More Reasons Why Being Deaf Sucks/Rocks

The Concept

I couldn’t really explain to you why I picked up Lil’ Kim’s new album. Well I guess I could explain it by saying I was curious. I was curious what a 5 mic album, by 2005 standards, would sound like.

But of course that got me thinking; what if I put an album labeled a “classic” and an album that I’ve currently got in heavy rotation in a head to head situation?

Unfortunately for you, I took that idea to fruition.

Lil’ Kim vs Little Brother

Yeah, I know it sounds absurd. But it’s not my idea. Y’see in the latest issue of The Source the mag reviewed both The Minstrel Show and The Naked Truth. The former received 4½ mics, while the latter received the coveted 5 mic status. Since I’ve got both albums I’ve decided to compare the two.

(I’d hate to think that anyone would question my impartiality, so let me disclose that I own all of Lil’ Kim’s albums and all of Little Brother’s albums.)

The Artwork

Since this is the first thing one notices is the packaging I figured I’d start with that.

The Naked Truth features an almost vacant looking Kim, that only a person considers roofies an afrodisiac would find sexy, on the cover. What’s scary is that this is the best picture, because it’s the one that made the cover. But whatever you do don’t flip the case over, because it’s got the creepiest image of Kim ever. She looks like something out of Jim Henson’s basement, circa The Dark Crystal. Ewwww!

Inside we see Kim in a variety of poses, wearing a variety of outfits, yet only one expression (damn Botox!) Apart from that it’s got the usual information found in rap album inlay books; producers, samples and whatnot. She’s also got nearly two pages of “thank yous”.

On the other hand The Minstrel Show features Little Brother getting their “coon on” on it’s cover. Inside we are greeted to a mock TV Guide style listing for television shows. But every show listed is actually a track on the album. Furthermore, appearing as a write up for the show, are the lyrics.

There are also mock ads for fake shows, as well as the typical track information and thank yours. They even go as far as to have a crossword puzzle.

The Winner

Um creativity vs cliché and creepiness? Advantage The Minstrel Show.

The Songs

The Naked Truth isn’t as bad as you’d expect. Kim actually has songs worth listening to. She still, masterfully, straddles the line between biting and homage by borrowing lines from B.I.G., and flows from L.L. and Eminem. But the album is listenable.

Kim continues to get personal, as she references her recent trial and sentencing. She also continues to expand her boundaries by having Dancehall and Reggae influenced tracks. Oh, and one more thing, if you didn’t know Kim was from Brooklyn you will by the end of the album since she seemingly references the borough ever other verse in every song.

Sonically the beats are range from adequate to average. Nothing really stands out. Kim employed a variety of producers, including current in demand producer Scott Storch (who’s also her boyfriend) but it doesn’t stop the album from reminding one of oatmeal. But at least it’s not cold oatmeal, right?

The Minstrel Show deals with plenty of themes as well. One theme is the pressure involved in signing to a major label and living up to expectations. There’s also the theme of responsibility, be it in the form of being a man, a father or an MC. It’s a pretty deep album.

Little Brother also inject a lightheartedness in their lyrics that hasn’t really been heard since the heydays of the Native Tongue clique. It’s refreshing to hear an MC rhyme about things that you can relate to.

The Winner

Little Brother comes out ahead again. But it should be noted that this is Kim’s best album, lyrically.

The Skits

This is where The Naked Truth really falters. Kim’s got to recurring types of skits on this album. The first features an annoying and rather unconvincing pimp dispensing advice. Those skits make 30 seconds seem like a lifetime.

The second skit is of people leaving Kim voicemails. She’s to famous people, like Kevin Liles and Monie Love, leaving her supportive voicemails. But she’s also got tons of random folks leaving her inane voicemails (though it was nice to hear from the bootlegger again.)

The Minstrel Show’s skits actually serve a purpose, they glue the album together. This is pretty much a concept album; Little Brother have their own show, The Minstrel Show a variety show. The skits make the album seem like an actual show, complete with musical guests and commercials. Again the skits are funny, not unlike De La Soul’s early albums.

The Winner

Again, Little Brother takes it. Innovative and humorous will always beat tired and pointless.

The Bonuses

Since I picked up The Naked Truth at Circuit City, I received the added bonus of a Lil’ Kim video collection. It remains unwrapped.

The Minstrel Show came with Percy Miracle’s The Ladies Champ a hilarious R&B parody album. It’s the funniest thing I’ve heard since The Story of U.S..

The Winner

The Minstrel Show, as if you couldn’t guess.

Verdict

While The Naked Truth is a good Lil’ Kim album, it doesn’t really compare to The Minstrel Show. The former feels overly long, while the latter ends with you longing for more.

Better Things For You To Read

Cam returns with the Bootleg. Personally I think that Aaron Cameron needs a standardized name. He’s been called Cam, AJC, That Bootleg Guy. I swear the guy is all over the place. Oh and listen to Nick, he’s the truth.

Shawn must think he’s Tom Cocozza or something, the way he suffers from injuries. But his column is a read, even if he’s not Fiona’s biggest fan.

KDP has given is an interesting masterpiece. It’s personal and caused me to ponder.

Gloomchen gets equally personal, but that shouldn’t be new to you.

DP’s debut should be new to you, after all it’s a debut. It’s also got tips on reviewing.

Trevor slays me every time. Give him a chance and he’ll do the same to you.

Five CD’s In My CD Player Right Now

1. Joe Budden – Mood Musik – The Worst of Joe Budden
2. Mick Boogie & Common – Uncommon
3. Juelz Santan – Back Like Cooked Crack
4. Mos Def – Mos Def-inite
5. Jim Jones – City of God

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