Ironically coinciding with the release of The Naked Truth, Lil’ Kim counts the days until her own release; a release from federal prison, that is. You can read it in any newspaper; the Queen Bee was found guilty on charges of perjury and conspiracy, in order to protect her friends that were involved in a gunfight with rival members of Capone & Noreaga’s entourage in front of Hot 97 radio station. She proved that when it came down to it, she was not a snitch, and she took one for the team. Naturally, this thrusts her into a kind of living martyrdom, which can be the only explanation as to why both The Source and Vibe Magazine gave this album a perfect 5 out of 5 rating.
Of course, the other reason could be that Source owner Dave Mays is in bed with Kim’s manager, Hillary Weston. And when I say “in bed”, I mean, “spooning” and “dammit honey, you’re stealing all the covers.”
This of course doesn’t explain the Vibe thing (but who ever really held their word-as-bond?), but it does speak volumes about the way things are run at The Source, and why hip-hop is as fucked up as ever in 2005. Granted, this is nothing new, so let’s stick to the topic at hand.
The Naked Truth – a classic album? Usually a perfect rating is reserved for a record that does one of the following three things. A) leaves an undeniable mark on the state of hip-hop music, forever altering the sound and how it’s perceived by the masses (Run DMC Raising Hell); B) plays perfectly from beginning to end (Nas Illmatic); C) is beloved so much by the masses that it becomes embedded in the consciousness of every fan, despite it’s flaws, if any (Dr. Dre The Chronic); or D) is so influential that it spawns an entire sub-genre within hip-hop music (DJ Shadow Endtroducing). Unfortunately, The Naked Truth does none of things, and not surprisingly doesn’t even come close.
For what it is, we can’t totally hate on The Naked Truth, but that doesn’t mean we like it by any stretch of the imagination. Both “Lighter’s Up” (a.k.a. “Welcome to Jamrock, Brooklyn”) and “Shut Up Bitch” (a.k.a. “Bootleg Gossip Folks”) are decent, but ultimately disposable club garbage, that will nevertheless serve their purpose. Still, these two still don’t come close to classic dancefloor sureshots like executive producer (?) B.I.G.’s “Hypnotize” or 50 Cent’s “In The Club” (whoops). Unfortunately, “Whoa” trumps both of them, thanks to a moving track from hot newcomer, Jonathan “J.R.” Rotem, but unfortunately Kim spends her mic time on snitches, haters, and feds, rather than inspiring you to get your drink on or shake your sloppy ass. Like that day outside of Hot 97, wrong place, wrong time, Kimmy.
But Kim’s recent indictment makes for some of her most interesting and topical material yet (besides the usual “How Many Licks” drab), but hardly solidifies her as hip-hop’s first lady. Tracks like the reggae tinged “Durty” or the Eminem-inspired “Quiet” (featuring The Game) are probably the best musical incarnations of her frustration, however this theme begins to wear thin after 21 tracks.
Nevertheless, you can always count on Kim to balance it out with a few songs about her holiest of holies, as she dedicates three songs in a row about how mind-blowing her pussy is. It begins with the god-awful “Gimmie That”, which drips with gonorrhea-like residue, as Kim and awful upstart Maino play show-me-yours-and-I’ll-show-you-mine over an insultingly dated wanna-be Swizz Beat, easily crowning itself worst track on the album. It follows with “Kitty Box”, where a potentially blazing 7 Aurelius club track is wasted on Kim’s prison-tainted snatch and lazy “Going Back To Cali” flow. Finally, “The Chronic” (featuring Snoop Dogg – not to be confused with the classic album of the same name - or is it?), compares her private parts to weed, instead of say, I don’t know, a box that a cat shits in. But alas, we don’t even get to hear Snoop flow on the otherwise decent Fredwrecker. No boner here.
But it’s not just these particularly bad items that dethrone Kim of any classic status, the whole package is ripe with flaws that accomplish that feat just fine. Case in point, T.I. embarrasses Kim by overshadowing her, unapologetically killing it in sixteen bars, on “Get Yours”. The same can be said for the ig’nant “We Don’t Give A Fuck”, where both Bun-B and Twista do the same. Even Game’s hook is the shining point of “Quiet”, as Kim struggles to keep up with her laughable Eminem interpretation, trying on his “Way I Am” flow for size. Hmmm, the last few classic albums I heard, it wasn’t the guests who had the best verses on the record.
Another glaring problem with this record is Kim’s chip-on-her-shoulder mentality, which suggests that anyone that doesn’t think that Kim is the shit is simply a hater, which is obviously used to make-up for her shortcomings as an artist. While it’s mentioned several times throughout the record that Kim doesn’t deserve the mud that is slang at her on a regular basis, “comedian” Katt Willaims, who pops up during three different skits, drives the point home. Williams, who does this nails-on-a-chalkboard-squeaky-voiced-pimp-thing, delivers three excruciatingly unfunny rants about how great Kim is, in comparison to you. It’s painfully bad.
Finally, to top it all off - while this is no surprise, and most rappers are guilty of this in some form or fashion - Kim suffers from an insanely delusional sense of reality. Kim lives in a strange fantasy world where she is on the level of Jay-Z or Russell Simmons (artistically or financially). She is found regularly making outlandish claims such as “Brooklyn, home of the greatest rapppers / BIG comes first, and the Queen comes after” and “I’m number one downloaded on your MP3″. The most ridiculous of it all is during a skit where her messages are being played, where one hanger-on says in complete seriousness “Donald Trump keeps calling, he wants to go half with you on this building! And Bill Gates called about the computer thing”. Goddamn it, give me a fucking break. This is a classic record? No, Ready To Die is a classic record. This is the type of record that will be laughed at in twenty years, like hair metal is today. Watch.
Yes, The Naked Truth, in a way, does live up to one of the definitions of a classic record - that being that is does leave a distinguishing mark on hip-hop music – a stain – one representative of how mics get sold and politrix run the biz.
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