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Lil' Kim...

Notorious is More Flash Than Smash

If only Lil' Kim's disc sounded as good as she looks on the cover of "The Notorious K.I.M."! With airbrushed stomach, a blond weave halfway down her back, and a come-and-get-it-before-I-kick-your-ass look, Kim is the Farrah Fawcett of rap.

Inside Kim proves to be style over substance, though.

Kim dedicates this disc posthumously to the Notorious B.I.G., with whom she had a much-publicized romantic and professional relationship. More importantly, though, Kim seems determined to show the rap patriarchy that she can do anything the big boys can. This has never been in question, but is that anything to brag about?

Need guns and violence? Kim's got 'em. Both "Revolution," with Lil' Cease and a wasted guest appearance by Grace Jones, and "Do What You Like" with Junior M.A.F.I.A. go heavy on that. Wanna talk sex? Kim's not afraid to tell you how she likes it--at length. In fact, the tracks are laced so heavily with obscenities and X-rated lyrics even the most appealing beats and melodies are overshadowed.

Don't misunderstand. The Queen Bee turns out a few noteworthy jams.

Look all you will, but you're unlikely to find a more smokin', sexy track than "How Many Licks." Featuring vocals by Sisqo, "Licks" proves to have a radio-friendly edit (not found here) and should blow up sooner rather than later. Combine Kim's scandalous, sex-drenched lyrics and Sisqo's smooth vocals, and the track is by far the most memorable on the disc.

"Right Now" could prove to be a break-out hit, too, with guest vocals by silky-voiced Carl Thomas. A memorable interpolation of Suzanne Vega's "Tom's Diner," not to mention a brief reinterpretation of Sisqo's "Thong Song," give the track a good chance of striking a chord with listeners. But how much of that can be attributed to Kim--and how much belongs to the extraneous factors, samples and guest appearances?

Likewise, "No Matter What They Say" is already finding a home at urban radio. The sing-along chorus and "pussy cat" lyrics are a sure-fire hit. "Don't Mess With Me" owes its appeal to the instantly recognizable sample of Pat Benetar's "Heartbreaker," but

L'il Kim shows it off!!

its lyrics are smart, appealing and enjoyable.

These are the exceptions, not the rule. Far more prevalent are inane, bland beats and senselessly profane lyrics. She even manages to misuse R&B diva Mary J. Blige on the autobiographical tribute to Biggy titled "Hold On." Mary and Kim declare that B.I.G. still lives on through them.

The sad fact is, however, that very few examples of Biggy's skill for interesting, catchy, enjoyable lyrics, samples and melodies are found here. If anything, Kim's insistence on mentioning the mentor that made her a "goddamn legacy" leaves listeners wishing B.I.G. was still alive to produce something a bit more listenable.

Click here to purchase this CD from Amazon.com


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