Finding a favorite CD for an emotionally extreme ADD music junky like myself is only slightly better than asking me which one of my friends a terrorist should kill first (though I’ve been keeping careful rank of my loved ones on my trusty dusty “good versus evil” abacus). Since music has always been my way to soak up time and place, my favorite CD would have to be the one most pound-cake dense with memories over the ones I might listen to most or the ones I’d want to list to show my arcane intimacy with the canon of unknown music.
The winner of that prize less honor is Lil’ Kim’s Hardcore. Right about the time I exorcised the demonic love of my life, I decided to purge almost everything I owned and start over in Texas. For someone whose music collection looked like a mid-sized record convention, this was a huge (and very ill advised) expression of my desire for a slate sans graffiti. In the future, I’ll just take Hatha Yoga and make up new nicknames for myself instead (e.g. Rocko, Melpy, Kicker) . At the time, the only CD I kept was Lil’ Kim because it was one of the few CDs untainted by my ex; since he loathed her potty mouthed abandon and turbo whoredom. But it wasn’t only its lack of spiritual stains; my best friend and I would cruise through the city pumping out the Queen Bee and cat calling men like we were teamsters. It certainly didn’t hurt that the whole album is a heavy panting aria to the unadulterated glee of having an ego like a downed power line. Whether or not I believed it, I couldn’t help entertain the notion that I could suck dick like a pro, rock Prada, and play dem cats for fools.
Track for track, Hardcore‘s thuggette-auctioneering flow melds the perfect hybrid of yoni power Mafioso and Park Avenue duchess. When this album dropped in 1996, women were still relatively buried in hip-hop, confined to pop-crossover or consciousness raising, both of which translate into no credibility and no listeners respectively. While fairly blasé now, it was pretty exciting to hear Lil’ Kim sport diamonds and pack an Uzi all the while demanding that a big dicked brutha know exactly where her clit was. It was almost as if Josephine Baker and Al Capone had raised their lovechild in the wild and then unleashed her on the rap world.
“Spend a Little Doe” begins with Lil’ Kim greeting her recently paroled man at the door with a cocked shotgun and rolls into a thumping beat and piano riff underlying her laundry list of spurned diva insults. The swagger continues on “Drugs” where Lil’ Kim compares her transcendental pussy to the ecstasy of illicit substances. Perhaps the crowning bruiser gem on the record is “Queen Bitch”, where Kim spells out in bulleted rhythm exactly what kind of “by any means” bitch she is. Notorious B.I.G., the album’s producer, pops up sporadically to fling in a chorus or, as is the case in “Queen Bitch” command Lil’ Kim to “get off my dick, kick it bitch”.
I’d be lying if I didn’t mention that much of my love for this album stems from its squatting-over-your-face raunch. How many pop songs contain nakedly honest choruses like “Not Tonight’s” anthemic “I don’t want dick tonight—eat my pussy right”. Emceeing her own XXX slumber party in “Dreams”, Lil’ Kim spits a fuck pony wish list of rap and R&B gents over pelvic-thundering bass. Although one gets the impression that it’s not so much a wish list as it is a series of reminders. In a music world where Love is smeared in the anodyne gloss of eyes on fire, hearts beating as one and perishable forevers, it was refreshing to hear someone break it down in the cold audacity of sex, drugs, and mad loot. It’s not what I want every day of my life, but who can fault Lil’ Kim’s unwholesome declarations like the immortal quip in “Big Momma Thang”: “take in the butt, yes, yes, what?!” Lil’ Kim isn’t asking for your sugar cereal approval and you shouldn’t wait for her apologies. She’s an empress of timber wolf sexuality and a dominatrix of cherry-picked decadence. Hardcore will leave you daydreaming to the sound of the entire chain gang working on your thang. This is urban poetry for the hungry, horny, and bold.
In one of the most beautiful summer’s on record, I spent day after day with my best friend, lounging by the pool, eating like gremlins, and shrugging off the future with hard knock bravado. Hardcore provided the backdrop to my recovery from bad drugs and someone who most definitely gave love a bad name. Even now, whenever I’m feeling like an answerless chile, I just put Lil’ Kim in the CD player and begin strutting and grabbing my cock like I’m a hot carnie. This is all mandatory, I assure you. After all, “I used to be scared of the dick, now I throw lips to the shit, handle it, like a real bitch”.