Kimberly Jones has come along way since her humble beginnings as Biggie's sidekick. Kim was easily the most recognizable emcee in Jr. Mafia, as her aggressive delivery and sex appeal catapulted her into the limelight. With her debut album, Hardcore, Lil' Kim helped usher in a new era of Hip Hop for female emcees - those who would openly and proudly fault their sexuality to sell records. 10 years later, Kim is still going strong and continues to be the dominant female artist in the game. This is once again evident on her fourth album, The Naked Truth.
With all the drama that has transpired the past year, Kim takes such anger and emotion, and transports it into her most personal album to date. You would assume Kim has a lot to get off her chest after being sentenced to a year and a day in jail and watching her old running mate testify against her. Kim addresses her legal woes on the brutally honest "Slippin." Over Denaun Porter's (D-12) light keys, Kim fires off at the justice system and Jr. Mafia. "Fuck the law, the whole system's corrupt/A street grudge put me in front of a judge/But I stood there like what, the Bee don't budge/It's a foul game, no such thing as fair play/And real niggaz get railroaded everyday."
Such truthfulness continues on the standout "Last Day," as Kim proclaims, "I'm the perfect example of keeping it street/Cause when it's all said and done and at the end of the day/My actions spoke louder than whatever they say/Yeah, I'll rep the hood, stood the test of time/So a cell'll hold my body and never my mind."
Kim also manages to provide some heat for the streets with the Biggie influenced "All Good" and the insanely catchy "Whoa." The album's lead single "Lighters Up" finds Kim doing her best Damian Marley impression over Scott Storch's layered production. And on the Fred Wreck produced "Kronik," Kim and Snoop combine for an x-rated weed scented tale.
With The Naked Truth, Lil' Kim displays her versatility and proves she can rap about much more than sex. However, the 21-track album does suffer from pointless skits and filler material. Unnecessary guest appearances from T.I. on "Get Yours," Bun B and Twista on "We Don't Give A Fuck," and Maino on the cheesy "Gimme That" hold The Naked Truth back from truly being something special. Nevertheless, the album is still Kim's best work since Hardcore and should keep her spot at the top warm until she comes home.