Like true royalty, Lil Kim is back to reclaim her throne. Not that anyone should need a reminder of the Queen Bee’s iconic status when she entered the rap game in the mid 90s, but just in case, her performance Friday at the Paradise Theater in the Bronx served up a bit of nostalgia and excitement for what’s ahead.
On the New York City leg of her “Return of the Queen” tour, Kim hit the stage with a massive entourage and a crew of talented hip-hop friends. Dressed in a shiny beige pants paired with a jeweled bra the Queen Bee took the stage royally with flower petals at her feet while men held flagstaffs with her logos. Her fans welcomed her with deafening screams as she performed “Black Friday” from the mixtape of the same name. Although the mixtape received mixed reviews, this was not evident by the crowd’s enthusiasm to see Kim in her element.
It didn’t take long for Kim to go into her classic hits from the albums Hardcore, Notorious K.I.M., La Bella Mafia and The Naked Truth. Men and women alike rapped every word to songs like “Queen Bitch,” “Money, Power & Respect” and “Man Down.” On the reggae influenced “Lighters Up” Kim’s energy had the crowd rocking from side to side while spitting every lyric. The love for Kim shown at the Paradise Theater was as if she’d put out an album this year instead of 2005 when her last album The Naked Truth was released.
She brought out a host of surprise guests including Juelz Santana, Mr. Cheeks and Papoose. During her verse on “It’s All About the Benjamins” she made it halfway through the verse before she stopped the track. In an instant Drita D’Avanzo of Mob Wives was on the stage rapping the entire verse with Kim. But one of the greatest highlights of the night was the reuniting of female rappers that only someone of Kim’s caliber could make happen.
When the “Hot Boyz” remix came on the crowd was without a doubt hype, but Kim was never on that song so it seemed like an odd track to play at her concert. But when Eve came out to deliver her verse on “Hot Boyz” it all made sense, and the crowd went bananas as Kim stood by her side rocking as if it was her own song. Another epic moment happened Missy Elliott’s part on the same song came on and Kim said, “Run the back.” After running it back Missy ran to the stage dressed in all black. The audience lost it (that’s a good thing), overjoyed that three female emcees with very different styles could all be on the stage and spread love. Blending in with the entourage, Pepa of Salt-N-Pepa and Somaya Reece of Love and Hip Hop showed their support for their fellow female emcees. And that is the strength of Lil Kim. The ability to share the spotlight and big up some of the hottest rappers in the game without her own light dimming.
With all the guest appearances it was still very much Kim’s show. Comfortable in the environment with true die hard fans, Kim kicked off her shoes to dance and drop it low. Not taking herself too seriously Kim continued rapping even after her red lipstick had smeared a bit too much on her face. The pint-sized beauty’s performance proved one thing–not that anything needed proving–a legend is a legend. The Queen Bee’s return has arrived, and the fans haven’t gone anywhere. Bow down to the throne.
[Photo: Getty Images]