It’s been almost 17 years since Lil Kim delivered her raunchy solo debut Hard Core. The album was executive produced by Puff Daddy and the Notorious B.I.G., but the impact of the songs didn’t solely lie in the lush production or the clever lyrics; Kim’s delivery was the driving point. Females in rap rarely took the chances to say the things Kim said on wax—from an overpriced lifestyle to leaving sexual inhibitions at the bedroom door. Lil Kim simply didn’t care what you thought, and the result was a Hard Core debut. As Lil’ Kim readies Hard Core 2K13: Back To Da Streets, XXL revisits some of the punchy bars brought forth from the original Hard Core, from the original Queen Bee. - KI

I used to be scared of the dick/Now I throw lips to the shit/Handle it like a real bitch – “Big Momma Thang”

These are the first set of bars that opened Hard Core. Monumental? Definitely. Prior to Kim thrusting her sexuality upon the masses, women in rap often shied away from hyper-sexual references in their lyrics. The Queen Bee changed it all.

Before I caught some niggas disease/Got caught with his ki’s/Big scooped a young bitch off her knees – “Big Momma Thang”

If you saw the film Notorious, then you have some idea as to how B.I.G. and Kim first met, and how he shaped her career. Hell, he maybe even wrote these props-giving bars himself.

Lil Kim for Three Olive Vodka

B.I.G., you’re rockin my property/P.Y.P. play your position/Know I got ya wishin’ you neva started dissin’/Plus I give head better than you/Pussy get wetter than you, fuck better than you/I dedicate this song to ya ass/Like R. Kelly and that twin Pac up in your belly – “Big Momma Thang” (Remix)

The “Big Momma Thang” (Remix) wasn’t exactly on Hard Core but it was an extension of it, certainly. The interesting thing here is that Kimbo was taking shots at Faith Evans, so did Biggie write these bars too? Against his own wife? Hmmmm.

Who shot ya, huh / Who knows but they gotcha / Fed up, wet up / Maybe next time keep your head up – “Big Momma Thang” (Remix)

More shots on the remix. This time Kim throws jabs at Tupac Shakur, once again representing for her boo Biggie.

I Momma, Miss Ivana/Usually rock the Prada, sometimes Gabbana/Stick you for your cream and your riches/Zsa Zsa Gabor, Demi Moore, Prince Diane and all them rich bitches – “No Time”

Lil’ Kim definitely upped the tax bracket for the designers women demanded. It’s a very masculine approach though to assume she has to be a stick-up kid to afford those luxuries. She kept it strangely feminine though with her squeaky cadence, thereby striking a balance that few female rappers could uphold.

While you be kickin that old shit, we makin’ hits / Platinum and Gold shit / I stay draped in diamonds and pearls / Beside every man is a Bad Girl – “No Time”

That was the motto before Drake shouted Y.O.L.O.—at least for the ladies. Bad Boy ran things, but the Bad Girl was in the building and was there to ride or die for her mans and them.

Act shady, and feel my three-eighty/Auto Raven, ooh wee I see/Your girl ain’t a freak like me or Adina/Can’t fade the rhinoceros of rap/Lil’ Kim a rookie? How preposterous is that? – “No Time”

In the unedited version, Kim says “Lil’ Kim a pussy? How preposterous is that?” It adds a whole other connotation to the bars suggesting she’s fearless. But here she’s suggesting she’s a veteran in the game before even being one. That attitude echoed throughout her career, until she actually became a veteran.

Photographer: Hector Rene

Hasta La Vista, Bye-Bye, Kiss Your Kids/It’s the gangstresses/What you think this is, nigga?/Calm yourself, it’s just a little robbery/You got stricken with the poverty, starvin’ me – “Spend A Little Doe”

It’s amazing how art imitated life years later when Kim took the fall for her whole crew and committed perjury, going to jail. Here though, she took the fall for her man and he never supported her behind bars. So she decided to kill him.

You know this down-ass bitch would’ve died for ya / I used to sweat you, but now forget you / I’d rather dead you, and wet you like I never met you – “Spend A Little Doe”

Biggie’s voice is all over this verse, but hearing Kim shout these bars adds a certain je ne sais quoi. Maybe it’s a female voice sounding so violent. Whatever it is, Kimbo shoots to kill.

Keep your stone sets, I got my own baguettes/And I’ll be doin’ things that you won’t regret/Lil’ Kim the Queen Bee, so you best take heed/Shall I proceed? Yes indeed. – “Crush On You”

For some oddly ungodly reason, Kim gave the entire album version of “Crush On You” to Lil’ Cease. It was weird, but at least she eventually dropped the radio version, where this little gem introducing Kim as the Queen Bee popped up.

I’m not the one you sleep with, to eat quick/Want a cheap trick, better go down to FreakNik/You got to hit me off, buy this girl gifts of course/So I look slick, in my Six, with my Christian LaCroix – “Crush On You”

Rumor has it that in an interview, Kim once pronounced Versace incorrectly. She kind of pronounces Christian LaCroix wrong here too. There’s something charming about her not knowing how to pronounce the things she desires, right?

We dangerous/Bitches pay a fee just to hang with us/Trust, niggas lust/Without a bank account/I doubt we could swing that route – “Drugs”

There has always been a stigma attached to being a gold digger. Kim didn’t care though. Never has, never will.

Like a block of hash, got the burners up in it/Percent it, I send it back to ya greasy/Freak it Arabic style, sharmout, tilhas tizi – “Drugs”

Here’s something you won’t find on Google Translate: “sharmout, tilhas tizi” means “slut, lick my ass” in Arabic. You’re welcome.

Yes indeed, flows First Class and yours is Coach/Like the bag, the Prada mama/Jog five miles a day then I hit the sauna/My girls rock Chanel and smoke mad marijuana – “Drugs”

Coach bags used to be the American dream for women, and here comes Kim comparing them to cheap seats on an airplane. Then she drops some Prada and Chanel into the mix really driving the point home that Coach is cheap.

If Peter Piper pecked ‘em, I bet you Biggie bust ‘em/He prob’ly tried to fuck ‘em/I told ‘em not to trust ‘em – “Queen Bitch”

We know from the demo that Biggie wrote these bars. It doesn’t matter though, because Kim uttered them like they fell out of her own head.

I am a diamond cluster hustler/Queen bitch, supreme bitch/Kill a nigga for my nigga by any means bitch/Murder scene bitch/Clean bitch, disease free bitch – “Queen Bitch”

In LL Cool J’s “I Shot Ya” (Remix), Foxy Brown says “I’m sexin’ raw dog without protection, disease infested.” Then Kim says this. Shots fired? (Pun intended)

Check my pitch, authentic persona / And I’ll still stick your Moms for her stocks and bonds – “Queen Bitch”

So not only will Kim stick you up, she’ll stick up your mother too. All under 5 feet of her.

Lil Kim performs at the Key Club in L.A and brings out Da Brat for her Return of the Queen Tour.

I made my Intro getting fucked in the Pinto/Now I’m skin deep in the Lexus Jeep – “Dreams”

This was Kim’s take on Biggie’s “Dreams,” where he fantasizes about sexing the entire female R&B community. The double entendre in this line is particularly fun, considering both Intro and Skin Deep were quasi-famous R&B groups from the ‘90s and Kim uses their names to detail her sexual escapades.

And if you’re immature then I’m out the door / I’m on fire gettin’ head by the Harlem Boys Choir – “Dreams”

Kim uses a double standard to her advantage. Imagine if R Kelly wrote a line about getting head from children? Yikes.

In the M.A.F.I.A.’s land where there’s one boss and one clan / Yes mans, they surround us like steaks in pans / All ‘em wanna be the man, right hands wash the left hands / Loyalty’s priority in this fam – “M.A.F.I.A. Land”

The mafia undertones in rap ran rampant around this time period, but were dangerously misinformed. Even Raekwon pronounced “La Cosa Nostra” wrong on his song “Wu-Gambinos.” Kim arguably expressed the most informed bars about the mafia in her music. Hands down.

Diamond heist with Trife, contracts on your life/We increase the price, uhh/So guess who the bitch is?/But for now I be the mistress – “M.A.F.I.A. Land”

Before Nicki Minaj called herself a King, Kim was emasculating men by calling them bitches. The line goes both ways, calling herself a bitch (in the empowered sense) and a man a bitch (in the weakest sense).

Lil' Kim

The moral of the story is this/You ain’t lickin’ this, you ain’t stickin’ this/And I got witnesses/Ask any nigga I been with/They ain’t hit shit till they stuck they tongue in this – “Not Tonight”

Another example of how Kim knew how to take on a dominating role and use it to her advantage. Oral sex has always been something men would enjoy demanding as a form of power. Kim turned it right around and told the men to get on their knees.

I got my own Benz/I got my own ends/Immediate friends/Me and my girls rock worlds, some big niggas/Fuck for car keys, and double-digit figures – “Not Tonight”

Even though tons of Kim’s bars involved being treated to the finer things by her man, here she’s saying she’s got her own. Back then that was an anomaly. Sometimes it still is.

Police’ll never chase us we too fly for that / Processed and fingerprinted we too dime for that / I be, flirtin for certain / Wearin short skirts’n / But ain’t no dicks insertin see, that’s the difference – “Fuck You”

Kim uses her gender to her advantage once again by claiming she can commit crimes and not get caught by just being cute. How many speeding tickets have ladies ducked using this same formula?

Between me and other bitches/They fuck to get they riches/I fuck to bust a nut/Lil’ Kim not a slut/I got a reputation to look out for/Plus my boss is a outlaw – “Fuck You”

Closing Hardcore with this song, Kim basically sums it all up with these bars. She’s horny, she loves the finer things, and she loves Biggie. The end.