At a time when women in hip-hop are truly thriving, Lil’ Kim cautiously embraces her icon status on 9—her first album since 2005’s The Naked Truth—a predominantly solo record that places her firmly in the present while acknowledging her notorious past. As pugnacious and poignant as ever in her uncensored raps, she sounds very much at home over the triumphal trap of “Go Awff” and the trembling boom-bap redux of “Jet Fuel.” On the urgent “Pray for Me,” Musiq Soulchild serenades her while Rick Ross empathizes with the dangers of the boss lifestyle he and Kim, a Junior M.A.F.I.A. veteran, share. When “Found You” pairs her with Yung Miami of City Girls, the intergenerational respect is 100% mutual.

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