December 16, 2019 Lil’ Kim – 9 (Album Review)
Discovered by The Notorious B.I.G. in 1994, the American Rapper/Singer-Songwriter Lil’ Kim catapulted to commercial popularity soon after releasing her debut album, 1996’s RIAA-certified double platinum Hard Core, spawning the hit singles “No Time,” “Not Tonight (Ladies Night),” and “Crush on You.” All tracks of which peaked on various music charts that included Billboard Hot 100, Lil’ Kim offered 3 more albums in the ensuing decade—2000’s The Notorious K.I.M., 2003’s La Bella Mafia, and 2005’s The Naked Truth.
Nothing major came out after that, aside from a number of collaborative works with artists such as Faith Evans (“Lovin’ You for Life”), Remy Ma (“Wake Me Up”), and Fabolous (“Spicy”)… so, the question is where has Rap’s Queen Bee been? Well, now after 14 long years, Lil’ Kim returns to the spotlight with her highly anticipated fifth album. Simply titled 9, the Hip Hop artist’s latest offering was released on Friday, October 11th, 2019, via eOne Music.
Complete with 10 songs, it starts with the slow, R&B allure of “Pray for Me,” with prominent guests Rick Ross and Musiq Soulchild. This is then followed by the undulating badass bass and beat of “Bag” and the more playful yet similarly slightly ominous “Catch My Wave,” featuring Rich the Kid. Thereafter, with the lead single “Go Awff,” Lil’ Kim delivers something corner-of-the-dance-floor—worthy and big-sounding, courtesy of the siren-alarming horn melody and a sample of the song “Dangerous” by The xx. She keeps the groove with another bass-heavy track that glows with a slow swagger—“Too Bad.”
All solid, may be regarded as the album’s mid-tracklist highlight, “You Are Not Alone” is attractive with its guitar-sounding cyclical lines and hypnotic bass line; it will sit well on a playlist that includes Kanye West’s “Diamonds from Sierra Leone” and Michael Jackson’s song of the same title. Then beat shifts to a higher gear as “Found You”—the second single, featuring City Girls and O.T. Genasis—plays next. Then there is the slow, sexy swing of “Auto Blanco,” which showcases once again Lil’ Kim’s trademark Rap styling that has traces of Missy Elliott’s influences to it. Finally, Lil’ Kim wraps up her new “lewd, contrarian, and confrontational” album with the eerie sway and spurt of “Jet Fuel.”
The cohesive and dark sonic beauty of the much-anticipated and much-delayed 9 compensates for Lil’ Kim’s long absence from the music charts. In fact this early, 9 has reached number 7 on Billboard’s Hip Hop Album Sales Chart and peaked at number 1 on the Hip Hop segment of iTunes Charts. For all these, Cryptic Rock gives Lil’ Kim’s latest lucky charm 4 out of 5 stars.