Hard Core (Lil' Kim album)

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Hard Core
Lil Kim - Hard Core.png
Studio album by Lil' Kim
Released November 12, 1996 (1996-11-12)
Recorded 1995–96
Studio The Hit Factory (New York City)
Length 56:59
Lil' Kim chronology
Hard Core
The Notorious K.I.M.
(2000)The Notorious K.I.M.2000
Singles from Hard Core
  1. "No Time"
    Released: October 29, 1996
  2. "Crush on You (Remix)"
    Released: June 13, 1997
  3. "Not Tonight (Ladies Night Remix)"
    Released: June 30, 1997

Hard Core is the debut studio album by American rapper Lil' Kim. The album was released on November 12, 1996 by Undeas Recordings, Big Beat Records, and Atlantic Records. After achieving a success with the hip hop group Junior M.A.F.I.A. and their album Conspiracy (1995), Kim began working on her solo album with The Notorious B.I.G. serving as the executive producer (besides this, he performed on four songs). She collaborated with a number of producers, such as Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs, Stevie J., David "Ski" Willis and Jermaine Dupri, among others. Other rappers, including Jay Z, Lil' Cease and Puff Daddy were featured on the album. Recording for the album took place from 1995 to 1996, mainly at The Hit Factory studio, in New York City.

The album was notable for its overt raunchy sexual tone and Kim's lyrical delivery, which was praised by music critics and is considered a classic hip hop album.[1] Hard Core debuted at number 11 on the US Billboard 200 and number three on the Billboard's Top R&B Albums, selling 78,000 copies in its first week, and reached number 26 of the Canadian Albums Chart and has sold more than 5 million copies worldwide.[2][3][4] In the United States, Hard Core was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).


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 mainly recorded at The Hit Factory in Manhattan, 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]

During the recording sessions, Kim and B.I.G made a demo for the track "Street Dreams", never released officially.


The first two singles from Hard Core, the platinum-certified "No Time" and the remix version of "Crush on You" both peaked in the top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100, top 10 of the Hot R&B Singles chart, and topped the Rap Songs chart, making Lil' Kim the first female rap artist to have two consecutive number-one singles on that chart. Both singles peaked in the top 50 of the UK Singles Chart. A third single, "Not Tonight" (Remix), became a huge top 10 success in 1997, peaking at number six on the Hot 100, number three on the Hot R&B Singles chart, and topping the Rap Songs chart. The single also reached the top 20 on the UK chart and number 10 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]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4.5/5 stars[13]
The Source 3.5/5[14]
Spin 7/10[15]
The Village Voice (choice cut)[16]

Hard Core received critical acclaim. The Source called the album "a solid debut because phat beats and rhymes are really all it takes, and they're both present",[14] while Rolling Stone magazine included Hard Core in its list of "Essential Recordings of the 90's".[17] In 2003, PopMatters wrote, "Track for track, Hard Core's thuggette-auctioneering flow melds the perfect hybrid of yoni power Mafioso and Park Avenue duchess."[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]

Hard Core debuted and peaked at number 11 on the US Billboard 200 and number three on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart,[20] selling 78,000 copies in its first week.[21] Despite not spending another week inside the top 30,[21] the album was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and had sold 2,400,000 copies in the United States and to date has sold over 5 million copies worldwide.[2][3][4][22] In Canada, the album peaked at number 62.[23]

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) Stretch Armstrong 4:17
3. "No Time" (featuring Puff Daddy)
  • Combs
  • Stevie J
4. "Spend a Little Doe"
Ski 5:35
5. "Take It!"     0:46
6. "Crush on You" (featuring Lil' Cease and The Notorious B.I.G.) Andraeo "Fanatic" Heard 4:35
7. "Drugs" (featuring The Notorious B.I.G.)
Hamilton 4:20
8. "Scheamin'"     0:49
9. "Queen Bitch" (featuring Aaliyah and The Notorious B.I.G.)
  • Jones
  • Carlos Broady
  • Nashiem Myrick
  • Broady
  • Myrick
10. "Dreams"
Prestige 4:39
11. "M.A.F.I.A. Land"
Brent "Faraoh" Toussaint 4:37
12. "We Don't Need It" (featuring Junior M.A.F.I.A.)
  • Lloyd
  • Jones
  • Rayshaun Spain
  • Mark Richardson
Minnesota 4:10
13. "Not Tonight" (featuring Jermaine Dupri)
  • Jones
  • Dupri
Dupri 4:31
14. "Player Haters"     0:43
15. "Fuck You" (featuring Junior M.A.F.I.A. and The Notorious B.I.G.)
  • The Notorious B.I.G.
  • Cornbread
Sample credits




Region Certification Certified units/Sales
United States (RIAA)[30] 2× Platinum 2,400,000[22]


  1. ^ Cummings, Jozen (May 2006). "Crime Doesn't Pay". Vibe. 14 (5): 56. ISSN 1070-4701. Retrieved August 22, 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. 
  2. ^ a b Preezy, Brown. "A Definitive Track Ranking Of Lil Kim's 'Hard Core' Album". Retrieved 9 June 2017. Hard Core peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard 200 and was certified double platinum by the RIAA, with more than 5 million copies sold worldwide, making it the most successful release from a female rapper at the time. 
  3. ^ a b Seun, After. "Lil Kim - Music/Radio - Nairaland". Retrieved 9 June 2017. Hard Core went on to sell over 2 million copies in the US alone and over 5 million copies worldwide, making it the most successful album by a female MC to date. 
  4. ^ a b Hall, Jake. "Lil Kim - Music/Radio - Nairaland". Retrieved 9 June 2017. Kim was, however, the first high-profile female rapper to flip the script on female objectification in the rap industry. She set herself apart by owning, weaponising, and celebrating her unapologetic sexuality. The result was an unprecedented success which, to date, has sold more than six million copies worldwide. 
  5. ^ Rodriguez, Kenny (August 9, 2006). "Legendary Hit Factory Studio Turning Into Condos". NobodySmiling.com. Archived from the original on December 5, 2008. Retrieved February 28, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Lil Kim Biography". Starpulse. Archived from the original on February 20, 2012. Retrieved February 28, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Why 70% Of Women Should Know Lil' Kim's Hardcore Album". The Source. July 11, 2014. Retrieved July 17, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Hardcore: Lil Kim: Music". Amazon.com. Retrieved February 28, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Lil Kim". Hip Hop Galaxy. March 14, 2007. Archived from the original on January 25, 2013. Retrieved February 28, 2012. 
  10. ^ "American certifications – Lil Kim – Not Tonight". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved November 29, 2016. 
  11. ^ Birchmeier, Jason. "Hard Core – Lil' Kim". AllMusic. Retrieved February 28, 2012. 
  12. ^ Bernard, James (January 10, 1997). "Hard Core". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved November 26, 2016. 
  13. ^ Kemp, Rob (2004). "Lil' Kim". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian. The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon & Schuster. p. 486. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. Retrieved November 26, 2016. 
  14. ^ a b "Lil' Kim: Hard Core". The Source (87): 132. December 1996. 
  15. ^ Bernstein, Jonathan (December 1996). "Lil' Kim: Hard Core". Spin. 12 (9): 141. ISSN 0886-3032. Retrieved November 26, 2016. 
  16. ^ Christgau, Robert. "CG: Lil' Kim". RobertChristgau.com. Retrieved May 30, 2012. 
  17. ^ "Essential Recordings of the 90's". Rolling Stone: 76. May 13, 1999. 
  18. ^ Sawyer, Terry (February 21, 2003). "Lil' Kim: Hardcore". PopMatters. Retrieved November 26, 2016. 
  19. ^ "Lil' Kim: Biography". Rolling Stone. April 23, 2009. Archived from the original on April 23, 2009. Retrieved February 28, 2012. 
  20. ^ "Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums: The Week of November 30, 1996". Billboard. Retrieved November 29, 2016. 
  21. ^ a b Mayfield, Geoff (July 15, 2000). "Between the Bullets". Billboard. 112 (29): 112. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved August 22, 2014. 
  22. ^ a b "Lil' Kim's Hard Core vs. Foxy Brown's Ill Na Na". XXL. November 18, 2011. Archived from the original on June 30, 2013. Retrieved November 25, 2016. 
  23. ^ a b "Top RPM Albums: Issue 9804". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved November 26, 2016.
  24. ^ "Chart Log UK: DJ Steve L. – LZ Love". Zobbel. Retrieved November 26, 2016. 
  25. ^ "Official R&B Albums Chart Top 40". Official Charts Company. Retrieved November 26, 2016.
  26. ^ "Lil' Kim Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved May 12, 2016.
  27. ^ "Lil' Kim Chart History (Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved May 12, 2016.
  28. ^ "Billboard 200 Albums: Year End 1997". Billboard. Retrieved November 26, 2016. 
  29. ^ "R&B/Hip-Hop Albums: Year End 1997". Billboard. Retrieved November 26, 2016. 
  30. ^ "American album certifications – Lil' Kim – Hard Core". Recording Industry Association of America. March 14, 2001. Retrieved January 2, 2014.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH

External links[edit]