“If peter piper pecked em, I betcha biggie bust em
He probably tried to fuck him, I told him not to trust him
Lyrically, I dust em, off like Pledge
Hit hard like sledge-hammers, bitch with that platinum grammar”
What were you doing on November, 12 1996 when Lil Kim dropped her debut album Hardcore? I don’t remember because it was a few days before my third birthday. Nevertheless, today let’s celebrate the Queen B.
I know a number of sisters have a love hate relationship with Lil Kim, but one thing we all can’t deny is that with the Hardcore debut, Lil Kim was able to shift the narrative of hip hop for women of color as we know it. You might not agree with that narrative, but let’s just celebrate the legacy of Lil Kim.
Twenty years later we’re still bumping “Crush on You” and we still don’t have “No Time” for fake niggas. Lil Kim brought sexuality to empowerment and complicated the typical black female hip hop artist stereotype. She was not asking anyone who they were calling a bitch, but instead she was calling herself the Queen Bitch. She applied some the same tactics that were typically used to oppress women of color and shifted it back onto men. At times she has hypersexualized and emasculated men, but she has without a doubt opened up a space for women of color to express a form of empowerment. She also opened up a new door for the way hip hop feminist scholars and researchers study black female hip hop artist.
It saddens me that the major hip hop magazines aren’t celebrating the twentieth anniversary of Hardcore, even though in the past they have celebrated the twentieth anniversary of historic albums from male hip hop artist. In some ways this shows how women are still fighting for the same respect as male hip hop artist.
Why celebrate Lil Kim? When Lil Kim came onto the scene she switched the narrative of words such as “bitch” and “ho” that were and still are derogatory terms for women. She took the word bitch and put Queen in front it, which was a form of empowerment for some women of color. It was one thing to be a bitch, but maybe this notion of being a Queen Bitch made the round the way girls feel better. Most of the women and girls Lil Kim were rapping to weren’t reading Bell Hooks, Patricia Hills Collins, or Joan Morgan. Their feminism came through a women shifting the narrative of the word bitch.
Did problems come from this narrative? Absolutely, but at least women of color who were not considered “educated” had a spot in the feminism conversation even if most parties were arguing against it.
Look at it this way, in 1996 we went from “Queen Bitch” by Lil Kim to being the “Baddest Bitch” by Trina, and from that Bad Bitch Feminism evolved led by Amber Rose. While I have my personal issues with Bad Bitch Feminism and how it’s just another form of Post Feminism, I realize that this “Bad Bitch” narrative has opened an even bigger space for women of color. The women of color who might strip, be video girls, or women who have not read the black feminist scholars.
Without Lil Kim there might not be a space for women to feel empowered. To a number of black women being called a bitch is rude, misogynistic and so on, but you have to understand that everyone comes from diverse backgrounds. Meaning what’s bad to me might be good to someone else.
If you love or hate her, please celebrate this woman of color who was just a round the way girl who sold millions of records. In celebration of today comment your favorite Lil Kim song!