Lil' Kim - Notorious K.I.M.      
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written by Ant-One    
Who can release an album filled with nothing but references to oral sex and flossy living and not get laughed out of the CD player? Lil' Kim can do it, and excell at it. With her 2nd solo album, she doesn't fall off like the sophomore efforts of her crew (Puff, Mase etc.). Kim's style has changed a bit, her lyrics contain more of an edge this time around, and, Biggie's influence is prevalent.

Lil' Kim gives us a different angle into her life, with a wide array of producers, and some powerful cameos, she locks down respect for her emcee skills. Not only does she gain respect here, this album has some hits! She picked the right combination of street/commercial tracks to score a win the second time around.

The standout track on the album is the title track, 'Notorious K.I.M.' Rockwilder laces her with bouncy production, and she flows gracefully, backed by a blazing Biggie vocal sample. Other standouts include the return of Junior Mafia tearing it down on 'Do What You Like,' each member spits flames, reminding everyone that they are still around, and can still rip it.

Other heaters include an interesting combination of Cee-Lo and Redman on 'Lil' Drummer Boy.' Over a courtroom crime story in which Redman clearly steals the show. You have the obligatory Puff Daddy influence all over the album, although here it doesn't become very annoying, Kim apparently knows when to say when. Her maturity shows, but her temper flares with her frequent statements towards Foxy Brown and her blatant biting of Kim's style.

This is a well-produced album, Mario Winans handles most of the work behind the boards, although Kim shows her versatility rhyming over beats by several little known producers. The glittery style of the production does tend to be a little annoying after at times, but it can be overlooked due to the standout tracks.

With every decent album, there are things that keep it from being a better album. With this effort, the main problem is the filler material; there are several tracks that drone on in the most boring fashion. Puff Daddy puts his mark on this product, dropping a few verses here and there, making us dream that someone would just turn his mic off. But we can't always get what we want, that becomes pretty apparent here.

In conclusion, this is a good album. Well thought out, well planned, and well produced. Kim doesn't disappoint on her sophomore effort, but she doesn't advance her style all that much, just refines it a bit. The guest appearances enhance what she brings to the table, but one things stands out. Biggie's helping hand added so much flair and confidence to Kim's tracks, lending a hook, or dropping a verse made her look incredible. She seems to be lacking an element of her style, that is the missing piece. Regardless of all that, Lil' Kim shows that she is head over heels above her closest competitor, Foxy Brown. The only other decent mainstream female emcee on the market is Rah Digga, but her style sets her apart from her the others. With this album, Kim returns with a vengeance, picking up basically right where she left off.

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