On this day in hip-hop history, Lil’ Kim was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Shaggy broke into the mainstream with his dancehall-pop album Boombastic, Beenie Man released his twelfth album Art and Life and veteran hitmaker Timbaland stepped from behind the production boards to claim his own spotlight.
Also, the late and great Pimp C celebrated his freedom from prison with Pimpalation, and Lil Wayne kept his winning streak going by dropping his third single, “Mrs. Officer,” from the multiplatinum-selling Tha Carter III.
Check out our recap of the day’s biggest hip-hop and dancehall anniversaries below.
Lil’ Kim was born Kimberly Denise Jones on July 11, 1975 in Brooklyn, N.Y., to Trinidadian parents Ruby Mae Jones and Linwood Jones. Growing up, Kim had a tough childhood as she often saw her father physically abused her mom. "There was a great deal of verbal abuse," Kim recalled to the Washington Post in 2000. "And there was one time…when my mother had black eyes. My father told people she had fallen."
After they separated, Kim, along with her older brother, lived with her mother in New Rochelle, N.Y., but it was short-lived. Ruby Mae was unable to support her family and granted Linwood full custody of the two children. "I was basically living out of the trunk of my car," Kim's mother explained to the Washington Post. "And I didn't feel it was appropriate for [the children]. So I let Kim go to live with her father."
However, according to Kim, her father was verbally and physically abusive to her. On at least one occasion, Kim remembers waking up in the morning with a fist crashing into her face. Kim also remembers stabbing her father with a pair of scissors during an argument. At the age of 14, Kim had enough of the violence and left home.
At the age of 17, Kim met Christopher Wallace, a small-time drug dealer on the verge of becoming a major rap star, on a street corner in Brooklyn. She performed an impromptu rap for him and "he was sold" on her becoming a rapper. Once Wallace signed with Bad Boy Entertainment in 1992 (as the Notorious B.I.G.), he formed the hip-hop group, Junior MAFIA, which included Lil' Kim.
After the success of Junior MAFIA, Kim would venture on her own solo run starting with her 1995 solo debut album, Hardcore, further solidifying herself as one of the top female rappers in hip-hop.
At the age of 42, Kim is not worried about being recognized as one of the pioneering female artists in the rap game.
"I think, when you're great, not everyone's going to give you your props, and you can't really worry about that," she told The Guardian in 2013. "In my eyes, I'm still climbing. I'm still taking myself to the next levels in my career, and that's fine with me. When it's time for my rewards, I will get them."
Shaggy was one of the first artists to bring dancehall to the mainstream starting with his 1993 hit "Oh Carolina,” which was a remake of a ska hit by the Folkes Brothers. But he struck gold – or rather platinum – with his fourth album Boombastic on Virgin Records. The title track became one of the biggest songs of 1995, reaching No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart upon its release. According to Shaggy, he came up with the song's lyrics while listening to the demo track in his car. The dancehall star admits that “Boombastic” is all about his manhood.
"If you listen to 'Boombastic,' I’m literally talking about my cock in a candid way," he said ( Miami New Times). "It’s all just like a cheesy pickup line."
"'Boombastic' was a perfect breakout [hit] because it stands by itself now and it is Shaggy," he continued. "If there’s ever a song in my catalog that is Shaggy, that song is Shaggy. That’s what introduced the world to Shaggy as a household name."
The album Boombastic eventually went platinum (1 million copies sold in the U.S.) and earned Shaggy his first Grammy in 1996 for Best Reggae Album.
By 1997, Timbaland was at top of his game. Following his innovative production work on albums by Aaliyah, Missy Elliott and Ginuwine, he secured himself an artist deal with Blackground Records.
To give fans a taste of what he’d be bringing as a rapper/producer, Timbo dropped “Up Jumps da Boogie” featuring Aaliyah and Missy Elliott. The song also featured fellow Virginia rhymer Magoo, whose nasally rhyme flow is often compared to Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest.
Over a quirky beat, Magoo delivers an off-kilter verse with references to cult films such as Lean on Me and Beat Street. “F— Crazy Joe, my name is Crazy Flow / You thought I had eight but I got ten more,” he spits, adding, “Offbeat and on beat, old school like Beat Street / I stink like Pop's feet, make sweat with no heat.”
The song reached No. 1 on the Billboard Rap Songs chart, nicely setting up the future release of Timbaland and Magoo’s debut album, Welcome to Our World.
The rap tandem dropped one more album –– 2001’s Indecent Proposal –– before calling it quits. Magoo told Billboard that their partnership goes way beyond the music.
"Tim and Magoo is more a friendship than it is a group," he said. "Tim and Magoo is just two friends who started rapping together and became a group."
After Shaggy left Virgin Records due to the creative differences, the label began its search for their next superstar to fully usher dancehall/reggae into the mainstream. In 1998, they signed Beenie Man who was already a major International star. The dancehall veteran was eager to conquer the U.S. following his breakthrough hit, “Who Am I (Sim Simma)" from his 1997 album, Many Moods of Moses.
In 2000, Beenie Man released his twelfth project Art and Life, a collection of songs that he describes as a reflection of his life through music. The set’s first single, “Girls Dem Sugar" (featuring Mya), was produced by the Neptunes and was inspired by his previous hit "Who Am I.”
Art and Life nearly went gold but it didn't bring Beenie Man the mainstream success he wanted. That didn't come until 2002 when he dropped Tropical Storm. However, in a 2000 interview with online mag Kronick, Beenie said he understood that capturing U.S. audiences would take more than just one album to achieve.
"So Art & Life is the album to break the grounds in America," he explained. "We're pushin' it because we're not gonna stop until it really reach where we wanted to put it. It's just representing me."
"Breaking through is great but I'm not a one-hit wonder, nor am I a one-album artist," he continued. "I've been the Artist of the Decade in Dancehall music. All I need to do is be an artist recognized in America that people say, 'Here goes a new Beenie Man!' Not 'Beenie Man the Sim-Simma guy,' 'Beenie Man the Girl's Dem Sugar,' 'Beenie Man Roll Deep.' I'm talking about Beenie Man [being a star like]…a JAY-Z, DMX. Beenie Man!!"
On Dec. 30, 2005, after spending four years in prison for violating his probation from an aggravated assault charge, the late Pimp C hit the ground running and started recording his second project, Pimpalation. The collection was the late rapper's musical love letter to his beloved native city of Houston, Texas.
The 17-song album boasts a slew of heavyweight rappers from H-Town, including fellow UGK member Bun B, Scarface, Willie D, Mike Jones, Slim Thug, Big Mike, Trae, Chamillionaire, Lil’ Keke and Z-Ro. Although Pimp C delivered club anthems like “Pourin’ Up” and “Knockin’ Doorz Down,” he also rapped about his freedom from prison on the Tom Petty-sampling “I’m Free.”
Using the guitars and hook from the late rocker’s 1989 hit "Free Fallin,'" Pimp C turned Petty's ode of "good girl who loved her mama" into an anthem about his own freedom after serving four years in prison.
"It was 'Free Pimp C' but now see, the pimp is free / Old school gave me that before I left that CT," he rapped on the song. "They locked up my body but my mind never stopped / Cause I was plotting, and planning, and scheming everyday / Gettin' ready for my release so I can steal the game away / From all these clone type peekers tryna sound like Pimp C / He's okay but he's not me."
Pimpalation would be his most successful album in Pimp C's short-lived career, going gold for selling 500,000 copies in the U.S. Sadly, he died on Dec. 4, 2007 from an accidental cough-medicine overdose while in his sleep.
“Mrs. Officer” is the fourth single from Lil Wayne’s sixth album Tha Carter III – one of his most commercially successful albums in his career. The video, directed by Gil Green, is a continuation of the story line from his previous clips “A Milli” and “Got Money.” In the visual, Weezy is pulled over by a gorgeous policewoman, and as the song says, all she wants me to do is f— the police, which is an obvious nod to N.W.A.’s controversial track. According to Bobby V., who appears on the song along with G-Unit’s Kidd Kidd, the song didn’t take long to create.
“Wayne loves music. That’s our common interest. When he was working on Tha Carter III, he hit me and was like, ‘Yo, I’m in [Atlanta] and I’m recording. Come through,’ he told XXL in June 2013. And we already had that vibe, so I went by the studio."
“I heard the beat and was like, ‘Can I get in the booth and put something on there?’ So I went in and kind of came up with the siren sound," he continued. "I came up with that whole thing, and Wayne was like, 'That’s dope. Keep playing with it.'"