The bitch is back
Notorious K.I.M. takes the stage at the Canyon
By Essie Lustig 06/07/2012
There is nothing subtle about Lil’ Kim. With four of the raunchiest hip-hop LPs in history in her discography and another one on the way, it is rather curious to find her performing at the Canyon, (a fine venue, but a rather subdued one for a former member of Junior Mafia.). June 8 marks the Central Coast leg of her Return of the Queen tour after gigs in the Midwest.
Receiving mostly positive reviews after a disastrously tepid performance in 2010, Lil’ Kim is poised to dazzle, if not by sound, by sight. The woman once billed as Notorious B.I.G.’s right-hand woman will use her newly polished via Dancing With the Stars image — a judge remarked on her “bionic booty” — to reignite a career littered with controversy.
Raised in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn and kicked out of her home at an early age, Lil’ Kim began freestyling for fun and caught the ear of the late Biggie Smalls. The problem was that she was a “Lil” woman in a big man’s world, exposing a type of raw sexuality uncommon in her few female contemporaries. Most astoundingly, she was seemingly apolitical when female rappers such as Queen Latifah, The Lady of Rage and MC Lyte were trying to narrow rap’s gender gap in an enormously misogynistic era and genre.
Instead, Lil’ Kim set an odd precedent for future female hip-hop queens and rivals such as Foxy Brown. She rapped about sex and labels of the fashion variety, creating a new type of political statement: in this man’s world, sex and status are coins of the realm. Despite her multiple awards and lyrical savvy, in 2005 Lil’ Kim found herself embroiled in a perjury case stemming from a gunshot-riddled dispute outside a New York City radio station in 2001. Sentenced to a year and a day in prison, the pint-size rapper even found a way to capitalize on that misstep with a terrifying yet often funny series on BET called Countdown to Lockdown.
Rivalries with other rappers such as the aforementioned Foxy Brown seem to fuel Lil’ Kim’s most interesting creative output. Last year, she took on the enormously popular album by Nicki Minaj, Pink Friday, with the semi-underground mixtape, Black Friday. While neither critically nor commercially successful, Black Friday offered promise that Lil’ Kim could still rhyme, still talk back and still remind the hip-hop world that she is one of the last real links to Notorious B.I.G.
The Return of the Queen tour may not put Lil’ Kim back on top, but a few other creative ventures might. Collaborating with Missy Elliott again (after her Grammy-winning appearance on the “Lady Marmalade” cover for the Moulin Rouge soundtrack) and releasing a tell-all autobiography to coincide with her upcoming album, the “How Many Licks” rapper might achieve the type of legendary status she has always claimed she deserved.
Lil’ Kim will perform at The Canyon on Friday, June 8. For tickets, call (818) 879-5016 or visit www.canyonclub.com.