Turn It On Up
Make no mistake about it: Lil' Kim knows what she wants and she knows how to get it. Sometimes raunchy, sometimes romantic, always straight-up, her music has set a new standard for sexual honesty in pop music. Here the Queen Bee talks about the blues artists who inspire her, the true love she lost, and the female fans who need to hear her message.
VH1: When you sing about your sexuality, are you singing about your life experiences?
Lil' Kim: Yeah, definitely. My music is definitely from my past experiences. In order to speak it well you have to have been through it in some way. I kind of pat myself on the back for breaking in and making the opening for other women to come in. I'm glad that there are other women who came behind me and said, "You know I feel you, Kim." I said I'm gonna be that woman to stand up and say to these men, "All right, you want to talk about having sex with women in the pool and having orgies and stuff like that? OK, we get down, we like to have fun, too, but we like to look good while we do it. So if you want us around having fun with you all, let's have fun, baby. But I got a jeweler and I want to look nice. So let's get the money."
VH1: Why do you think you were able to sing so honestly about sexuality?
Lil' Kim: Well, one of the things Biggie did for me was let me know that it's OK to just go ahead and be truthful. Like I did the song "Big Momma Thang" and he came in there and he was like, "This girl done lost her mind!" He was so hyped, he was so happy. 'Cause if I was rolling with somebody who thought that was just raunchy or trashy I probably wouldn't be who I am today. Or you know I probably wouldn't be able to be so frank about it. Another thing is when I was coming up before I even got in the game I used to always read up on Mary J. Blige, and she was a lady that I felt was just like me - she wasn't selfish with her music. She sings from the bottom of her gut and her heart, and when we met each other it was like destiny.
VH1: Do you think the music you're making has roots in other genres?
Lil' Kim: I'm not the first artist to come out talking raunchy. I'm probably just the first female rap artist to do it, and I'm getting all the flak for re-creating it in a whole different persona. But you can take it all the way back to the blues days. Blues is hip-hop, in case you don't know, that's why I think one of my next records is gonna be a mixture of blues and hip-hop. But it's gonna be a hard joint. A hardcore blues jazz joint. That's what makes good music, when you can bring old music back and make it new and hard and raw. You gonna hear it coming to a record store near you.
VH1: What artists inspire you?
Lil' Kim: Millie Jackson is someone who I think all of the women that talk like me and rap like me need to remember and respect 'cause she helped us to be able to say what we want to. She was very up front about her sexuality. That's why I respect her and I always mention her when I can. She sat on a goddamn toilet and talked sh*t, you know what I'm saying? That's gangsta. She talked like the men did, her voice was raspy but at the same time it was smooth. Millie Jackson's music is definitely music that people should get in their archives. Millie and Betty Wright are my girls; they have the same kinda flow, it's just that Millie was more wild with hers. But no pain, no gain.
VH1: A lot of women say you're an inspiration to them.
Lil' Kim: A lot of women do, a lot of women feel like I'm an inspiration to them and I'm shocked by it, but I can understand it. No. 1, I don't give a f*ck and they know it. And not only that, but I'm sticking up for us because, like I said, it's a male-dominated world and some women don't feel like they're strong enough to say these things that I say or do the things that I do. So it feels good to know there's a woman who is strong enough to do those things; I'm their voice, so they love me. I've heard people say they've listened to "Hold On" and it's changed their life. I'm an artist, I believe in growth through your music. Most important to me is to still be that voice and still be that bitch, and that's the way I am. But at the same time these women are an inspiration to me as well, because knowing that I have them backing me and just there for me as my fans and my friends, it helps me move on and be more of an inspiration for them. And I keep going, going, going; you only go up.
VH1: Your music deals a lot with the pain of love as well.
Lil' Kim: There's nothing you can do when you find true love, trust me. The song "Hold On" is all about true love. My first love, Biggie, was my soul mate and there's no fighting that. I've been in love and it's a beautiful thing, but it hurts. It makes you laugh, it makes you cry, makes you do all kinds of crazy things. It makes you use muscles in your body you never knew you had, trust me. That record "Hold On" was very deep to me 'cause I revealed a lot of things that I probably would have never told anyone. I did it because, like I said earlier, there's women who look at me as an inspiration, and they're looking to me to be truthful. I had to do that, to let them know I got pregnant without being married. I'm not perfect, I do things wrong, too. I make mistakes, I was in love with a man that eventually got married. These things happen, you just have to know how to deal with adversity and move on. But one thing I do know is that I've never loved a man the way I've loved him and that's why I had to talk about it and just let people know: Girl, I know what you're going through.