Lil’ Kim raps so frankly about sexual issues, she could make Snoop Doggy Dogg blush. She’s not, however, a gimmicky, potty-mouthed female act. Her riveting stage persona — a woman living amid guns, illegal business, and predatory men — is complex and well-rounded. She’s skilled, too, rhyming with ease over the silky subtle grooves of Hardcore, her debut album.

Originally posted January 10 1997 — 12:00 AM EST

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