La Bella Mafia

Artist: Lil KimTitle: La Bella MafiaRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: aqua boogie

Kimberly Jones, better known as Lil’ Kim has a lot of issues. She’s obsessed with her paramour and arguable the greatest emcee, The Notorious B.I.G. She’s a full fledged shop-a-holic with name brands flowing off her tongue with ease. And she’s also obsessed with fellatio. With all that in mind, she heading (pun very much intended) to the top of the female rapper class her best work, post her debut Hardcore. With La Bella Mafia, a vast improvement from her sophomore jinxed album…(what was the title? exactly)…she triumphantly redeems herself.

Her old cohorts Junior Mafia and their ringleader Lil’ Cease are conspicuously absent from this album. In their place is Tha Beehive who are not exactly the better of their alternates as displayed on their self-titled album cut. With Kim blatantly returning to her street roots, it would have been nice to bring the Mafia along, even if it was just for nostalgic purposes. “This is a Warning” is just painful as Kim basically covers R Kelly’s “Woman’s Threat” Queen Bee style, except in her version she manages to miss every note imaginable.

That’s about all that can be spoken ill of Kim’s latest work because when she’s actually rapping, baby girl is nice. The Havoc of Mobb Deep produced “Hold it Now” reworks The Beastie Boys “Paul Revere” and sets the album off. There are a plenty of collaborations but Kim’s voracity on the mic is strong as it’s ever been, keeping the album very much her property. Conventionalism would say best collabo is her and 50 Cent’s “Magic Stick” or her “Get in Touch With Us” where her and Styles P trade verbal threats. But the sleeper to look forward too is the Scott Storch produce “Thug Luv” where label-mate Twista further provides fodder for why some of the best emcees never get their due while Kim convincingly flips a Midwest/Southern flow. “Shake Ya Bum Bum” is yet another Bangra inspired tune with playful, serene flutes and Lil’ Shanice, a pint sized female emcee.

But Kim isn’t playing game with the children. She brings the drama, blatantly throwing a jab at Foxy Brown, “It’s enough I gotta put up with this doo-doo brown chick”, while sucker punching Eve on the low with, “Even being #2, your chances are slim, Cause when God made Adam, he should have made Kim” on the Kanye West serviced album closer “I Came Back For You”. Get it? On La Bella Mafia, Lil Kim thankfully avoids O.D.’ing on what was, oh yeah, The Notorious KIM’s downfall, falling prey to her own hype. She must have holed up in her old Bedford-Stuyvesant, BK haunts for a few months because she’s as gritty and focused as ever, while dipped in edible Gucci thongs and Chanel, of course.