“Lil Kim the Queen Bee
So you best take heed
Shall I proceed?
After making her debut appearance on Junior M.A.F.I.A.’s Conspiracy album, the Brooklyn born Kimberly Lil’ Kim Jones was destined for greatness, as she appeared on countless hits by other artists such as Total and the Isley Brothers. Soon after, if was time for the original “Queen Bee” to create her own album.
Released on November 12, 1996, Hardcore cemented Lil Kim’s status as the “Mae West of Hip hop”. With production from Sean “Puffy” Combs and Jermaine Dupri among others, the hitmaking debut, fueled by countless 70’s funk samples, paired with Kim’s fearless lyrical prowess were indeed a lethal combination. Notable for its overt raunchy sexual tone which only males were known for during this time, Hardcore was drenched in content that would make any male MC blush such as “I used to be scared of the d**k, now I throw lips to the s**t, handle it like a real b***h”. Although the Queen Bee raised a few eyebrows, Hardcore flew off of record shelves everywhere. Along with fellow hitmakers Jay-Z and the Notorious B.I.G, Lil Kim helped East Coast Hip Hop to regain its stellar status in the late ’90s.
Guest artists on the album included other members of Junior M.A.F.I.A, and both Jay-Z and the Notorious B.I.G. respectively. The promotional campaign for the album of Kim dressed in bikini and surrounded by furs, further skyrocketed her sexually explicit image.
The first two singles from Hardcore, the platinum “No Time” and remix version of “Crush on You” both peaked in the top twenty on the Billboard Hot 100, top ten of the Hot R&B Singles chart. A third single “Not Tonight” became a huge top ten success in 1997, peaking at number six on the Hot 100, number three on the Hot R&B Singles chart, and also topped the Rap Songs chart, making Kim the first female rap artist to have three consecutive number-one singles on that chart. The single was also nominated in 1998 for a Grammy award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.
Hard Core album debuted and peaked at number eleven on the U.S. Billboard 200 and number three on the Billboard Top R&B Albums chart selling 78,000 copies in its first week. The album also became a commercial success and went onto be certified double platinum, selling 1.4 million copies in the U.S. alone. Ultimately, Hardcore spent a total of 47 weeks on the Billboard 200.