Lil’ Kim is arguably the female emcee that paved the way for the likes of Nicki Minaj, Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion and could even be considered the first commercially successful female rapper ever.
A true trendsetter, Lil’ Kim, with her sexually provocative lyrics and coloured hairstyles, set the blueprint for female rappers, with almost every female artist adopting the Lil’ Kim approach today. Whether it’s their look, lyrical content or fashion sense, you can see the influence permeating modern female rap.
As well as being in a very public relationship with fellow Brooklyn rapper The Notorious BIG, Lil’ Kim was also part of Junior MAFIA, BIG’s crew. This was a launch pad for Kim, as she was suddenly thrust into the limelight with the success of the group’s song ‘Player’s Anthem’, which landed at number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and became certified gold by the RIAA.
Following the murder of The Notorious BIG in 1997, with a significant following, Kim pursued a solo career and went on to release five studio albums and feature on some iconic early-noughties pop songs.
With such an incredible catalogue of music, this feature will try to determine the five best Lil’ Kim songs of all time.
The five best Lil Kim songs of all time
5. ‘Lighters Up’ (2005)
‘Lighters Up’ is an incredible song that Kim released as the first single for her 2005 album The Naked Truth. Produced by the legendary Scott Storch, this single undeniably has a Caribbean feel to it. Most likely influenced by the large West Indian community in Brooklyn, ‘Lighters Up’ is reminiscent of songs such as ‘Lucifer’ by fellow Brooklyn artist Jay-Z, which samples the reggae song ‘Chase The Devil’ by Max Romeo.
With similar production and that Caribbean influence, Kim and Storch together create a classic record with ‘Lighters Up’. Only reaching 31 on the Billboard Hot 100, the song performed leagues better in the UK, peaking at number 12 on the singles chart most definitely as a result of the UK’s considerable West Indian population.
4. ‘Crush On You’ ft Lil’ Cease (1997)
Released as the first single for Lil’ Kim’s debut album Hardcore, ‘Crush On You’ is a laid-back, funky track that fits Kim perfectly. The track, produced by Andreao Heard, samples a classic jazz-fusion record, ‘Rain Dance’ by band The Jeff Lorber Fusion which, since Kim, has also been sampled by Mariah Carey and girl group SWV.
Mostly known for its legendary visual, most trace the popularisation of Black females wearing coloured hair back to this video. Directed by Lance ‘Un’ Rivera, the video features appearances from Aaliyah, Sheek Louch and Miami rapper Luke.
3. ‘The Jump Off’ ft. Mr Cheeks (2003)
The lead single for Kim’s third album La Bella Mafia, ‘The Jump Off’ is an extremely lyrical track. Furthermore, it is highly explicit. Produced by Timbaland, the beat for the track is simple yet infectious at the same time and allows the rapper’s lyrics to shine.
This track, in fact, was covered by Nicki Minaj in 2007 for one of her many ‘Come Up Dvd’ freestyles. Following the track’s cadence but adding her own spin to it, both females (who ended up feuding) did the beat justice. You can watch Nicki Minaj’s version here.
2. ‘Not Tonight Remix’ ft. Missy Elliott, Da Brat, Left Eye, Angie Martinez (1997)
Referred to as the ‘Ladies Night Remix’, this remix of Lil Kim’s is a female rap all-star lineup. The song was extremely successful commercially with backing vocals from Mary J Blige and also on the track. The song peaked at number six on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 11 on the UK singles chart.
The track, which samples ‘Ladies Night’ by Kool & The Gang, was even featured on the Nothing to Lose soundtrack and is certified platinum.
1. ‘Magic Stick’ ft 50 Cent (2003)
An extension of the 50 Cent song by the same name, ‘Magic Stick’ done very well as the second single from La Bella Mafia. Already existing as a highly sexual by 50 Cent, the extension featuring Lil’ Kim was perfection for fans as it had both the male and female energy needed for a rounded sensual song.
Containing a sample from ‘It Be’s That Way Sometimes’ by Joe Simon, 50 Cent intended for the song to feature Miami rapper Trina, but after hearing her on the record, realised it was more suited to Lil’ Kim. The song peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100, beaten only by Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s ‘Crazy in Love’ and is certified platinum.