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Kim was soon safely ensconced on a faux canopy bed, ringed by an inner circle of hulking security guards and beyond them a throng of mostly female onlookers jostling for a peek. But if you weren't one of the media crews on hand for the requisite sound bite, the pointlessness of simply standing around soon became apparent.
One aggrieved fan decided she'd had enough, taking an angry swing from behind at a blissfully unaware Belkys Nerey as the WSVN-TV (Channel 7) talking head was escorted through the crush with her Deco Drive cameraman. "What, it's okay for a white chick to talk to Kim but not a black woman?" the fan yelled as security grabbed her. Spying Kulchur furiously scribbling notes as she was bundled out to the street, she snapped, "So I gotta be a white boy with a pad and a pen to meet Kim?" Apparently so.
Kulchur settled onto a pillow next to Kim and tried to divine the inner secrets of divadom by screaming above the roar into her ear. "I don't like people who use the word diva," Kim purred with a smile. "I prefer queen. Divas have attitude all the time, but when a queen gets annoyed, it's for a good reason." Like say, improperly tinted limo windows? Kim emitted a childlike giggle, a sound that didn't seem to jibe with her stern, trash-talking persona. She mugged for a cameraman angling in, and then earnestly explained, "Peoplelikethe fact that I don't give a damn! People can identify with that."
So just what are the ingredients of maintaining royal status? "Always keep a positive attitude, always remember to smile," Kim responded with rehearsed sincerity. Pressed, her eyes sparkled and she conceded you also need "money, diamonds, and glamour."
That, however, was the formula four years ago. In hip-hop, where "old school" now signifies the distant era of the early Nineties, four years is a long time. The Notorious KIM, Lil' Kim's followup to Hardcore, has been repeatedly delayed, re-recorded, and now finally promised for next week. Although the titularly referenced Biggie has been safely martyred into pop mythology (with a never-ending stream of vault-scraping posthumous product that threatens to dwarf his output while alive), the rest of 1996's Zeitgeist is showing signs of wear. Biggie cohort Puff Daddy (Kim's current producer and the grand architect of ghetto fabulosity) has already fallen victim to slackening record sales. An even more telling sign of Puff Daddy's fading luster has been the response to his recent gunplay travails in a NYC nightclub: Instead of sympathy or outrage, the predominate response has been public snickering.
"Oh yeah, I'm very, very nervous," Kim said of her new album's imminent release, which, if its first single is any indication, eschews the slinky Seventies soul grooves and James Brown piano breaks of Hardcore for a modern Timbaland-style digitized timbre. "I'm just happy that it's finally coming out," the queen continued. "It's very hard for me to balance my career right now. You have to deal with the hip-hop market and the pop market. My hip-hop fans don't want me to cross over, but I'm not going to cater to only one set of fans."
Between Kim's giddy preening for the cameras and her concern over marketing, one wonders how much of her "big momma thang" is a shtick sculpted by a now-deceased Svengali. Where does Lil' Kim end and Kimberly Jones begin? At the question Kim blinked, as if confused by the notion of untangling the two. Silence. Kulchur attempted a flanking maneuver. Is there some facet of Lil' Kim the public is unaware of? Back on familiar terrain, Kim leaned in conspiratorially and confided, "At times I can be shy."
Send your music news, local releases, and general gunk to Brett Sokol at 2800 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33137. Fax to 305-571-7678.