Tonight, the new season of “Dancing With The Stars” begins, which will include David Alan Grier and Lil' Kim. The show has become an American phenomen, garnering a strong following.
Recently, I spoke with Lil' Kim via phone from Los Angeles, California about returning to reality television, hip hop and more. The interview seemed to be going fine, but when I respectfully asked the question that is on the minds of many of her fans and has been blowing up on message boards for years, the call was swiftly disconnected... Considering BET and the African-American community have been so supportive of Kim, I wouldn't have expected her to hang up, especially after she was one hour and 45 minutes late for our interview.
Anyway, you be the judge. Here is the “Queen Bee.”
There have already been two people injured in rehearsals for “Dancing With The Stars.” How are you handling these intense rehearsal sessions?
They're very intense; I could see something like that happening. It’s a lot of work, it's really not easy. I’m really sad about it; I was looking forward to getting to know them. “Dancing With The Stars” is a little family. The cast, we're all together—we're a really friendly competition. It's sad because I was looking forward to getting to know them.
You've previously said you were a fan of “Dancing With The Stars” because you saw it while you were incarcerated. How did you make it on the actual show?
It's really funny, maybe a couple years ago they called for me to do it, but my life was crazy a couple years ago. It just didn’t fit in with the scheduling and all of that. The opportunity came back around again, they called and I was so excited. I couldn’t believe I got this second chance and opportunity.
You've said you don't look at yourself as a dancer so to speak. Did you have any hesitation signing up for a strictly dance competition?
I don’t remember actually saying that I’m not really a dancer. I know I always say my occupation is not dancing, but dancing is in my heart, dancing makes me feel good. I’ve never taken any dance classes or anything like that. Just to clear that up and clarify that—dancing is in my heart, but, yeah, I'm not a dancer, that's not my occupation. I’m not a professional dancer at all but after this show I will be! [Laughs]
Do you still identify as hip-hop or do you feel like you've transcended that category or label?
I feel like I have a really great opportunity of balancing the two. I love both of them. It's not an abandon type of thing so I feel like I have a great opportunity of balancing them both.
Do you plan on combining hip-hop elements with the dancing?
I don’t know if they're allowed to. I am taught dances by my partner. They've been on the show, they know what the show is like so obviously the show is very strategic and you have to follow the rules. I don’t know if the rules allow you to mix that type of dance. I do know there is a chance where you get to freestyle and do whatever kind of dance you want. It's obviously still choreographed. You will be seeing a little bit of Lil’ Kim in there.
This was a big controversy a couple months ago. People are wondering if you have gotten a chance to see “Notorious” yet and what did you think of it?
I don’t really want to talk about that right now, but at the end of the day everybody knows I’m very unhappy with it. I was never asked to be involved. The girl that played me never tried to reach out. Everybody knows my feelings on it. I stand totally against the movie. The movie to me and to a lot of people who was around in that era is a lot of false things.
Are there any songs that you look back, now that you are a grown woman, and you say, "I can’t believe I said that!"
Sometimes, not a song maybe a couple lyrics I say, "Oh shoot, I can’t believe I said that." But, I don’t reject them. I'm not hiding under a rock because I said it. It was a part of who I was at the time and my character at the time. You know what I mean? One thing about me is that I’m very much like the Black Madonna. I love to reinvent myself and that's because I am a very free person. I do what I feel and I love who I am. So, it's like everytime I get a chance to reinvent myself and do something different that's just me. You can't do a hundred things twice.
What is the difference between Lil' Kim and Kimberly Jones?
I don't like to say there is a difference. They are both a part of each other, but they definitely have their own personalities. Lil' Kim is my stage name and a character I use when I'm out working my livelihood. Then you also have Queen Bee who is just the queen of everything she does. That's personal, business, on stage and my career. Kimberly Jones gets to relax, be with my family and my dogs and do the things that I love. They all make up who I am.
Do you have any thoughts on the Chris Brown and Rihanna situation?
I really don't want to comment on the two because they are both like my brother and sister. I just really, really want them to pull through. I really want people to understand that nobody is perfect and that things happen in life beyond our control. At the end of the day, I wish them both the best. I still love Chris and I still love Rihanna, I love them both—and no one can judge anybody on what decisions they make. This situation is going to make Rihanna a woman and Chris a man. That's all I have to say.
Where do you think the state of women in hip hop is going? It feels like it has been very quiet —they deleted the category from the Grammys.
Well that is the first mistake. What are you saying by deleting the category of female hip hop? That's why I feel everyone should still pull for them to come through. At the end of the day, no one is helping any of the females. We got to go out and hustle on our own. We're living in a time where everybody is just for themselves. By deleting that it's almost like—and I'm just going to say this—it's almost like coming down on the gay community. It's not fair. If there was a category that the gay community was in and just because no one showed up in awhile in the gay community—you don't delete it. Like, what are you saying? Why is that? Okay, maybe it's just not the era of the females right now, but you don’t delete it because we are a huge part of why the industry is so sexy and so fly. At the end of the day, female rappers like myself, Missy, Eve—we've sold a lot more records than a lot of guys.
Do you feel like you get the respect that you deserve in hip hop?
No, I don't, but it's okay because God is going to give me that. I give the word to Him. No, I don't, it's cool. I take what I deserve and that's what I'm doing now. I’m doing what I have to do and I'm doing what's going to make Kim satisfied.
Do you have any thoughts on Remy Ma now that she is in jail?
No, I don't even think we need to bring her into this conversation. I wish her the best. When I was locked up she kicked me when I was down, but I won't do that to her. You know what I mean? Because I've been there and I know how it feels to be locked up. To be honest with you, my condolences and my heart goes out to her, but at the end of the day she's not my friend. I’m just making a point I won't do what somebody else did to me. When I was locked up she kicked me, but I wouldn’t kick her. I don’t do that because I’m a real person. I won’t do that.
Let me ask you this Kim, this is a big question that we get from everybody and you can decide if you don't want to answer it or not. There is a perception in the African-American community that Lil' Kim didn’t like the way she looked as a Black woman so she got plastic surgery to make herself look less Black. What's your reaction—
Note: Kim's publicist called shortly after the call was disconnected to say Kim was running into rehearsal and I was not hung up on. Yeah right, if she was being rushed away she would say, "I'm sorry, I have to go - thank you BET for all your support," or something. As Kim once said, "I got no time for fake ones."