Artist: Lil Kim
Album: La Belle Mafia
Rating: 1.5 / 10
Reviewer: A to the L
Kimberley Jones should learn not to speak with her mouth full. Six years on she’s still juggling Biggie’s nuts with her tongue. Surely wherever Christopher Wallace is at right now, he’s bound to be shifting uncomfortably at the amount of people ripping off his memory – first Jay-Z and 50 Cent rip off whole verses of the man’s shit for their own financial gain, and now he’s named as an executive producer on this joint – one which its almost certain that if he was still walking the earth, he would never have put his name anywhere near.
Y’see, much as I’m one who actually liked Kim’s first album, I feel that since then everything she’s released has been a step backwards, with more Biggie-jocking than any other artist around on “The Notorious KIM” follow up, and now this new joint failing to have very few original ideas displayed at all either, and more Biggie dick-riding to boot.
Take the opening intro for instance – in an attempt to prove how “real” she is and how close Biggie was to her, she has the official Biggie stamp of authentication all over it – little snippets of Biggie interviews and tracks all adding up to give the overall message that “Kim is dope cos Biggie said so.”
This is followed by a pointless remake of the Beastie Boys classic ‘Paul Revere’, renamed here as ‘Hold It Now’. Why? Kim adds nothing to the familiar beat except more pointless rambling about how BIG put her on, and how much money she makes. *Yawn*.
Just in case you had forgotten after only two tracks in that BIG put Kim on, she reminds us with the obviously named ‘Doing It Way Big’, where she shouts him out on a chorus which breaks up tepid verses of banal boasting and bragging over a geriatric string-filled beat.
Hey here’s an idea. Take an obvious Deniece Williams sample (‘Free’). Change the chorus to “You can’t fuck with Queen Bee”, and spit 3 verses of bullshit about how hard your life is with the constant haters and traitors trying to backstab you (probably cos they picked up this album, and couldn’t get a refund). Imaginatively title it ‘Can’t Fuck With Queen Bee’ and toss old school cast-offs Full Force on the hook as a further incentive to hit skip. Good thinking. No, really.
I’m sure by now you’ll get the picture that I’m supremely irritated by Miss Jones’ release so far. Nothing could prepare me for the syrupy attack of ‘Shake Ya Bum Bum’ though – for real, I’m still trying to clean sugar deposits out of my ears. J Waxx Garfield has bit down hard on this whole Indian / Eastern influence that has permeated Hiphop lately, producing a slow-tempo beat, dripping with honeyed sweetness due to its sparkly synths, cute-girl-on-the-chorus, and the inclusion of 10 year old sounding Lil Shanice. I’m retching as I type.
Its not ALL bad though. Just… most of it. You want some high points? Ok, then try the Timbaland-laced lead single, ‘The Jump Off’, a guaranteed partyrocker, with its 100 miles an hour tempo, and Lost Boyz-styled chorus. You can actually forgive Kim’s usual “my dope clothes, dope cars, and loads of dough” steelo here due to her intelligence in using this beat. Seriously – Timbaland has fucking laced this joint lovely. But if you have any kind of radio or video stations where you’re at that, that program Hiphop and R’n’B, then you already know this as its been getting SERIOUS play. And rightly too. This is fucking sick.
As is ‘This Is A Warning’. Its basically a remake of R Kelly’s ‘A Woman’s Threat’… and despite being an even worse singer than she is an emcee, somehow Kim pulls this off by making it listenable. I actually did rewind this a couple of times for further listens.
Apart from these cuts though, and the shock of Swizz Beats making a decent beat on ‘This Is Who I Am’, there’s very little else here to pique the interest. Kim hasn’t advanced her skills or her subject material, and the vast majority of the joints here are mid-tempo plodders which suffer from average beats, sappy hooks, and obvious and uninspired guest appearances – Havoc, Twista, 50 Cent, and Styles all show up at various points on the album, and bring exactly fuck all squared to the table.
There’s nothing new here, and apart from the two tracks I’ve touched on, there is absolutely NOTHING here that remotely warrants picking up this album. If artists and record companies are wondering why people bootleg shit – this is a perfect example. There is NO REASON to pay $18-$20 for this. NO REASON. Fuck that – there’s not even any reason to pay $5 for the bootleg. Just go cop the ‘Jump Off’ 12″, and avoid this album like the plague.