In 1996, Junior M.A.F.I.A.’s own Lil' Kim arrived to seize the throne as one of the baddest women in hip-hop, bar none. 'Hard Core,' her debut album, thrusts the listener into Kim’s clutches for a ride into bedroom thrills, backroom deals, and a rawness gone untapped by the men that surrounded her. Riding the glossier takes on fundamental New York sonics, Kim refuses to play the sideline for any competitor on the mic or in the streets; she’s in full command, serving a Brooklyn realness that’s striking and hilarious and engrossing all the same. This time, she gets the neck and demands you leave her presence. She finds a man to spend it all on her, though she’ll never need him. 'Hard Core' lives to its potential by placing Kim on the pedestal, a black woman in high definition with all her...