Love is at the heart of The King & I, Faith Evans’ duets album with her late husband, The Notorious B.I.G. As such, love’s complications are also explored with in-depth honesty throughout the project, which features an appearance by Lil’ Kim.
During her visit to Rap-Up HQ this week, the First Lady of R&B spoke about collaborating with Biggie’s ex and her former rival on “Loving You for Life.”
“I actually wanted to work with Kim on my first independent album, if I’m not mistaken,” she told Rap-Up. “Obviously, it just wasn’t the right time. God has his own timing. At the time, I didn’t even know I would be doing this album.”
About a decade later, the collaboration idea came back to the forefront. “When I started working,” she added, “I had this song, ‘Loving You for Life.’ I came up with the hook, a couple of verses, and I could just hear [Kim’s trademark growl], her coming in every time that third verse would come. I was like, ‘I think this is the song.'”
In May of 2016, Faith approached Kim about the collaboration as they rehearsed for the “Bad Boy Family Reunion Tour.” This alone was surprising to many longtime fans who thought their rivalry would last a lifetime. But Faith says it was a symbolic way of leaving “bitterness” behind.
“If we’re showing that we’ve moved past that point and we’re women enough and mature enough to come together and work together, it shouldn’t take a lot,” she said. “We’re grown. We have children and families and there’s really no need to hang onto bitterness. I just felt like that would be even doper, to give her that platform to talk about how she felt about him.”
That, she did. Faith says she encouraged Kim’s full honesty on the track. “I actually asked her to talk about how [she] felt,” explained Evans. “We both had feelings for him. That’s not going to change.”
The Queen Bee is just one of the famous guests on The King & I. The album, due May 19, also includes appearances from Busta Rhymes, Sheek Louch, Styles P, Lil’ Cease, and 112, among others. So far, the LP has spawned two coast-to-coast singles, “NYC” featuring Jadakiss and “When We Party” with Snoop Dogg.
But that wasn’t all Faith talked about during the revealing interview. Watch the full Q&A to hear about the emotional recording process, how Biggie’s son C.J. resembles his father in looks and in spirit, and why Diddy and Jay Z are not featured on The King & I.