It was past midnight. I got out of bed and slowly stretched my limbs to hear that my mom was hosting a variety of guests in our two-storey apartment. I crept down the stairs and found myself underneath the kitchen table vacated by beer bottles as I watched neon fabric float across the kitchen and grown accustom to gold jewelry clanking around the room. The sound of the DJ scratching and mixing the best rap and hip-hop hits the 90s provided sent chills down my spine. It was getting late and exhaustion started to get the better of me, so I began to plot my escape but not before I heard ramblings of this infectious beat that I couldn’t let go of. Da-na-da-na-da-na became imprinted in my mind as my fingertips connected with the bass and my head nods mimicked the rhythm. Next, I hear the word, "True" repeated incessantly throughout the chorus and then, this woman who I will soon identify as Lil’ Kim, spits the raunchiest bars I’ve ever heard from a woman:
A yo shorty, won't you go getA bag of the lethal. I'll be undressed in the bra all see through. While you count your jewels, thinkin I'ma cheat you. The only one thing I wanna do is freak you. Keep your stone sets, I got my own baguettes. And I'll be doin things that you won't regret. Lil Kim the Queen Bee, so you best take heed. Shall I proceed? (Yes indeed!)
It wasn’t like any other night that I’d experienced. An act of disobedience allowed me to enter a realm of creative expression and gave life to sexual concepts that I would soon explore in my teenage years. Elated by this euphoric feeling, I pointed my toes from underneath the table which blown my cover. I ran upstairs and shut the door before my mom could catch me, pulled the blanket over my head and reminisced over what I just experienced. From that day forward, I made it a mission to find anything Kimberly Jones-related.
The search for Jones’ content wasn’t as easy as I’d hoped. Whenever I’d ask an adult about Kim I was told that, "little girls shouldn’t be listening to that shit," but this didn’t stop me. The urge to uncover Lil’ Kim’s discography intensified. Now a teen, and mentally recovering from moving to a new city, trips walking home from school consisted of sliding through the record store to paint a more vivid picture. I ran to the section where the owner placed all the L’s and studied Kim’s material until I knew every song, every feature and every lyric. Laced in leopard print and red fur, her iconic squat pose stood 24x36 inches over my head. Kim’s confidence translated through the image as her gaze was firmly fixated on my body when I greeted her presence making my way to her category.My eyes widened once I discovered songs like "Dreams" and "Big Momma Thang" from her debut while my anatomy was enticed by her aura.
Kim wasn't to be played with, despite her small stature; her ego spoke for itself. She held her own amongst men who collude in the testosterone-driven industry but Lil’ Kim owned her "oversexualized" image and controlled her narrative. Her longstanding ability to claim her "provocative", aggressive sexuality, while flaunting her obsession with ice and robbery, enticed me. While name-dropping and wearing the flashiest of high fashion labels, she intertwined her gritty bars with her obsession of achieving opulent wealth.The record store allowed me to appreciate the landscape of Kim’s mind while internalizing how affirmed she was in her womanhood and her sexually-explicit content.
From the record store to Limewire, I downloaded the Queen Bee’s, Hardcore, The Notorious K.I.M, La Bella Mafia and The Naked Truth, etc without flaw. My MP3 was stacked with Jones' material, which allowed me to play her music without unsolicited advice or distractions. "The Jump Off" featuring Mr. Cheeks was my latest addiction as I clamoured to the television whenever the video appeared.
"I got my eye on the guy in the Woolrich coat. Don't he know Queen Bee got the ill deep throat? Uh! Let me show you what I'm all about. How I make a Sprite can disappear in my mouth..."
Bold, beautiful and cocky as ever, her unapologetic nature was something I successfully internalized as I navigated through the male gaze. Hits like "Magic Stick", "How Many Licks", her standout feature in “Get Money” by Junior M.A.F.I.A and the crème de la crème "Suck My Dick" where she switches the role up and dominates as the Queen Bitch effortlessly, became one of the many soundtracks to my life.
Imagine if I was dude and hittin' cats from the back. With no strings attached. Yeah nigga, picture that! I treat y'all niggas like y'all treat us. No Doubt! Ay yo, yo. Come here so I can bust in ya mouth.
Nobody could touch Kim’s sexual appeal or how easily she seduced her listeners with little to no foreplay, leaving them satiable and wet. The tips and tricks Kim integrated in her bars were used as personal study guides as I acknowledged her sex-positive messages and utilized her gems when dealing with men and all that comes with them. Kim’s fashionable steeze and addictive flow became a marker in my adolescence. The attitude I exuded in high school and beyond was and is an ode to Kim’s "Hard Core" truth.As a woman, Kim taught me that I’m not a possession but have the agency to be in control of my own body without feeling guilty while also encouraging me to free myself from notions of patriarchy and respectability in the process.
She had instilled the art of independence and the importance of getting money and securing the bag before placing a man’s desires before my own. Not only is it okay to want sex, it’s okay to want to be fucked with no strings attached. In my mind, she transformed how femininity is defined and how it’s supposed to be performed whilst displaying one of the many faces of womanhood.Her being a brown skinned woman challenged the music and fashion industry and disregarded what they considered feminine or acceptable in a man’s world. In turn, she made it Kim’s World. What conservative black women mark as ‘too fast’, Kim let it be known that it was just the right pace. Although Kim’s impact can be seen in almost every female rapper’s blueprint, Lil’ Kim is the matriarch in which thousands of women use as a role model to experiment and/or unveil their sexual freedom.
Stop sleeping on me and follow @WannasWorld.