Lil Kim lost the battle before she ever said a word to Nicki Minaj. She lost for reasons beyond her control, and some within her control. She lost the same way the VHS lost when DVDs came out. She lost the way the CD player lost when the iPod took over. She lost the way books are about to lose with the emergence of e-readers. Kim also lost by playing Nicki's game.
The whys and hows of this feud will vary depending on who you ask. Ask Lil Kim and she'll tell you that Nicki owes her a Texas-sized bag of respect. "We love her. We just want her to pay homage so we can all rock together, that's all," Kim once said of Nicki. Ask the new hip-hop cover girl and she'll tell you that Kim envies her success. "Nicki, she just mad 'cause you took her spot," says Nicki on "Roman's Revenge."
What's certain is that Lil Kim has allowed herself to get suckered into a catfight with Nicki Minaj, thus making it easier for people to compare her to the less original, less accomplished, albeit insanely exciting Minaj. Nicki is savvy, motivated and smarter than people realize, and she's been taking advantage of every opportunity to get her shine on. She's been conveniently taking shots at her idol for a while.
After resisting for a few months, Lil Kim threw her hands up in exasperation and fired off a full-fledged diss, "Black Friday." The song hits the usual talking points: Nicki Minaj is a clone, Nicki Minaj broke through by shaking her tail at the industry, blablabla... "Black Friday" isn't exactly "2nd Round K.O." If anything, it reminds people who haven't already done so to go ahead and check for Nicki Minaj's Pink Friday. Score: Nicki Minaj.
That's not to say that Nicki is somehow superior to Kim. Nicki is definitely talented, relevant, and exciting enough to draw crowds that wrap around buildings. But she wouldn't be here without Lil Kim and Foxy Brown paving the way for her, a fact the Young Money first lady has admitted herself.
Kim was a bona fide hip-hop sex symbol before plastic surgeries turned her face into pepperoni pizza. If you think of hip-hop as a gentleman's club, Lil Kim, 35, is akin to the older, more experienced stripper; Nicki Minaj, 25, is the hot, new sensation at the club. If you also think of hip-hop heads as the patrons, they're more likely to favor the new chick, and then the next new chick, and the next new chick, and so on.
Music fans are a fickle bunch like that, quickly disposing of veterans like a derelict pair of fake leather boots. If Lil Kim wants to win back the people's support, she'll need a two-part rescue package.
1-A. Drop a Quality Album
Kim has to remind people that she's the original Queen Bitch. Period. She's supposedly working on a new album, Hardcore 2: All Hail the Queen. First, we hope she'll reconsider that title. While it betrays her desire to recapture the magic of the OG Hardcore, it also makes her sound desperate.
Regardless, it presents a golden opportunity to show that she still has something left in the tank, an opportunity to add a quality album to her enviable catalog. She has to take it back to the basics and bust rhymes like it's '96 all over again.
1-B. Nicki Who?
While she's at it, Kim needs to resist the temptation to clutter her album with Nicki Minaj disses. Whether intentional or not, name-dropping can be a sign of respect in battles. On the other hand, destroying your enemy with "subliminal" disses automatically puts you in a position of power. It forces you to be creative with your insults. It worked for Biggie when he battled Tupac.
It's worth noting that Nicki Minaj never actually referenced Kim by name on her album. If you can find one song on Pink Friday where Lil Kim is mentioned by name, we'll send you a pink ribbon (just pay S&H). Kim should focus her energy on her new album and let the music do the talking.
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2. Sell CDs Like Hotcakes
This isn't important in the grand scheme of things. Anyone remember who won the chart battle during the Boogie Down Productions vs Juice Crew beef? Records sales alone don't make or break legacies. But the music business is still a numbers game. Artists, label honchos, and fans are obsessed with SoundScan figures.
This will come up in the Lil Kim vs. Nicki Minaj debate. If Kim flops, people will declare her dead, lock her career in a tomb and hand the key to Nicki Minaj. Kim can turn the events her in favor by dropping a commercially successful, critically acclaimed album. The latter shouldn't be too hard, given that Pink Friday was widely panned by critics.
Sooo... Lil Kim can only win this game by harnessing the creativity of Biggie Smalls in the studio and posting Pac-like numbers on the charts. Piece of cake, right? If all else fails, she can always jump on that catchy-ass "Right Thru Me" beat for a lovefest with Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne, and Drake. That would be worth the price of admission.