Lil' Kim | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Like so many of her male counterparts, Lil' Kim fixates on sex less as a source of pleasure than a means of wielding power. (Sometimes I wonder if Kim has ever had an orgasm. Sometimes I wonder if she's even considered the possibility.) Male dominance being what it is, however, even her dimmest Y-chromosomed adversaries still have the upper genitalia in this war--the penis continues to pack more of a metaphorical punch than Kim's oral fixation probably ever will. But that hasn't kept the Queen Bee from bragging on her deep-throating prowess as if she could win equality one blow job at a time. And, as she shows on her latest, La Bella Mafia (Atlantic), her foul-mouthed shtick has matured some. If she still occasionally sounds like she's narrating an episode of MTV's Cribs ("My bathroom is Chanel / My bedroom Louis Vuitton / An office decorated in Ralph Lauren"), well, at least she's got an eye for detail--only the Big Tymers' descriptions of their cars flaunt such in-depth product research. And when she invokes her slain beau, the Notorious B.I.G., she sounds like a widowed moll--a sympathetic figure in a superficial, pulpy sort of way. Plus on two of the summer's hottest singles, "The Jump Off" and "Magic Stick," she overshadows consorts Mr. Cheeks and 50 Cent respectively--not by the limberness of her rhymes, but with a decadent purr whose resonance is deepened by the occasional, disdainful elongation of her vowels. Saturday, July 26, 4 PM, Tweeter Center, I-80 & Harlem, Tinley Park; 708-614-1616 or 312-559-1212.

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