The months preceding the release of Lil’ Kim’s The Naked Truth were like a hip-hop marketer’s perfect storm. There was the blazing “Lighters Up,” one of the summer’s hottest jams. There was a five-mic review in The Source that made people pay attention and could be the last time the magazine has an impact on hip-hop culture. There was a perjury trial that produced a mountain of press and attention as well as a year-long jail sentence and a platinum reputation in the hood—in a year when a ubiquitous T-shirt demanded “Stop Snitching,” a trial that centered on Kim’s refusal to edify law enforcement couldn’t have been better timed. Surely an album from a nationally known artist preceded by a gargantuan single, a perfect review, and offstage drama that made her look good would lead to big sales. But she moved less than 300,000 albums—a flop. Few think Kim’s jail term will kill her music career. But maybe that’s because you can’t kill something that’s already dead.
Brooklyn, New York