She’s thrown a lot out there— Dancing with the Stars was her most visible attempt— but still nothing’s stuck. She keeps tongues wagging these days by going up against Nicki Minaj with wack songs, underwhelming mixtapes and radio interviews killing any hopes of a respectable resurgence.

I don’t want to see Kim give up. Music is obviously important to her, and far be it for me to knock another woman chasing a big dream. I respect the grind, but the approach is all wrong. Everyone knows Nicki “borrowed” her look from Kim back in the day (with a dash of Missy thrown in for effect), but constantly reminding anyone who will listen of what she was then isn’t doing anything for Kim today. It’s a reminder of who did her thing, and worse, who is doing it better now.

 

Demetria L. Lucas is the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria) in stores now. Follow her on Twitter @abelleinbk