At one point, Lil’ Kim held the rap world in the palm of her hand and she was dubbed the “Queen Bee” because of it.
She sold millions of albums and rolled with some of the biggest names in hip hop, from the Notorious B.I.G. to Diddy. But a stint in jail and recent record label issues knocked her off her perch.
Now, she’s on tour to mark her return to music and reclaim her crown, in a tour appropriately dubbed "Return of the Queen."
Lil’ Kim came out on the stage at the Paradise Theater in the Bronx Friday in true regal hip hop fashion, surrounded by her entourage with crew members holding up flagstaffs with her logo. She looked like a royal cowgirl, wearing a scarlet jacket, bedazzled bra and frilly pants.
The crowd couldn’t hold back its excitement and it was clear that the audience was ready for the queen’s return. From the minute she took the stage, the Queen Bee had her court in a trance, rapping along to every one of her hits. She took the audience through her impressive catalog of music from “Get Money” to “Magic Stick” and “Lighters Up.”
Many crowded around the stage and most stood on their seats but it was the random and extended lulls in music that almost lost the crowd. At times it seemed as though her crew needed to regroup and in the meantime they completely forgot about the audience.
Good thing for them -- whenever she came back on stage she didn’t come back alone. Kim surprised the audience with Juelz Santana and female comrades in hip hop, Eve and Missy Elliot. The most surprising guest was Mob Wives star Drita D’Avanzo, who rapped a verse on “It’s All About the Benjamins.”
At the end of her set, Lil’ Kim expressed genuine love and appreciation to her fans who welcomed her with open arms. She blew kisses to the crowd and shouted out to the people who supported her that night. She wrapped up by singing the New Yorker’s anthem, "Empire State of Mind."
Lil’ Kim is fighting to recover the top spot, and with the public being so fickle in its support of artists, she has to fight hard. She hasn’t had an album out since The Naked Truth in 2005 and critics hated her mixtape Black Friday because it lacked originality.
Then there is the only breakout female rap star in the last 10 years, Nicki Minaj, who some would argue is the new rap queen. Lil’ Kim has a lot to prove, almost as if she was entering the game all over again.
After last night’s performance it’s safe to say she’s on the right track.
Published at 5:19 PM EDT on May 20, 2012 | Updated at 5:55 PM EDT on May 22, 2012