Hard Core (Lil' Kim album)

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Hard Core
Studio album by Lil' Kim
Released November 12, 1996 (1996-11-12)
Recorded 1995–96
Genre East Coast hip hop, dirty rap, R&B
Length 56:59
Label Undeas, Big Beat
Producer Sean "Puffy" Combs, Jermaine Dupri, Christopher "B.I.G." Wallace (exec.), Andraeo "Fanatic" Heard, Carlos "6 July" Broady, Stevie J., Ski, Jacob York (exec.), Lance "Un" Rivera (exec.)
Lil' Kim chronology
  • Hard Core
  • (1996)
Singles from Hard Core
  1. "No Time"
    Released: October 29, 1996 (1996-10-29)
  2. "Crush on You"
    Released: June 13, 1997 (1997-06-13)
  3. "Not Tonight (Ladies Night Remix)"
    Released: June 30, 1997 (1997-06-30)

Hard Core is the debut studio album by American rapper Lil' Kim; it was released on November 12, 1996 by Undeas Recordings and Big Beat Records. The album was notable for its overt raunchy sexual tone and Kim's lyrical delivery, which was praised by music critics shortly after its release.

Hard Core debuted at number eleven on the U.S. Billboard 200, the highest debut for a female rap album at that time,[1] and number three on Billboard '​s Top R&B Albums, selling 78,000 copies in its first week of release,[2] and reached the top ten of the Canadian Albums Chart. In the United States, Hard Core was certified double platinum by the RIAA, and is considered by many a classic hip hop album.[3][4]


After making her debut recording appearance on Junior M.A.F.I.A.'s Conspiracy album, Lil' Kim appeared on records by artists such as Mona Lisa, the Isley Brothers, and Total. With recording her debut album, Hard Core was principally recorded at Manhattan-based studio, The Hit Factory, in New York City.[5] Working with a number of producers, including Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs and Jermaine Dupri, the album featured edgy hardcore rap and explicit sexuality, as the title suggested, which at the time were two territories that had long been the province of male rappers.[6] The album was originally titled "Queen Bee".[7]

Guest artists included Jay-Z, The Notorious B.I.G., and other members of Junior M.A.F.I.A.[8] The promotional campaign for the album, including the album cover, featured provocative advertisements of Kim dressed in a skimpy bikini and surrounded by furs.[9]


The first two singles from Hard Core, the platinum "No Time" and remix version of "Crush on You" both peaked in the top twenty on the Billboard Hot 100, top ten of the Hot R&B Singles chart, and topped the Rap Songs chart. Both singles peaked at in the top fifty in the UK Singles Chart. A third single "Not Tonight" became a huge top ten success in 1997, peaked at number six on the Hot 100, number three on the Hot R&B Singles chart, and also topped the Rap Songs chart, making Kim the first female rap artist to have three consecutive number-one singles on that chart. The single also reached the top twenty on the UK charts and number ten in Germany. The single was certified platinum by the RIAA.[10] It was nominated in 1998 for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars [11]
Entertainment Weekly (A) [12]
PopMatters (favorable) [13]
RapReviews.com (7/10)[14]
Rhapsody (favorable) [15]
Robert Christgau (choice cut)[16]
Rolling Stone 4.5/5 stars[17]
Spin (7/10) [18]
The Source 3.5/5 stars [18]

The album received critical acclaim, as The Source called the album "...a solid debut because phat beats and rhymes are really all it takes, and they're both present...", while Rolling Stone magazine included Hard Core in its list of "Essential Recordings of the 90's".[18] Rolling Stone concluded in reviewing the album in the magazine's 2004 version of the Rolling Stone Album Guide:[19]

Hip-hop had never seen anything like Brooklynite Kimberly Jones at the time of her solo debut: She single-handedly raised the bar for raunchy lyrics in hip-hop, making male rappers quiver with fear with lines like "You ain't lickin' this, you ain't stickin' this . . . I don't want dick tonight/Eat my pussy right" ("Not Tonight"). Riding the wing of Notorious B.I.G.'s Ready to Die and Jay-Z's Reasonable Doubt, Kim's Hard Core helped put East Coast hip-hop back on top in the late '90s. The album's overreliance on old '70s funk samples doesn't detract a bit from the Queen Bee's fearless rhymes: In "Dreams", she demands service from R. Kelly, Babyface, and nearly every "R&B dick" in the field. A landmark of bold, hilarious filth.

Commercial performance[edit]

The Hard Core album debuted and peaked at number eleven on the U.S. Billboard 200 and number three on the Billboard Top R&B Albums chart,[20] selling 78,000 copies in its first week.[2] Despite not spending another week inside the top 30,[2] the album became a commercial success and went onto be certified double platinum by the RIAA, selling 1.4 million copies in the U.S. alone.[21] The album spent a total of 47 weeks on the Billboard 200.[22]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "Intro in a-Minor"       2:14
2. "Big Momma Thang" (featuring Jay-Z and Lil' Cease) Kimberly Jones, Christopher Wallace, Harvey Fuqua, James Lloyd, Sylvester James, Shawn Carter Stretch Armstrong 4:17
3. "No Time" (featuring Puff Daddy) Jones, Wallace, Steven Jordan Steven "Stevie J" Jordan for The Hitmen 5:00
4. "Spend a Little Doe"   Jones, Wallace, David Willis Ski 5:35
5. "Take It!"       0:46
6. "Crush on You" (featuring Lil' Cease and The Notorious B.I.G.) Jones,Wallace, Cameron Giles, James Lloyd, Jeff Lorber, Mason Betha Andraeo "Fanatic" Heard 4:35
7. "Drugs" (featuring The Notorious B.I.G.) Jones, D. Owen, Wallace, Fabian Hamilton, Isaac Hayes Fabian Hamilton 4:20
8. "Scheamin '​"       0:49
9. "Queen Bitch"   Jones, Wallace, Carlos Broady, Nashiem Myrick Carlos "6 July" Broady, Nashiem Myrick for The Hitmen 3:17
10. "Dreams"   Jones, Wallace, Daven "Prestige" Vanderpool, Reggie Andrews Daven "Prestige" Vanderpool for The Hitmen 4:39
11. "M.A.F.I.A. Land"   Jones, Wallace, Bert Kaempfert, Brent Toussaint, Herbert Rehbein, Richard Ahlert Brent "Faraoh" Toussaint 4:37
12. "We Don't Need It" (featuring Junior M.A.F.I.A.) Wallace, Jones, James Lloyd, Mark Richardson, Rayshaun Spain Minnesota 4:10
13. "Not Tonight" (featuring Jermaine Dupri) Jones Jermaine Dupri 4:31
14. "Player Haters"       0:43
15. "Fuck You" (featuring Junior M.A.F.I.A.) Jones, Antoine Spain, Chris Cresco, Wallace, Rayshaun Spain Chris "Cornbread" Cresco, Christopher Wallace 2:53
1997 re-issue bonus track
No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
16. "Not Tonight (Ladies Night Remix)" (featuring Da Brat, Angie Martinez, Missy Elliott and Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes) Carlos Crespo, K. Jones, Rick Spain, Chester Wallace Armando Colon, Rashad Smith 4:14
Sampling credits
  • "Big Momma Thang" contains a sample of Sylvester's "Was It Something I Said".
  • "No Time" contains a sample of Vicki Anderson's "Message from the Soul Sisters" and Lyn Collins's "Take Me Just As I Am" and The Notorious B.I.G.
  • "Crush On You" contains excerpts and a sample of Jeff Lorber's "Rain Dance" and Average White Band's "If I Ever Lose This Heaven"
  • "Drugs" contains a sample of Soul Mann & The Brothers "Bumpy's Lament".
  • "Queen Bitch" contains a sample of Roberta Flack's "Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye".
  • "Dreams" contains a sample of Lyn Collins's "Think (About It)" and Jimi Hendrix's "Who Knows".
  • "M.A.F.I.A. Land" contains a sample of Bert Kaempfert's "Only a Fool".
  • "We Don't Need It" contains a sample of Lou Donaldson's "Ode to Billie Joe" and Shirley Murdock's "The One I Need".
  • "Not Tonight" contains a sample of George Benson's "Turn Your Love Around".
  • "Not Tonight (Ladies Night Remix)" contains a sample of Kool & the Gang's "Ladies Night".

Credits and personnel[edit]


Chart (1996) Peak
Canadian Albums Chart 6
U.S. Billboard 200 11
U.S. Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums 3
Year-end chart (1997) Position
US Billboard 200 66[23]


Region Certification Sales/shipments
United States (RIAA)[24] 2× Platinum 2,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ "Hard Core album". LilKim.com. Archived from the original on 2000-08-29. Retrieved 2012-11-23. 
  2. ^ a b c Mayfield, Geoff (15 July 2000). "Between the Bullets". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media, Inc.) 112 (29): 112. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
  3. ^ "Recording Industry Association of America". RIAA. Retrieved 2012-03-24. 
  4. ^ "Crime Doesn't Pay". Vibe (Vibe Media Group) 14 (5): 56. May 2006. ISSN 1070-4701. Retrieved 22 August 2014. With scanty clothing and the cachet that comes with having what many consider a classic album, Hard Core, Lil' Kim was one of the few female rappers whose consistent platinum sales showed that she could play with the big boys. 
  5. ^ "Legendary Hit Factory Studio Turning Into Condos". 2008-12-05. Archived from the original on 2008-12-05. Retrieved 2012-02-28. 
  6. ^ "Lil Kim Biography". Starpulse.com. Retrieved 2012-02-28. 
  7. ^ "Why 70% Of Women Should Know Lil’ Kim’s Hardcore Album". The Source. 2014-07-11. Retrieved 2014-07-17. 
  8. ^ "Hardcore: Lil Kim: Music". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2012-02-28. 
  9. ^ "Lil Kim". Hip Hop Galaxy. 2007-03-14. Retrieved 2012-02-28. 
  10. ^ "Recording Industry Association of America". RIAA. Retrieved 2012-02-28. 
  11. ^ Birchmeier, Jason (1996-11-12). "Hard Core - Lil' Kim". Allmusic. Retrieved 2012-02-28. 
  12. ^ James Bernard (1997-01-10). "Hardcore Review | Music Reviews and News". EW.com. Retrieved 2012-02-28. 
  13. ^ Sawyer, Terry. "Lil' Kim: Hardcore < PopMatters". Popmatters.com. Retrieved 2012-02-28. 
  14. ^ "Lil' Kim: Hardcore - Undeas Recording/Big Beat". Rapreviews.com. 2005-02-01. Retrieved 2012-04-04. 
  15. ^ Bwinning (1996-11-12). "Hard Core : Lil Kim". Rhapsody. Retrieved 2012-02-28. 
  16. ^ Christgau, Robert. "CG: Lil' Kim". RobertChristgau.com. Retrieved 2012-05-30. 
  17. ^ The new Rolling Stone album guide - Nathan Brackett, Christian David Hoard - Google Boeken. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2012-02-28. 
  18. ^ a b c "Lil' Kim - Hard Core CD Album". Cduniverse.com. 1996-11-12. Retrieved 2012-02-28. 
  19. ^ "Lil' Kim: Biography". Rollingstone.com. 2009-04-23. Archived from the original on 2009-04-23. Retrieved 2012-02-28. 
  20. ^ "Lil Kim and Her Music 1994 -1999 - Yahoo! Voices". voices.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2012-02-28. 
  21. ^ Concepcion, Mariel (9 June 2007). "A Bad Rap?". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media, Inc.) 119 (23): 24. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
  22. ^ "The Billboard 200 1997-10-18". Billboard. 1997-10-18. Retrieved 2012-11-29. 
  23. ^ Billboard (1997-12-27). "Billboard - 1997 The Year In Music". Billboard Magazine. Retrieved 2014-05-08. 
  24. ^ "American album certifications – Lil' Kim – Hard Core". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved January 2, 2014.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH