Lil’ Kim – 9 (Album Review)

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.

Purchase 9:

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aLfie vera mella
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Born in 1971, in Metro Manila, Philippines, aLfie vera mella is a healthcare worker, singer/songwriter, and editor/writer. He was the frontman of the ’90s-peaking Philippine Alternative Rock / New Wave band Half Life Half Death, which released a full-length album and several singles on Viva Records. aLfie worked at Diwa Scholastic Press as an editor/writer of academic textbooks and supplementary magazines, focusing on Science & Technology and English Grammar & Literature. In 2003, aLfie migrated to Canada; he has since been living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He works full-time at a healthcare institution, while serving as the associate contributing editor of Filipino Journal—a local community newspaper in Winnipeg—tackling Literature, Languages, Cultures, Lifestyles, and Music. aLfie has been a music journalist since the mid-’90s for various print magazines as well as websites. He started writing album reviews for Cryptic Rock in 2015. In 2016, aLfie published Part One (Literature & Languages and Their Cultural Significance) of his Essay Series, Can You Hear the Sound of a Falling Leaf?; in 2021, his first book of poetry, Pag-íhip sa Dáhon ng Kahápon [Blowing Leaves of Yesterday]. In his spare time, he enjoys reading books and listening to music. aLfie is a dedicated father to his now 13-year-old son, Evawwen; and a loving husband to Kathryn Mella, who herself moonlights also as a writer aside from holding a degree in Bachelor of Arts, Major in Sociology.

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