The Naked Truth
eportedly, after being sentenced to a year in prison on perjury charges (which she’s currently serving), Lil’ Kim hit the studio with a vengeance, recording hurriedly to fill out an album before facing lockup. Well, she completed an album’s worth of tracks, but sadly, that’s not necessarily a good thing. With The Naked Truth, Kim continues a sad trend in which each album she’s released since her fine 1996 debut, Hard Core, is less than its predecessor.
Did no one learn anything from the lessons of Whitney’s “Whatchulookinat”? Remember that disaster of a single? It was the first single from Ms. Houston’s 2002 album Just Whitney (the first studio album since her ’99 comeback smash My Love Is Your Love), produced by no less than her husband, Bobby Brown, and famously stumbled like few superstar records this side of Glitter. Sure, the production was limp, but the real reason “Whatchulookinat” flopped so hard was because most folks don’t want to hear celebrities bitch about their problems, especially in song. However, yet again that lesson appears to have gone unlearned, now by Lil’ Kim. The first single she dropped from The Naked Truth for the streets—i.e., on mixtapes and to radio, but not as an “official” single—was “Shut Up Bitch,” in which Kim just whines and moans (and, well, bitches) about rumors and loose talk. That she does so with some pretty weak lyrics—how exactly is “Damn, it must feel good to pay less” insulting to Star Jones?—just adds to the patheticness of the track. (The track itself is pretty weak as well, with a persistent “Space Invaders” effect and an incredibly cheap-sounding reggaeton snare making occasional appearances.)
Kim also refuses to stop referencing her mentor/lover, the late Notorious B.I.G. Yes, Kim, we know that he was very important to you, but we get the point. Not only his “B-I-G” mentioned in a majority of songs on this album, Kim quotes or interpolates his lyrics on at least six—six!—tracks, and “All Good” is built around a sample from “Juicy.” Frankly, all the B.I.G. worship serves to do nothing so much as remind you how great he was, not make you want to hear more from Kim.
Among the tracks featuring guests, “Quiet” continues to prove the Game’s by-and-large uselessness as Kim attempts to get all thuggish (to no avail—she sounds like she’s playacting) and defensive, playing the victim. Bun B drops another solid verse that’s wasted on the wildin’-out mess of “We Don’t Give A Fuck” (awful track, weak verse from Kim, weak verse from Twista [who’d better turn it around quick]), while someone named Maino (I’m guessing a protégé of Kim’s) attempts to be as offensive as possible (and he quotes B.I.G., too!) and largely succeeds, on the sex rap “Gimme That.” In case the proceedings haven’t gotten lazy enough for you, the Snoop-featuring “Kronik” compares Kim to pot—which is about where her credibility’s gone these days. I’ve loved Lil’ Kim for a long time, but I can’t do it anymore, not when she releases records this uninspired, this calculated, and just this damned bad. If this is The Naked Truth, she needs to put some clothes on; this is one of 2005’s most thudding disappointments.
Reviewed by: Thomas Inskeep
Reviewed on: 2005-10-12