Lil' Kim - La Belle Mafia

Ever since Lil' Kim hooked up with the late Notorious B.I.G.'s rap collective Junior M.A.F.I.A she has been one woman in hip hop impossible to ignore. She may only be a tiny 4 foot eleven, but with her outrageous image and striking appearance she's undoubtedly larger than life like a lot of rappers too numerous to mention. Trying her hand at acting she had a small part in the movie "She's All That" and starred in the comedy "Juwanna Mann". Massive in America, she has been the spokes model for Max Cosmetics and Viva Glam Lipstick with Mary J Blige. "La Belle Mafia" is eagerly anticipated and fans can be thankful that this hip hop masterpiece is as relevant to 2003 as Run DMC's "Raising Hell" was to 1986.

"Can't F**k with Queen Bee" featuring Governor and Shelene Thomas with Full Force has a smooth r'n'b production. Lil' Kim sound suitably sassy and in your face with her unforgettable New York drawl. It's a little bit more restrained though on this track. With the editing of triple XXX expletives this could make a killer single. With it's commercial appeal, catchy chorus, boastful and hard hitting lyrics, this hit's the mark every time. "This Is A Warning" covers a wide array of topics in an arresting fashion. It covers materialism, celebrity, paranoia and stalkers all under four minutes. It's half sung and half rapped and has that Dr Dre style of production. "Get In Touch With Us" has an indian vocal sample courtesy of "Zindagi Ban Gaye Ho Hum". It's confrontational lyrics, scratching and investigation of the bling bling lifestyle give this track real melodrama. The backing track is wicked and there's a great reference to the movie "True Romance" which is well worth listening out for. Lil' Kim also joins forces with Eminem's protégé, the vastly overrated 50 Cent. The track is a blast of perfection, but 50 Cent doesn't come close to Lil' Kim's style and originality. As Public Enemy once said "Don't Believe The Hype".

"La Belle Mafia" takes no prisoners. It is so important that you listen to this. Lyrically Lil' Kim can confront her inner demons, the death of Biggie, September 11th, sexism and the decay of civilization. This mixed with a wide variety of collaborations, excellent production and unforgettable tunes cannot be beaten.

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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