Welcome to Record Club, a monthly feature in which the Wondering Sound staff spends a week discussing and investigating a single record. This month we’re tackling Lil’ Kim‘s Hard Core, the debut album from the Notorious B.I.G.‘s paramour-protégé and, still, one of the most sexually fearless albums in the genre. That Kim was 22 at the time of its release makes it even bolder. Here, the Wondering Sound staff discusses her upheaval of taboos, the sounds of the ’90s and its influence on rap.
I’d like to start this one off on a similar note to the way our Blink-182 conversation started, in which Joe immediately pointed out that Enema of the State had a lot of misogynistic undertones. We did a 180 by choosing Lil’ Kim’s Hard Core. It was an extremely sexually progressive album and is still boundary-pushing. It serves as an antidote to Enema and it also encapsulates exactly what was so frightening and fascinating about women to Blink-182. We have a lot to unpack about objectification, power structures, performance and production, so let’s get into it. As someone who has listened to this album at least once a week for the past 18 years, I’d like to know what everyone’s initial thoughts were, whether it was revisiting it or hearing it for the first time.