Hold onto your nipple pasties, ladies. Lifelounge scored one of Lil Kim's only two interviews ahead of her Australian tour this month. We talked with the Queen of Hip Hop about style, being a lady and the time Diana Ross grabbed her chi-chi.
KO: Kim? How are you? LK: Good. How are you?
KO: Um, nervous and excited. You're kind of a big deal. LK: Aww! That's so nice. Thank you.
KO: You're in Canada. How's it been so far? LK: Yeah, I’m touring and um, it’s just basically for me to, like – it was time for me to see my fans again! …Everything is going great, it’s really really wonderful. Actually it’s more than I expected and my fans are just wonderful. I have the best fans in the world.
KO: Must be a pretty good feeling. We’re excited to have you here too. All the ladies I know are losing their collective shit for your show. LK: Oh! Bring them! Make sure all your ladies come with you.
KO: I'm sure there will be a bunch of girl teams there getting rowdy. LK: We’re gonna have a lot of fun. That’s one thing I can say about my concerts, it seems like we all have a lot of fun.
KO: You have fun with your performing, also your costuming – how important is your style to your shows, or is it just something you have fun with? LK: I love fashion. I’m such a girly girl. I can’t imagine not dressing up for any one of my concerts or any one of my shows. I mean, it’s just whatever I’m feeling that day. I think that fashion is whatever that person is feeling, that’s who they are, they express themselves through their fashion choices.
KO: One of your most memorable ensembles was the purple mermaid bodysuit you wore to the ’99 MTV video music awards– LK: Yeah. [laughs]
KO: Your face when Diana Ross reached over and jiggled your boob? What went through your mind? "Diana Ross is touching my chi-chis on worldwide television!" LK: Yeah! [laughs] Oh my... I felt like such a baby at that moment. You know what, Diana is someone I’ve looked up to since I was just a little girl. Mainly through watching her movies – I’ve always known her music – but I used to watch this movie called Mahogany all the time and my mum says that I would rewind it and rewind it and rewind it. It’s so funny that I had that connection with Diana years, years, and years later and I got a chance to meet her… She was just basically giving me a motherly tap like “[gasp!] Don’t you know you have a boob hangin’ out?!” [laughs] You know. I mean, hey – I’m a trend-setter!
KO: Trend-setter for sure. You’ve been in the game for a long time. Since the mid-1990s, what’s changed in the world of hip hop? LK: I mean, I don’t like to rate music because the one thing I’m not going to do to myself is put a limit on myself. I’m constantly growing, my album came out in ’97 but I started doing music in the early ‘90s... One reason that I’m still here and I’m still relevant to this day – probably even more relevant than a lot of new people who come into the industry – is because I know how to reinvent myself, I know how to change with the times... I think that, no matter who you are these days – you could be young, you could be old, you could be new, you could be an artist that’s been in the industry for a minute – I think it’s all about a hot record these days, it’s different. I think that’s the only difference I could point out – you know, you could have a hot song back in the day but it may not break through. But now if you have a hot song – it doesn’t have to have a lot of thought behind it, it doesn’t have to be a deep record, you don’t even have to be very talented as long as you come up with something that’s catchy and, you know, something that is now.
KO: You’ve worked with Keyshia Cole, Missy, Da Brat and Biggie – is there anybody that you’d really like to collaborate with? LK: Hmm. Well, I’m a huge Rhianna fan, and she’s a friend of mine so I’m almost guessing, if I had to guess – I'm 90% sure that song is probably in the works. But you’re the first and last person I’ll tell that to!
KO: Me, and whoever who reads this? LK: [laughs] I look at it this way: if it happens, it happens. And it should be a surprise. It shouldn’t be something that people are anticipating, or have their own personal opinions on it before it even comes out. So I probably won’t ever mention that again.
KO: [laughs] So I should keep it between us? On the record or off? LK: [laughs] I just love Rhianna, I think she’s great.
KO: She is pretty great. I wanted to ask – I hope this isn’t a touchy subject – you were incarcerated for some time [Kim was jailed for about ten months for conspiracy and perjury for lying to a federal grand jury about her friends' involvement in a shooting], what was the first thing you did when you were freed? Did you have an amazing meal? Straight to your mum’s? LK: Well, I was – my mum was living with me at the time that I was released from prison. The first thing I did was just come home and relaxed with my family and friends. I really wasn’t hungry. I don’t know, I drank a lot of coffee. I drank a lot of coffee in prison, I was never a coffee drinker before prison! But when I came home I drank a lot of coffee, but I didn’t really do much else. I guess I just wanted to relax. Everything felt kind of foreign to me, it all felt different when I came home. I just had to take everything in.
KO: You’ve been through a lot. Your childhood wasn’t easy, you've had friends pass away, and a lot of drama, but you overcame a lot to end up the Queen of Hip Hop – super successful and iconic. Do you ever sit back and think about your biggest achievements? LK: I have to very freely say, and very honestly say, that I don’t think I’ve achieved that greatest point yet. I’m still – that’s the one thing about me, nothing is ever enough for me. Like, I don’t feel like I’ve achieved that high point yet. I mean, other people might see it differently, but I don’t because I want so much more out of life. And some people are content with the things they do, but not me. I’m not content… But if I had to say, one of my highest points that I’ve really appreciated... Is when I won my Grammy with the girls (when I did the song with Christina Aguilera, Pink and Mya and Missy Elliott). I, I was like “Wow! I’m here. I’ve arrived.” But I still didn’t feel like I’d reached that status where I’m like “Woah, what more can I ask for?”
KO: Junior Mafia’s ‘Get Money’ is one of my favourite songs of yours– LK: Oh! [laughs] Wow. I’ll perform that song just for you!
KO: OK. I’ll be the girl who falls down. LK: [laughs]
KO: So, ‘Get Money’ – how did you feel when you heard Erykah Badu’s version earlier this year? LK: I thought it was so cute. Every time Erykah Badu remakes a song over I always feel like it’s kind of spoofy funny, but it’s so cute. To me, it doesn’t sound like she’s trying to, you know, make a classic out of a classic. It sounds like she’s really trying to pay homage to that record. Maybe that was one of her favourite songs too, that’s kinda what I got from it. She kind of smooth-grooved it out!
KO: When you started, other female rappers were getting around in Timberlands and baggy jeans, almost replicating the boys – was it really Biggie who told you to embrace your feminine style and get on stage in heels? LK: Well, I thank God that I had people like Biggie and Lance 'Un' Rivera (who was the president of our record company, that was distributed by Atlantic Records at the time) and we wouldn’t have had it any other way. The first time I ever rhymed for Biggie I was in heels, I had just come home from work. I had a Christmas job, I was probably like fifteen... I ran into Bigge and he was sitting on a garbage can and I had on this motorcycle jacket and some black slacks and high-heeled boots, I was looking very feminine. And when I did that, Biggie just sat back and he was kind of blown away and he looked me up and down and was like “Yo, I’ve never seen anything like this!” And so... when we went into the record company when we finally got our deal, the record company was like, “OK, so we’re gonna order all these clothes from Nike and blah blah blah. But they [Biggie and Rivera] were like, “Hold up. No. Her image is how you see her now.” And the record company was like, “But that’s not how female rappers look.” But it was like, “OK, but she’ll be the one to change the game.”
KO: You've been an inspiration to a lot of young girls. You're talented, you embrace your femininity, you’re totally intimidatingly confident, very self-aware, empowered. Would you call yourself a feminist? LK: You know, I don’t. I mean, I’m very girly. I like the term girly girl... You know, I always say I’m Malibu Barbie. I like to enjoy life, and to me that’s what Malibu Barbie represents. And I can represent femininity, and I can represent for feminists, but I don’t really call myself that. But I love to represent for my ladies, and you know, always try to give them great advice. I feel like – especially in the music industry – we’re already the minority, so I like to give my women a sense of empowerment whenever I can... One thing I won’t stop doing, until I give up on music, is that I will always make music that makes women feel extremely sexy.