The Early Days:
There is always the old saying “if I eat, EVERYBODY eats” and that was Junior Mafia’s case in 1995 when the late Notorious B.I.G. put his crew members on after he blew up from his debut album Ready To Die. Putting his magical vocals on hip hop classics such as Get Money and Players Anthem. The Junior Mafia album itself was a solid album and due to Biggie’s star power pushed them into the mainstream but who stood out from the group and was obvious a grooming star in the making was Lil Kim.
During the 90s when machismo was running the rap game and “Fuck a bitch” rhymes were promoted heavily through the gangsta rap era. Female hip hop listeners wanted somebody that can speak for them, Someone that can represent them and tell alot of these dudes to “fuck themselves” and Lil Kim for the wrong and right reasons became that voice. I wasn’t a big fan of Kim’s content but I respected her as a rapper because of the fact that She wasn’t afraid to spit with the big boys.
She was one of the few people who went back at Tupac Shakur when he went on his 1996 rampage on the East Coast while most of the East remained silent. Her delivery was brash, no holds barred and she was also very attractive so that alone made her standout from the group. Biggie wanted to make her the Marylin Monroe of Hip Hop by mixing sexiness with brashness and the formula worked with perfection. And what was also impressive by Kim is not only the fact that her material was very nasty but she can rap as well and Biggie taught her very well. Case proven on her 1996 debut Hardcore:
Kim’s debut was what her fan craved for. Funky jams(No Time produced by Puff Daddy), Disgusting sex talk(Big Mama Thing, Queen Bitch) along with Confident female bravado to combat the male counterparts. It was possibly one of the edgiest albums to have ever come out from a rapper and many critics(mainly black women) panned it as one of the most “vile and disgusting” to ever come out and made Kim out to be a bad representative for hip hop. But nevertheless Kim’s debut single handled made her a star overnight and thats where she became Hip Hop’s #1 sex symbol for the ladies.
The Death of Biggie
Everything was going good for Junior Mafia. The hits were coming left and right. Biggie was dominating the East Coast Scene and Lil Kim was representing for the ladies while Cease and the others rode the wave. The success bubble would sadly burst as on March 9th 1997, Their mentor, leader, contributor, and founder The Notorious B.I.G. was gunned down and killed. Junior Mafia but mainly Lil Kim would never be the same afterwards.
Biggie’s death was a crushing blow to Bad Boy Records but luckily for Puffy, He was able to use the other talent on the roster(Mase, The LOX, Black Rob, Mark Curry) to keep him afloat and remain successful but for Junior Mafia, There was nowhere to go but downhill.
After Biggie’s death, It seemed that Lil Kim was going through some very bizarre psychological changes. While She still remained as the groups star and kept their name out there in honor of Biggie. There were other changes going on with Lil Kim that people started to notice. Her skin was becoming more lighter, Her nose and facial features over the years started to go through serious transformations in a bizarre way and lets not forget Kim’s accent was starting to change as case proven on Dancing with the Stars.
Either she had a low self-esteem about herself or going through real psychological problems, Whatever the case maybe the changes were not too good, Especially when you go from looking like this:
While Kim’s bizarre transformation were hard to deny and easy to criticize. One thing is for certain is that when it came to emceeing she has improved a great deal. Her albums such as Notorious K.I.M, La Bella Mafia, and The Naked Truth(Which earned her 5 mics from the Source) showed that she was talented to carry her own albums and didn’t have to rely heavily on ghost writers. She showed that she isn’t afraid to go to the streets with her beefs with Remy Ma and Foxxy Brown which eventually led to her going to prison years later.
Dissension between the group started to emerge when Kim filed a 6 million dollar lawsuit against Lil Cease for trying to release the best of Junior Mafia II on DVD claiming that she never got permission for her name and image. They revamped it and released it as Junior Mafia Vs Lil Kim but it didn’t pass its predecessor.
Kim and Junior Mafia trial from the 2001 shootout with people from Foxxy Brown’s camp outside of Hot 97 studios and It made major headlines. Kim and Cease had fallen out years prior so it didn’t matter to Cease if Kim went down or not so he testified against Lil Kim and D Roc which resulted to D Roc going to prison. Kim refused to comment on the 2001 shooting(In street terms, Not snitch) and did a one year prison term for not telling. She labeled Lil Cease a snitch on her album.
While Lil Kim was away, Female hip hop fans was looking for another female to represent for them. Kim was locked up, Foxxy threw her career away, Remy Ma was locked up so that left the perfect opportunity for Minaj to really blossom considering their weren’t no serious competition.
In order to get her name out there, She did what many would do and what seemed to be the thing for up and comers since 50 cent blew up and thats take shots at other people. For those who don’t know, She was the first one to fire shots at Kim and other female rappers during her rise to stardom:
Her whole style was coming across as someone looking for a idenity. She tried to go pro black and that didn’t work. She tried to spit gangsta content and that wouldnt work either. It was also the fact that Her flow at the time was too similar to Kim, From the pictures she takened like Kim, the color wigs, She came across as a Lil Kim clone and she wasn’t takened seriously as a contender.
It wasn’t until when Nicki signed to Young Money is where she started to gain more notoriety is where Lil Kim took it as a slap in the face that somebody was blowing up using her style and image without paying homage so shots started to get sent out courtesy of her friend Ray J which instigated the whole beef to the next level publicly:
After months of trash talk between Kim’s camp and Young Money, Nicki took the opportunity to address the beef as soon as her album dropped with Roman’s Revenge:
It was a perfect time to gain interest for her album(Which I personally didn’t like) but she strategically timed it right and her album was an instant seller at Kim’s expense. Pink Friday was the highest selling debut from a female rapper in close to 10 years and eventually went platinum.
But being that Kim threatened to “Erase her Social Security” and expressed her disgust about Minaj in interviews:
That was cute for her,” Kim said in a small voice. “Bitches like her do shit like that. Talk on ho, it’s easy talk when them album sales aint back yet.”
“Since you talking ’bout the history books, let’s talk about the fucking History books damn it. Bitch I got a Grammy, bitch. I got number ones sweety. Source gave my last album 5 motherfucking mics ho. What the fuck they give you?”
It wasn’t in Kim’s nature to be passive so she released Black Friday aiming at Nicki’s head-piece and it was vicious showing that Kim wasn’t afraid of competition and was willing to defend her spot.
While Kim may have wrecked her on wax. The problem is that the demographic of fans today(Mainly Nicki’s) don’t really pay attention to serious diss records anymore. They only pay attention to numbers and radio spins which is a shame considering Roman’s Revenge is one of the silliest records I’ve ever heard and that Black Friday was hard due to the fact that she used Pharaoh Monch’s Simon Say’s Godzilla beat.
Even though you have people who don’t have a clue about hip hop music are judging this battle. Any true fan of hip hop knows that Black Friday was venomous, Even though it wasn’t the best diss record I heard, It showed that Kim has the chops to be a contender and that she isn’t afraid to lose her spot.
Who knows where this battle will turn out as I heard Nicki recorded a new diss on Kim, Theres no denying that anybody can’t say that Lil Kim isn’t relevant. I’m not a fan of her nasty content nor did I like how she changed her whole look. You can’t overlook talent and Kim gets my respect for being a spitter for the ladies and holding her own. I hope she can seriously get her career on track and release an album that put her back in position.