First it was Martha Stewart, and now Lil' Kim. Only in America can a celebrity be found guilty of a crime then find financial backers to help them profit from their scandals. The popular rapper, born Kimberly Jones, was convicted on March 17, 2005 on charges of perjury and conspiracy for lying to a federal grand jury about her involvement in a shooting four years ago at a New York hip-hop radio station. But her new TV show and record deal will surely ease the pain.
The hard core rap artist, known for sexually explicit lyrics and boundary-pushing attire, is also a shrewd businesswoman. During the time of her sentencing she released the recording The Naked Truth
and premiered the BET show Lil Kim: Countdown to the Lockdown
, which was shot before she headed to jail.
But what most people don't know is that Lil' Kim is also an ardent fan of jazz singers like Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan. Part of her sentencing, along with 366 days of incarceration, also includes community service work. Thus a devious plan was hatched (by her lawyers and music producer, no doubt) to create Not So Lady Sings the Blues
, inspired by one of music's all time great singers: Billie "Lady Day Holiday, with the proceeds from the sales reportedly going to local charities.
For Lil' Kim this is a departure, to say the least. How does one go from hard core and offensive songs like "Queen B****, "How Many Licks and "Thug Luv to endearing classics like "Lover Man, "God Bless The Child and "Them There Eyes ? It's not an easy or plausible transition, but when contemplating jail time, the female rapper put forth a seemingly earnest, albeit commercial effort.
The music is a mix of renditions and new material with rap vocals and (true to the genre) complete sampled lyrics by Holiday and other female vocalists. Production notes list hip-hop talents like Snoop Dog, P-Diddy, and C-Murder providing krunked up raps and beats. But for all the hype about this recording, the music is typical commercial rap, providing little more than a method to generate a quick buck. In the end, as tight as some of the beats may be, it's difficult to stomach, let alone hear, the title song: "Not so Lady Sings the Blues.
As the beauty of Billie Holiday's sampled voice sings:
Lady sings the blues
She's got them bad
She's feels so sad
Wants the world to know
Just what the blues is all about.
Lil' Kim's rap rebuttal echoes:
This b**** ain't singing the blues
I plays by my own #%&! rules!
If I have a problem with one lover
#%&! it, I got fifty others.
Ahh... What a Lady.
Personnel: Lil Kim: vocals; Various artists: vocals, instruments, production.