Lil' Kim

The Naked Truth

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If you're going to do whatever possible to look like a doll, you might as well go all the way and sound like a talking doll, which is one thing Lil' Kim does effectively during much of The Naked Truth, her fourth album in ten years. When she yanks the cord out of her back and comes to life, it's only to deliver her most spiteful and bitter lines. She has many gripes and an even larger number of foes. The release of the album coincided with the beginning of a yearlong prison sentence for perjury and conspiracy, so it's entirely understandable why she would have some embittered thoughts to get off her chest, but even when she's playing the role of a hedonist, she's not much fun, sounding distracted and disinterested. When she applies a tired, lifeless drone to her rhymes, she often sounds downright sluggish. (Think back to Notorious K.I.M.'s "Custom Made" and imagine a Lil' Kim who sounds roughly half as excited to be on the mike.) Unfortunately, with rare exception, she has the productions to match, provided by a lengthy list of beatmakers that only makes the album jump from place to place with little sense of flow. Few of the beats liven up the content, tending to resemble knockoffs in many cases, but at least 7 Aurelius' work on "Kitty Box" spins Shocking Blue's "Love Buzz" (one of the greatest previously unused breaks) into a swirling maze of sleaze. The skits, which take up nearly 15 minutes, don't warrant a repeat listen, and neither do several of the tracks containing beats and rhymes. Hopefully, Kim's year away will leave her refreshed and ready to make a return album that's as exciting and as colorful as Hard Core or La Bella Mafia. This one's a meandering drag.

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