When it comes to Hip-Hop, very few female MC’s could balance bars, fashion and overall sex appeal in an organically smooth way. And if you ask us, even fewer can do it quite like the Queen Bee, Lil’ Kim.
A product of Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy neighborhood, Kimberly Denise Jones broke through the scene as the lone female member of Junior M.A.F.I.A., the collective led by Bad Boy Records’ flagship artist, The Notorious B.I.G. Despite the group’s debut album, Controversy, receiving moderate success, Kim’s bars on tracks like “Get Money” and “Player’s Anthem” proved that she was a lyrical force that could hold her own with the fellas.
Her time with Junior M.A.F.I.A. and standout guest verses would set the stage for Kim’s solo debut, 1996’s Hardcore. With hit singles like “No Time,” “Crush On You” and the all-star remix of “Not Tonight,” the album rose to #11 on the Billboard 200 and #3 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.
As much as she was in demand for her rhymes, Kim would also become a major figure in fashion. From Armani and Versace to M.A.C. Cosmetics and Baby Phat, Kim was the ultimate muse and the bridge between Hip-Hop and the fashion world.
Unfortunately, the road wasn’t always smooth for Kim. After B.I.G.’s murder in 1997, Kim had to deal with carrying on his legacy while growing her own. She did suffer a personal setback in 2005, when she was sentenced to a year and a day in prison for perjury.
However, like the phoenix, Kim rose above the drama and has not slowed down since.
Today, Lil’ Kim is still well-respected and in-demand as one of Hip-Hop’s Elder Stateswomen. She serves as an inspiration for some of today’s femcees, especially from her native New York.
Although there are clearly imitators and duplicators… there is only one Lil’ Kim.
Check Out Some Of Her Memorable Moments Below!
1. “Crush On You”
2. “Not Tonight (Remix)” at the MTV VMAs
Can you say… ICONIC?!
3. “No Matter What They Say”
4. THAT JUMPSUIT at The 1999 VMAs
Safe to say that when THE Diana Ross decides to give your breast a lift before hugging you… you made it.
5. “Quiet Storm (Remix)” with Mobb Deep
One of MANY stand-out guest features!
6. Showing Off Her Swimwear on MTV’s “House Of Style”
You know she doesn’t go for the regular-schmegular bikini. Nope.
7. The “Lady Marmalade” Remake With Mya, Pink, Christina Aguilera and Missy Elliott
The lead single from the Moulin Rouge soundtrack would earn Kim a Grammy for “Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals.” It’s also one of the best-selling singles of all time, with over 5 million units sold!
8. “The Jump Off”
The horns, the bars, the looks… everything!
9. “All About The Benjamins” at the 2015 BET Awards
The moment she came up from the floor in the Hardcore album cover position… it was a WRAP!
10. At “50 Years of Hip Hop” Concert @ Yankee Stadium
Almost 30 years later, Kim still proving that she is one of the greats.