NEW YORK — After looking at her latest album cover, it's hard to believe that Lil' Kim can be uneasy about anything. She's topless, her pants are open, and money is flying everywhere.
But even the brazen Queen Bee can feel those butterflies in her rippled tummy, especially since last week saw the release of her first LP in three years, La Bella Mafia.
"Yeah, I get nervous," she admitted Thursday in her hotel room. "I get real nervous. It's just hard being a woman and being accepted for doing things on your own. I have my own record label. I basically worked this album with my team. The first week's sales, it's something that does concern me. Even with my name being a marquee name, you have to make sure everything is perfect at all times" (see "Lil' Kim Fights To Earn Back Street Cred On Mafia LP").
Kim may have a few jitters about how well her record sells, but she had no qualms about the album's first single, the Timbaland-produced "The Jump Off." On the cut, she borrows from the Lost Boyz's mid-'90s club classic "Jeeps, Lex Coups, Bimaz and Benz" on the chorus, getting Mr. Cheeks to rhyme, "This is for my peeps/ With the Bentleys, the Hummers, the Benz/ Escalades with the 23-inch rims/ Jumpin' out the Jaguar with the Tims/ Keep your bread up ..."
"I went with the whole Lost Boyz flavor because ['Jeeps, Lex Coups, Bimaz and Benz'] was absolutely one of my favorite songs during that time," Kim explained. "I got a great relationship with Mr. Cheeks, and [the chorus] fit the story line [of the song]. It was funny because when Timbaland heard it, he didn't like the hook. He was saying, 'I think you should do something else.' We were like, 'I'm telling you, this is gonna work,' and it worked."
While Kim refused to make any alterations to her single, she did decide to go back to the drawing board when naming her album. She was originally planning to title it Hollyhood, but switched up after being inspired one night while spending quality time at home in front of the tube.
The black Erica Kane fell in love with the 1997 made-for-TV film "Bella Mafia," in which a family of mob widows exact revenge for the murders of their underworld husbands.
"It was just so great," she said with a smile. "When I watched the movie, I had so much in common with the characters. It worked out perfectly and I said, 'Let me leave the Hollyhood name for [my upcoming] clothing line.'
"[La Bella Mafia] is the name of the new crew [of friends] too," she added. "Any girl who's strong and very dedicated to what they do and don't take no mess, they can be part of La Bella Mafia."