“I believe strongly in my work and need time, because I put 100 percent in everything I write and everything I do. My modeling, my music, my acting, everything that I’m getting ready to get into, I put 100 percent into. I want whoever is going to back me with it to put 100 percent into it.” Lil Kim
One of the most successful female rappers of her time, Lil Kim became known for her provocative, over-the-top outfits, glamorous blonde hair-dos, pornographic attitude, sexy man-crazed looks and groundbreaking triumph. She gathered worldwide recognition and appreciation for her collaboration with Pink, Mya, Missy Elliott and Christina Aguilera in the 2001’s monster hit “Lady Marmalade,” in which she picked up a Grammy Award, two MTV Video Music Awards, two My VH1 Awards and a teen Choice Award. Initially making a reputation as a star with the New York rapper group Junior M.A.F.I.A., Lil Kim further increased her popularity as a solo artist with her debut album, the double platinum Hard Core (1996). The album spawned a No.1 rap single,”No Time” (featuring Puff Daddy) and the Top 10 hit “Not Tonight.” The latter even garnered Lil Kim a 1998 Soul Train Lady of Soul Award. A year before, she netted a Soul Train Lady of Soul Award for her bravura work on another hit, “Crush on You.”
The young performer continued attracting the attention of the public with her long-awaited platinum album, The Notorious K.I.M. (2000), which topped the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop charts and debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 chart. In 2003, Lil Kim was handed two Source Hip-Hop Music Awards for her outstanding work in her third album titled La Bella Mafia. It spawned such hit tracks as the top twenty “The Jump Off” and one of the biggest hits of the year, ”Magic Stick” (featuring 50 Cent). On September 2005, she added The Naked Truth Cover to her resume. With its lead, ”Lighters Up,” the album debuted at No. 6 on Billboard’s Top 200 Album’s chart and sold 109,000 copies during its first week of its release.
Lil Kim became tabloid headlines after she was found guilty of lying about her knowledge of a 2001 gunfight outside a New York City radio station that left one man wounded. She was fined $50,000 and sentenced to 366 days in prison. On September 19, 2005, Lil Kim entered a federal detention center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to serve one year and a day sentence with her designated federal inmate prison number 56198-054. As for her romantic life, Lil Kim was linked with actor/musician Christopher Wallace (a.k.a. Notorious B.I.G/ Biggie Smalls). Her secret romance was publicly known following the murder of Smalls on March 9, 1997. She was obviously emotional at his funeral and even reportedly was pregnant from him, though she had an abortion.
Childhood and Family:
A native of Brooklyn, New York, Kimberly Denise Jones, who would later be famous as Lil Kim, was born on July 11, 1975, to parents Linwood Jones and Ruby Mae. Along with her older brother Christopher Jones, Kim was raised by her parents until they filed for divorce when she was 9. Following the split, Lil Kim, who carried the nickname Queen Bee, spent the rest of her childhood under the custody of her authoritarian dad. Disobedient Kim eventually left home due to a stressful relationship with her father. In her teens, she lived with friends, drug-dealing boyfriends and sporadically on the streets. To support her life, she even once worked as a prostitute. An encounter with mentor and father figure Christopher Wallace (A.K.A Biggie Smalls/ Notorious B.I.G) subsequently changed her life. She began to clean up her act and gave music a try.
A product of a broken home, Lil Kim (nicknamed due to her 4’11” frame) was spotted by Biggie Smalls while a teen living on the streets. Kim’s rhyming soon caught the eye of Smalls and he encouraged his protégé to pursue a rapping career. With the help of her mentor, Lil Kim started her career by joining the rap group Junior M.A.F.I.A and inked a contract with Biggie's Undeas label. The only female member of the group, she stood out among the Junior M.A.F.I.A and was a key part of their hit debut single “Player’s Anthem.” The track peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100. When Junior M.A.F.I.A released their debut album, Conspiracy, in 1995, Lil Kim earned even more notice. The album premiered at No. 8 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart and spawned the top twenty hit “Get Money.”
Noticeably the Junior M.A.F.I.A’s star, Kim was invited to appear on several records by musicians like Mona Lisa, the Isley Brothers, Total and Skin Deep. Her breakthrough, however, arrived when Lil Kim launched her first solo album, Hard Core, on November 12, 1996. Teaming up with such producers as Sean “Puffy” Combs, High Class, Jermaine Dupri and SKI, the album debuted at No. 11 on the Billboard 200 as well as was a commercial hit. The lead single,” No Time” (featuring Puff Daddy), became a top twenty hit on the chart and a number one rap single. The second track, “Not Tonight,” received even bigger success as it tore up the charts and continued climbing toward the top 10 of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. Moreover, the song won her a Soul Train Lady of Soul for Best Video by a Female Rap/R&B in 1998. A year before, Lil Kim took home a first Soul Train Lady of Soul with the same category for “Crush on You.” Hard Core was finally certified double platinum by RIAA. Despite its critical acclaim among music critics, the album is perhaps best-remembered for her provocative performances on the advertisements and the album covers, where she was clad in a skimpy bikini and furs.
A tragedy struck while Lil Kim was at the top of her career. Her mentor-turned-lover Smalls was murdered in the spring of 1997. Following the death of Smalls, Kim took a hiatus from her music. Lil Kim, however, filled her off-time by keeping busy doing a series of other projects. Aside from making guest appearances on other artists’ albums, she was also one of the featured performers of P. Diddy’ highly successful Bad Boy Tour in 1998. Additionally, Lil Kim ventured into her own business by the launching her own record label, Queen Bee Records, in 1999.
In 2000, the female rap star eventually made her return to her recording studio with the release of her long-awaited album, The Notorious K.I.M., under the Queen Bee record label. The album rocketed to No. 1 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop charts and debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 chart. Unfortunately, the two tracks released in the U.S, “No Matter What They Say” and “How Many Licks,” only made it into the lower reaches of the Billboard Hot 100.
Lil Kim experienced a big breakthrough in 2001 when she joined fellow singers Mya, Christina Aguilera, Missy Elliott and Pink for the soundtrack “Lady Marmalade.” The result was amazing as the song scorched through the charts, landing at No. 1 on the Hot 100 for five consecutive weeks, as well as became the No. 1 hit on Billboard Top 40 for nine weeks. As for Lil Kim, she nabbed countless awards, including two MTV Video Music for Best Video from a Film and for Video of the Year, two My VH1 for Is It Hot in Here or Is It Just My Video and for Favorite Video, a teen Choice for Choice Song of the Summer and a Grammy in the category of Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals.
Satisfying her fans’ hunger, Lil Kim’s full-length album, La Bella Mafia, hit the music shelves two years later, on March 4, 2003. Her third album reached No. 5 on the Billboard 200 and No. 4 on the R&B chart. On its first week of release, La Bella Mafia sold 166,000 copies and went on to sell over one million copies in the U.S alone. The lead single of the album, “The Jump Off,” not only peaked within the top twenty, but it also won her a Source Hip-Hop Music for Single of the Year. Its follow-up, ”Magic Stick” (featuring 50 Cent), burned up the Billboard Hot 100, landing at No. 2, and was one of the biggest hits of the year. Due to Lil Kim’s brilliant work, she was awarded a Source Hip-Hop Music for Female Artist of the Year in 2003.
Already a famous rapper, Lil Kim also branched out to acting. In 1999, she made her film debut with the tiny role of Alex in the romantic comedy She's All That, starring Rachael Leigh Cook and Freddie Prinze Jr. The same year, she also guest starred as a freedom fighter in an episode of her buddy Pamela Anderson’s series, “V.I.P.” Her later roles include a cameo in Longshot (2000), Tina Parker in Juwanna Mann (2002), Chastity in Gang of Roses (2003) and portraying herself in Nora's Hair Salon (2004).
Recently, while serving a one-year and one-day prison sentence at the Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia, Lil Kim released her new album, The Naked Truth Cover, on September 27, 2005. It premiered at No. 6 on Billboard’s Top 200 Album’s chart and sold 109,000 copies in its first week of release. The lead single, ”Lighters Up,” has already become a top forty hit.