We salute one of the greatest female emcees who was one of the most edgy performers in hip hop. Lil Kim!
Born and raised Kimberly Denise Jones in Brooklyn, New York. Kim’s parents were concerned with giving their child a stable environment and decided to send her to catholic school. Kim’s home life was crumbling after Kim’s parents got divorced at a very young age, forcing her to live with her father.
Kim had a highly tumultuous relationship with her dad and at the age of 16 she dropped out of school and left home and began spending more and more time with rappers and lyricists Lil’ Cease, Nino Brown and Capone. Who were all part of the group Junior M.A.F.I.A. under the leadership of the up-and-coming rapper Biggie Smalls.
Junior M.A.F.I.A. (aka Junior Masters at Finding Intelligent Attitudes) released a series of singles from their debut album, Conspiracy. The single “Player’s Anthem,” was the first time Lil’ Kim was introduced to the world. Lil’ Kim debuted as a solo artist with the release of Hard Core in 1996, continuing the raunchy and lyrical wordplay that the public was expecting from the fem-cee. Critics loved her raw, unapologetic style of rapping, which was much more gritty and vulgar than female MCs of the past like MC Lyte and Queen Latifah.
The year following Kim’s Hard Core debut, Biggie was shot and killed in Los Angeles, upon hearing about his death, Kim struggled to reevaluate her life and career.
Kim’s next album, The Notorious K.I.M., wasn’t released until 2000. She continued to work with Puff Daddy on the album to stay connected to Biggie’s legacy. The certified platinum album was well-received by audiences and critics, but failed to live up to her debut.
The celebrity status that Kim had developed would skyrocket with her next project. In March 2001, she remade Patti Labelle’s “Lady Marmalade” with singers Christina Aguilera, Pink and Mya for the Moulin Rouge soundtrack. The Grammy-winning single was an huge hit, reaching No. 1 on the charts and solidifying Kim as one of the most sought after rappers—either male or female—of the early 21st century.
Lil’ Kim faced major issues with the law that would impact her life and career forever. Kim was convicted for perjury and conspiracy in 2005 for lying about her involvement to law officials and a grand jury.
After serving her sentence, Lil’ Kim released music independently and mixtapes Kim also branched out into reality television, Kim continues to make TV and concert appearances.
During the 2015 BET Awards, Bad Boy records celebrated 20 years and created a memorable moment with members of Bad Boy including Lil Kim performing classic Bad Boy music.