NEW YORK – Just when raunchy rap diva and ex-con Lil' Kim's legal woes seemed behind her, a Jamaican reggae singer has charged her with ripping off lyrics for her last album.
Kim didn't just steal her song, Tanya Stephens claims in a suit filed in Manhattan federal court last week. She did so after flying Stephens to New York, asking her to sing on one of her albums and belting out by heart the very song she pilfered to show what a big fan she was of Stephens, according to the suit.
Stephens and her representatives from the Royalty Network were shocked when they first listened to Lil' Kim's late-2005 album, "The Naked Truth."
The lyrics of Kim's track "Durty" match almost word for word with Stephens' song "Mi and Mi God" recorded in Jamaica and released in 1997, they say.
The Brooklyn-born Kim, a.k.a Kimberly Jones, even sings the tune with a West Indian accent, the suit alleges.
The lyrics are so duplicative that Stephens is claiming she should own the song and receive all past and future royalties.
To add insult to injury, Lil' Kim is one of Stephens' biggest fans, she claims in the complaint.
Although fame has eluded Stephens in the United States, she's well known in Jamaica, where she has released six albums on local labels.
Kim reached out to Stephens in 1999 and flew her up to have her sing on one of her albums.
She gushed over Stephens when they met in the New York recording studio, telling her that she was a "big fan" and that she owned several of the reggae artist's albums, the suit says. Kim even sang her favorite Stephens song, which she knew by heart. It was "Mi and Mi God," according to the lawsuit.
Stephens then sang with Kim, but the vocals never made the album.
Lil' Kim's lawyer and agent did not respond to messages requesting comment.
Stephens, 33, who played Radio City Music Hall last year, sings in a patchwork style of reggae, dance hall and R&B. It has a rough-and-tumble street style — without Lil' Kim's hip-hop sexuality.
"It's about women's empowerment," said Andrew Henton, her manager in Jamaica. "She sings about sex, but not in a raunchy way. It's more thought-provoking, more political. I wouldn't say it's like Lil' Kim."
If anything, she rejects the rapper's sexy sales pitch.
"I'm not a prude, and I'm not intimidated by sex or nakedness," Stephens told a British publication this month. "In fact, I find some of it appealing. But I don't feel that a marketing company needs to use sex to sell me a pack of flour! It's not relevant, 'cos I'm not making any sexy dumplings!"
"The Naked Truth" shot to No. 3 on the hip-hop charts and rose to No. 6 on the Billboard chart. It was nominated for album of the year for the BET Awards.
This latest legal predicament comes after Kim was released from a federal prison in Philadelphia on July 3. She had served 10 months for lying to a grand jury about a shooting that erupted outside radio station Hot 97 in lower Manhattan when her posse clashed with rapper Foxy Brown's. She completed house arrest on Aug. 3.