Lil' Kim's "Pissin On Em", or, How Not to Respond in a Hip-Hop Feud

I have immense respect for Lil Kim. I think she's a great female MC whose presence on the mic rarely fails to impress. She's one of those rappers you know from sound alone; the kind of rapper who doesn't need to repeat her name over and over in all her singles to be remembered. Newcomer Nicki Minaj called out Lil Kim in a song and a bunch of interviews. It was clever and well-versed, if a bit shortsighted. While Nicki walked away mostly unscathed, she did create a well-known enemy who--as far as we know--did not do anything to her.

Lil Kim just released a song called "Pissin on Em" that responds to Nicki Minaj and it's being played everywhere. For what reason other than pimping the controversy, I don't know.

The problem is this: it's not a well-done track. Her lyrics are predictable bites against someone else, like "bitches try to bite I take their ass to the vet, put them right to sleep like they popped a Xanax." It's tired. There is nothing new lyrically in the song.

Worse still, Lil Kim uses one of Nicki's beats to respond. That wouldn't be so bad if it didn't sound like they got the beat by holding a pocket recorder against the speakers in their car and looped it through Garage Band. The minor addition of 32nd notes on a digital high hat or the echoed plastic cowbell is not enough to distinguish the song from the original. Lil Kim is best when she has production values that match her biting lyrics and neither is present here.

Perhaps the greatest mistake in this response is Kim's delivery. It's weak for her. It sounds like she planned out a freestyle and tried to hide that by being tentative. While I appreciate the mimic of Nicki Minaj's very precise enunciation, it doesn't sound like Lil Kim. It sounds like some unknown rapper is trying to grab their fifteen minutes of fame by calling out the new it girl.

Lil Kim is better than this track. I don't care how long a break she took or the reason for her releasing it: anyone that's listened to her older stuff knows she's better. If anything, this is more evidence that the only reason for her early success was the rappers around her--namely Biggie--allegedly writing her verses for her. I don't think that's true, but this response track on the mixtape is not helping her defense.

If you want to go after someone in music, you have to make it hurt. It has to sting and knock the taste out of the target's mouth. It should be so horrid that non-Hip-Hop media is covering the song and controversy. The verses need to be so nasty, VH1 wants to make a special about the feud ASAP. This track will do nothing but make Nicki look like a victim of a fading star's anger, and everyone involved deserves better than this.