It’s a rare thing to achieve icon status in music today, but Lil Kim, with her naughty-but-clever wordplay, bombshell beauty and enormous presence (despite her 4’11” frame), has earned that title. With three albums under her Fendi belt, a host of scene stealing cameos on hits from everyone from Jay-Z to Missy Elliot, movie roles, cosmetic contracts and the eyes of the fashion world on her, Kim has risen to heights that no other woman in hip hop has even come close to.
After making her presence known on Junior M.A.F.I.A.’s debut album, Conspiracy, Lil’ Kim launched a solo career in 1996 with the release of her first record, Hard Core. As the album’s title implies, Kim was a rarity among female rappers — one who not only concentrated on edgy hardcore rap but also explicit sexuality, two territories that had long been the province of male rappers. Of course, Kim’s near-pornographic sexuality and hard-edged rhythms made her an anomaly within hip-hop, but Hard Core proved that she was no novelty, as it garnered positive reviews and strong sales.
A native of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, Lil’ Kim was raised by her parents until they split up when she was nine years old. Following their separation, she lived with her father, yet he threw her out of the house when she was a teenager. As a teen, she lived with her friends and, occasionally, on the streets. Eventually, she and her rhyming skills came to the attention of Biggie Smalls, who helped her cultivate her career. Smalls helped her become a member of Junior M.A.F.I.A., and Kim was a key part of the group’s hit debut single, “Player’s Anthem.” Kim also made a big impression on the remainder of Junior M.A.F.I.A.’s 1995 debut album, Conspiracy.
She returned to the music scene in 2007, participating in a number of remixes, collaborations, and concert appearances with the likes of Diddy, Keyshia Cole, Missy Elliott, and 50 Cent, among others. The following year, Kim released Ms. G.O.A.T. (Greatest Of All Time), which was produced by Mister Cee, Lance Rivera, the Trackmasters, and DJ Whookid