LIVE: F*ck Nicki Minaj?? Lil Kim, Gang, and Poca tha Papergirl, Sonar, Baltimore

Depressing.

That’s the only word I can come up with after seeing Lil Kim’s trainwreck of a show in Baltimore last Saturday.

Let’s face it. The rap game does not treat its elders well. As a genre that is immersed in pop culture, the cultural references that dropped at the height of 90s excess (Cristal is mentioned in the chorus of “Crush On You) leave the new generation scratching their head.

Unlike rock royalty, hip-hop is always constantly “on to the next one,” and for female rap, that “next one” is Nicky Minaj. Kim and her crew make no bones about their hatred of this fact. What could’ve been a very dope show by a legendary artist was ruined by an obvious obsession with something that Kim cannot change.

As a dude who remember hiding Hard Core from his parents in high school, I expected to see a great show touching on the legacy of Queen Bee. Instead, I saw

“F*ck Nicki Minaj” – Lil Kim

One can only think about what’s going on in Kim’s mind right now. On one hand you see Ms. Minaj selling out arenas while not releasing a single album, while Ms. Kimberly Jones struggles to stay relevant after a career which saw her debut go many times platinum. As she peaked out the side of Sonar, you can only imagine what she was going through as she saw the small, yet enthusiastic crowd in a venue that is one fourth the size of the ones she used to rock in the 90s.

“Puffy should be ashamed of himself.” – Lil Kim

The quote above refers to Puffy’s insistence of managing Ms. Minaj.

Let’s not front–Kim put on a energetic set, and the crowd were appreciative of her and her legacy, but it’s obvious from her stage antics that she’s swallowing a bitter pill. Her set touched little on her debut, Hard Core–and consistedΒ  mainly on her interpretations on current hits, including her dubious rendition of Empire State of Mind Part II all in the name of keeping herself relevant.

The problem with Kim she will never see the glory of her past, and instead of going after the new generation, she should be working with them. And on top of that, she should continue to make good music. “Lighters Up,” was her last great single, and she has been dormant on the release front ever since. In a genre where you’re only really relevant now for 15 minutes, Kim has set too long on the shelf, and her dissatisfaction with the new generation will not win her new fans or keep her old ones.

“Drake Should Go on a vegan diet.” – Lil’ Kim’s protege Keys the Problem

The saviors for the night were an up and coming rapper from the Bronx and an oddly-place punk rock band from Philadelphia.

Poca the Papergirl might have the largest persona in the game right now. Sporting a fashioned military jacket and some Stevie Boi shades, Poca’s looks are already ahead of the curve. But it was her short, yet energetic set which showed promise, and establishing her as a name to look for in the unfortunately shallow female rap game.

The Bronx MC is one of the most promising I have seen in a while, and will hopefully represent for a new generation of future female MCs. Ms Kim should take notice.

Also a winner for the night? The punk band Gang, which although completely not right for the lineup (I’m still scratching my head), won over the overly hip-hop crowd. “F*ck the Police,” shouted lead singer as the all girl trio warmed up the crowd, unlike what the Beastie Boys would have done back in the days were hip-hop and punk intersected.

After the end of the night I felt saddened at the current state of Ms. Kim. A woman who has had so much plastic surgery that she looks vastly different from her 90s self (and shockingly like Ms Minaj) is striving to compete in an industry that values the present over the past. And that’s the problem. Until hip-hop respects the past, artists like Kim will be struggling for relevancy in any way they can.