You don't have to do this, Kimberly.
Earlier this week, after Beyonce shut down the Internet once again with her Nicki Minaj-featured remix to the cocksure “Flawless,” I’d accurately predicted that Lil’ Kim's antennae were perked and that she’d quickly spoil the fun. But in retrospect, even Miss Cleo could’ve foreseen this reheated beef with Nicki.
The thing is, my rationale was off.
Sure, Lil’ Kim probably took exception to Nicki’s gratuitous Biggie-like grunts on “Flawless (Remix).” And she’s always argued that Ms. Minaj’s derriere is parked on the throne that Kim once squatted on exclusively, courtesy of a Xeroxed persona (i.e. Black Barbie, Queen Bee, etc.). Plus, Nicki just literally flipped Lil’ Kim’s iconic Hard Core pose for the jaw-dropping artwork to her new single, “Anaconda.”
But the real reason Kim is back in Killer Bee mode has nothing to do with Nicki Minaj.
This is about Remy.
All eyes and ears have been on the Bronx bomber since she’s come home from serving seven years in prison. And she’s quickly quieted speculation of any Shyne-like lyrical attrition by stepping into Khaled’s booth and airing out the “They Don't Love You No More” instrumental.
So now we have Nicki Minaj on three of the most important pop (“Bang Bang”), hip-hop (“Anaconda”) and R&B (“Flawless (Remix)”) songs of the summer, a fresh-out Remy Ma foaming at the mouth, and plastic Australian sensation Iggy Azalea playing dress-up as a Dirty South rap empress. Remy wants to all three to jump on a track.
And where does this leave rap’s original Marilyn Monroe, Lil’ Kim? See that squinty-eyed speck in the rear-view mirror? Yeah.
With Nicki, Iggy and Remy all cornering a fraction of music’s water cooler convos, there’s now a legit musical chairs showdown for lady lyricists, and Lil’ Kim ain’t trying to be the last chick standing.
Iggy's credibility problem doesn't make her a worthwhile target. And while Kim and Remy have had their issues in the past, a renewed rivalry with Terror Squad’s forever first lady is futile. With one Khaled-sponsored track, Rem is already winning because, really, who doesn’t love a comeback story?
So of course Kim’s got her stinger erect for Nicki’s neck.
But here’s the thing: Kim’s shouldn’t have to fight for her rightful pin drop on the rap map. She’s already a legend whose paved the way for every modern MC of the double-x chromosome set. Sure her thirsty on-wax antics and cosmetic, um, enhancements, haven’t helped her build that public perception of immortal rap sovereign. But she should be respected as an Air Jordan of women rappers, Wizards jersey and all.
Jay Z garners that respect. Bun B, Snoop and Nas, too. So why not Kim?
Perhaps Foxy Brown and Lil Kim’s sexually liberated hip-hop arrival in the mid-’90s had an unintended side effect, creating a cycle where we boost the most seductive women rappers like a push-up bra and then drop them like DMX on that Slingshot ride once they’re older and (ir)regular-looking and have run out of Blackberry phones to throw at people.
That would explain—outside of her obvious historical epicness—why Lauryn Hill, a rapper who’s never leaned on an oversexualized shtick, is still invited to open day two of this year’s OVO Fest despite speeding through her Miseducation tracks like she’s auditioning to join Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. Two of L-Boogie’s classics have been revived for J. Cole and Drake fan faves. Kim is out here fighting for your attention like a middle child.
Or maybe Kim has brought this on herself more directly. Save for Missy Elliott, Kim has been mostly bitter toward her peers in these recent years. Drake certainly doesn't owe her any favors, after she called him a “coward” (one of her nicer remarks). Had she been a more graceful torch-passer, perhaps she and Nicki would be collaborating and praising each other as past and present rap femme fatales.
Lil’ Kim's Miss Mount Rushmore spot is already etched (wide-nostril edition). She should be trotting her victory lap. Preparing to celebrate her milestone ’96 debut Hard Core in two years, once it hits a double decade. Not baiting her 2.0 successor and trolling on Bey cuts.
Regardless, with the rap ring getting crowded by worthy women spitters, Kim will keep taking shots at Nicki until you completely tune her out (if you haven’t already). She deserves better.
Guess after all these years, there’s still something about Remy. —John Kennedy