|Studio album by Lil' Kim|
|Released||November 12, 1996|
|Genre||East Coast hip hop, dirty rap, R&B|
|Label||Undeas, Big Beat|
|Producer||Sean "Puffy" Combs, Jermaine Dupri, Christopher "B.I.G." Wallace (exec.), Andraeo "Fanatic" Heard, Carlos "6 July" Broady, Stevie J., Ski, Jacob York (exec.) , Lance "Un" Rivera (exec.)|
|Lil' Kim chronology|
|Singles from Hard Core|
- "No Time"
Released: October 29, 1996
- "Crush on You"
Released: January 3, 1997
- "Not Tonight (Remix)"
Released: June 30, 1997
Hard Core is the debut studio album by American rapper Lil' Kim. On November 12, 1996, it was released, in the United States, by the Atlantic subsidiary Big Beat Records. The album was notable for its overt raunchy sexual tone and Kim's lyrical delivery, which was praised by music critics shortly after its release.
Hard Core debuted at number eleven on the U.S. Billboard 200, the highest debut for a female rap album at that time, and number three on Billboard's Top R&B Albums, selling 78,000 copies in its first week of release, and reached the top ten of the Canadian Albums Chart. In the United States, Hard Core was certified double platinum by the RIAA, and is considered by many a classic hip hop album.
Release and reception
After making her debut recording appearance on Junior M.A.F.I.A.'s Conspiracy album, Lil' Kim appeared on records by artists such as Mona Lisa, the Isley Brothers, and Total. With recording her debut album, Hard Core was principally recorded at Manhattan-based studio, The Hit Factory, in New York City. Working with a number of producers, including Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs and Jermaine Dupri, the album featured edgy hardcore rap and explicit sexuality, as the title suggested, which at the time were two territories that had long been the province of male rappers.
Guest artists included Jay-Z, The Notorious B.I.G., and other members of Junior M.A.F.I.A. The promotional campaign for the album, including the album cover, featured provocative advertisements of Kim dressed in a skimpy bikini and surrounded by furs.
The Hard Core album debuted and peaked at number eleven on the U.S. Billboard 200 and number three on the Billboard Top R&B Albums chart, selling 78,000 copies in its first week. Despite not spending another week inside the top 30, the album became a commercial success and went onto be certified double platinum by the RIAA, selling 2.2 million copies in the U.S. alone, and a combined 3 million worldwide. The album spent a total of 47 weeks on the Billboard 200.
The first two singles from Hard Core, the platinum "No Time" and remix version of "Crush on You" both peaked in the top twenty on the Billboard Hot 100, top ten of the Hot R&B Singles chart, and topped the Rap Songs chart. Both singles peaked at in the top fifty in the UK Singles Chart. A third single "Not Tonight" became a huge top ten success in 1997, peaked at number six on the Hot 100, number three on the Hot R&B Singles chart, and also topped the Rap Songs chart, making Kim the first female rap artist to have three consecutive number-one singles on that chart. The single also reached the top twenty on the UK charts and number ten in Germany. The single was certified platinum by the RIAA. It was nominated in 1998 for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.
The album quickly garnered positive reviews, as The Source called the album "...a solid debut because phat beats and rhymes are really all it takes, and they're both present...", while Rolling Stone magazine included Hard Core in its list of "Essential Recordings of the 90's". Rolling Stone concluded in reviewing the album in the magazine's 2004 version of the Rolling Stone Album Guide:
Hip-hop had never seen anything like Brooklynite Kimberly Jones at the time of her solo debut: She single-handedly raised the bar for raunchy lyrics in hip-hop, making male rappers quiver with fear with lines like "You ain't lickin' this, you ain't stickin' this . . . I don't want dick tonight/Eat my pussy right" ("Not Tonight"). Riding the wing of Notorious B.I.G.'s Ready to Die and Jay-Z's Reasonable Doubt, Kim's Hard Core helped put East Coast hip-hop back on top in the late '90s. The album's overreliance on old '70s funk samples doesn't detract a bit from the Queen Bee's fearless rhymes: In "Dreams", she demands service from R. Kelly, Babyface, and nearly every "R&B dick" in the field. A landmark of bold, hilarious filth.
|1.||"Intro in a-Minor" || || ||2:14|
|2.||"Big Momma Thang" (featuring Jay-Z and Lil' Cease)||Kimberly Jones, Harvey Fuqua, James Lloyd, Sylvester James||Stretch Armstrong||4:17|
|3.||"No Time" (featuring Puff Daddy)||Kimberly Jones, Steven Jordan||Steven "Stevie J" Jordan or The Hitmen||5:00|
|4.||"Spend a Little Doe" ||Kimberly Jones, David Willis||Ski||5:35|
|5.||"Take It!" || || ||0:46|
|6.||"Crush On You" (performed By Lil' Cease and The Notorious B.I.G.)||Kimberly Jones, Cameron Giles, James Lloyd, Jeff Lorber, Mason Betha||Andraeo "Fanatic" Heard||4:35|
|7.||"Drugs" (featuring The Notorious B.I.G.)||D. Owen, Kimberly Jones, Fabian Hamilton, Isaac Hayes||Fabian Hamilton||4:20|
|8.||"Scheamin'" || || ||0:49|
|9.||"Queen Bitch" ||Kimberly Jones, Carlos Broady, Nashiem Myrick||Carlos "6 July" Broady & Nashiem Myrick for The Hitmen||3:17|
|10.||"Dreams" ||Kimberly Jones, Daven "Prestige" Vanderpool, Reggie Andrews||Daven "Prestige" Vanderpool for The Hitmen||4:39|
|11.||"M.A.F.I.A. Land" ||Kimberly Jones, Bert Kaempfert, Brent Toussaint, Herbert Rehbein, Richard Ahlert||Brent "Faraoh" Toussaint||4:37|
|12.||"We Don't Need It" (featuring Junior M.A.F.I.A.)||Kimberly Jones, James Lloyd, Mark Richardson, Rayshaun Spain||Minnesota||4:10|
|13.||"Not Tonight" (featuring Jermaine Dupri)||Kimberly Jones, Jermaine Dupri||Jermaine Dupri||4:31|
|14.||"Player Haters" || || ||0:43|
|15.||"Fuck You" (featuring Junior M.A.F.I.A.)||Kimberly Jones, Antoine Spain, Chris Cresco, Christopher Wallace, Rayshaun Spain||Chris "Cornbread" Cresco|
- "Big Momma Thang" contains a sample of Sylvester's "Was It Something I Said".
- "No Time" contains a sample of Vicki Anderson's "Message from the Soul Sisters" and Lyn Collins's "Take Me Just As I Am" and The Notorious B.I.G.
- "Crush On You" contains excerpts and a sample of Jeff Lorber's "Rain Dance" and Average White Band's "If I Ever Lose This Heaven"
- "Drugs" contains a sample of Soul Mann & The Brothers "Bumpy's Lament".
- "Queen Bitch" contains a sample of Roberta Flack's "Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye".
- "Dreams" contains a sample of Lyn Collins's "Think (About It)" and Jimi Hendrix's "Who Knows".
- "M.A.F.I.A. Land" contains a sample of Bert Kaempfert's "Only a Fool".
- "We Don't Need It" contains a sample of Lou Donaldson's "Ode to Billie Joe" and Shirley Murdock's "The One I Need".
- "Not Tonight" contains a sample of George Benson's "Turn Your Love Around".
- "Not Tonight (Ladies Night Remix)" contains a sample of Kool & the Gang's "Ladies Night".
Charts and certifications
- Lil' Kim - vocals, rapping
- Stretch Armstrong, Corn Bread, Andraeo "Fanatic" Heard, Carlos Broady, Stevie J., Fabian Hamilton, Ski - producer
- Kenny Ortiz, Phil Tan - engineer
- Sean Combs, Christopher Wallace - executive producer, additional vocals
- Jermaine Dupri - producer, engineer, additional vocals
- Tony Black - engineer, mixing
- James Cruz, Herb Powers, Jr. - mastering
- Junior M.A.F.I.A., Jay-Z - additional vocals
- LaMarquis Mark Jefferson - bass
- Michael Levine - photography