Kimberly Denise Jones (born July 11,
1974), better known by her stage name Lil' Kim, is an American rapper and
singer who was part of the group Junior M.A.F.I.A.
Jones was born and raised in Brooklyn, living much of her adolescent life
on the streets after being expelled from home. From the influence of
fellow rapper The Notorious B.I.G., she began her music career in 1995
with the group Junior M.A.F.I.A., whose debut album Conspiracy generated
three hit singles. In late 1996, her solo debut album Hard Core was
released. Hard Core was certified double platinum and spawned
chart-topping hits "No Time" and "Crush on You". Her following albums, The
Notorious K.I.M. (2000) and La Bella Mafia (2003), were also largely
In 2005, Lil' Kim served a yearlong prison sentence for lying to a jury
about her friends' involvement in a shooting four years earlier. During
her incarceration, her fourth album The Naked Truth was released to poor
sales and modestly charting singles. Lil' Kim returned to the public
spotlight in 2009 with an appearance on Dancing with the Stars.
Jones was born in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of the New York City
borough Brooklyn. At the age of 9, her parents separated, and her father
raised her until he expelled her from home. With her life at home
struggling, she then decided to move in with friends. While struggling
through her personal life, Kim met rapper Notorious B.I.G., who was a key
figure in both her personal and artistic life, particularly when Wallace
had gained popularity and influence through his relationship with Bad Boy
In 1994, B.I.G. was instrumental in introducing and promoting the Brooklyn
based group, Junior M.A.F.I.A., which included Lil' Kim. The group's first
and only album was titled Conspiracy. Three hit singles came from
Conspiracy: "Player's Anthem" (peaked at #7 on the Billboard [Hot
R&B/Hip-Hop Songs] chart and #2 on the Hot Rap Tracks chart), "I Need You
Tonight" (#43 R&B, #12 Rap), and "Get Money" (#17 on the Billboard Hot
100, #4 R&B, #2 Rap). The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)
certified Conspiracy Gold on December 6, 1995, marking sales of 500,000
units. "Player's Anthem" was Gold, and "Get Money" went Platinum (sales of
a million units).
After a year with Junior M.A.F.I.A., Jones began a solo career by making
guest performances on R&B albums and recording her debut album, Hard Core,
which was released in November 1996. The album peaked at #11 on the
Billboard 200 and #3 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. Hard
Core was RIAA-certified double platinum on March 14, 2001 after having
been certified Gold on January 6, 1997 and Platinum on June 3, 1997. The
album's lead single "No Time", a duet with Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs (who
would later change his stage name to "P. Diddy" and then "Diddy"), reached
the top spot of the Billboard Hot Rap Tracks chart and was certified Gold
by the RIAA. The following single, "Crush on You", reached #6 on the Hot
100 and #2 on the rap chart. A remix of the album's track "Not Tonight"
saw Lil' Kim team up with Missy Elliott, Angie Martinez, Da Brat and Left
Eye of TLC. The song was part of the soundtrack to the Martin Lawrence
movie Nothing To Lose, nominated for a Grammy Award, and certified
Platinum. In one stockholders' meeting of Warner Bros. Records, activist
C. Delores Tucker criticized the label "for producing this filth,"
referring to perceived graphic sexual content in Kim's lyrics.
From 1998 to 2000, Kim continued her road to stardom under the management
of B.I.G.'s best friend, Damion "D-Roc" Butler's "Roc Management", touring
and modeling for various fashion and pop culture companies including
Candies, Versace, Iceberg, and Baby Phat. In 1998, she performed in P.
Diddy's "No Way Out" tour. In the same year, she launched her own label
Queen Bee Entertainment and even though she hadn't had an album of her own
released, she was seen on dozens of remixes and guest appearances on other
artist's records. On June 27, 2000, Kim released her second album The
Notorious K.I.M. The album marked a new image and revamped look for the
rapper. Despite the limited success of its singles, the album reached #4
on the Billboard 200, and #1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart selling
160,000 copies in its opening week. It was certified platinum by the RIAA.
It was on this LP that the well-known hip-hop feud between Lil' Kim and
Foxy Brown blossmed.
In 2001, Lil' Kim teamed up with Christina Aguilera, Pink, and Mża to
remake "Lady Marmalade", which was originally written about a bordello in
New Orleans and performed by the group Labelle (which included diva Patti
LaBelle) 25 years earlier. The song was recorded for the Moulin Rouge!
film soundtrack, released in April 2001, and stayed #1 on the Billboard
Hot 100 for five weeks. The song also went to #1 in 50 countries around
the world. This was a big accomplishment for female rap, as well as for
Kim, who scored her first #1 Hot 100 hit and became the first female
rapper in history to hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. "Lady
Marmalade" also garnered Kim her first Grammy Award.
In 2003, Lil' Kim recorded a new entrance theme for then World Wrestling
Entertainment (WWE) Women's Champion Trish Stratus entitled, "Time to Rock
'n Roll", which was used during broadcasts, until Stratus' retirement. The
single was released on WWE Anthology, a compilation of entrance theme
music to various professional wrestling superstars.
On March 4, 2003, Kim released her third critically acclaimed album, La
Bella Mafia. Highly rated (4.5 mics) by music magazine The Source, La
Bella Mafia spawned the hit "The Jump Off" featuring Mr. Cheeks, which
climbed to number 16 on the Billboard Hot 100. The single "Magic Stick",
feat. 50 Cent, hit #2 on the Hot 100 without a video ever being shot.
La Bella Mafia debuted at #5 on the Billboard 200. Kim was nominated for
five Source Awards and won two ("Female Hip-Hop Artist of the Year", and
"Female Single of the Year"). This album also got two Grammy Award
nominations: Best Female Rap Solo Performance ("Came Back For You") and
Best Rap Collaboration ("Magic Stick"). She was also nominated for Best
Pop Collaboration with singer Christina Aguilera for the song "Can't Hold
Us Down", from Aguilera's album Stripped.
Greg Thomas, an English professor at Syracuse University, began teaching
"Hip-Hop Eshu: Queen B@#$H Lyricism 101". Kim herself was a guest speaker
at the school. Professor Thomas considered Kim's lyrics "the art with the
most profound sexual politics I've ever seen anywhere." David Horowitz
criticized the course as "academic degeneracy and decline". Lil' Kim also
made an appearance on the multi-platform videogame Def Jam: Fight for NY.
Kim provided voice-overs for her part in the storyline, where the player
may fight an opponent to have Lil' Kim as his girlfriend.
Kim released a fourth album, The Naked Truth, on September 27, 2005, while
serving a federal prison sentence (see below). It earned her a 5 mic
rating from The Source, making her the only female rapper to ever receive
a 5 mic rating. The album debuted at #6 on the Billboard 200 charts,
giving Kim her Third Top 10 debut on the charts. The Naked Truth didn't
sell as well as her previous works, selling less than 400,000 copies. Kim
has said that her jail sentence left her with no time to promote the
project. There have been many rumors about a re-release of Truth but to no
The music video for The Naked Truth's first single, "Lighters Up" was
number one on BET's 106 & Park for two weeks. "Lighters Up", was a Top Ten
hit on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart. The single
also reached #76 on the German Single Chart, #12 on the UK Top 75 and #4
on the Finland Single Chart. The second single, "Whoa" was released on
February 17, 2006. It reached No. 22 on Airplay. On March 9, BET premiered
the show Lil Kim: Countdown to Lockdown, which was filmed before Kim
headed to jail. The show became the highest rated premiere in BET history,
with 1.7 million viewers. In May 2006, Debbie Harry released a Lil' Kim
tribute song called "Dirty and Deep" in protest of her conviction. The
song is available free from the Deborah Harry Home Page. On June 6, 2006,
Lil' Kim The Dance Remixes was released.
Lil' Kim appeared on the eighth season reality show Dancing with the
Stars, which began airing on March 9, 2009. She was paired with
professional dancer Derek Hough until the dance couple was eliminated on
May 5, 2009, putting her at fifth place from all thirteen contestants that
On March 10, 2009, the song "Girls" by the Korean singer, Se7en featuring
Lil' Kim was released through digital stores for his U.S. debut single.
Kim appeared in the music video that was released on the same day. "Girls"
was produced by Darkchild.
Kim is currently working on her fifth solo studio album. The album is
still untitled and expected for a 2010 release. Kim began recording the
album with the Trackmasters, but due to artistic differences, Kim broke
her deal with Poke & Tone and sought out other producers to help take her
album in a different direction. One of the songs Kim recorded with the
Trackmasters, "Download" (which features Charlie Wilson and T-Pain), was
released as a single/video in May 2009 but it's unknown as to whether or
not the track will be featured on her upcoming album. The track samples
the song "Computer Love".
On March 17, 2005, Kim was convicted of three counts of conspiracy and one
count of perjury for lying to a Federal grand jury about her friends'
involvement in a 2001 shooting outside the Hot 97 studios in Manhattan.
During the trial of her co-manager, Damion "D-Roc" Butler, and her
bodyguard, Suif "Gutta" Jackson, a former member of the hip-hop group
Junior M.A.F.I.A, she testified not to have known they were at the scene.
However, video footage from a security camera placed all three at the
scene, exiting the building. This directly contravened testimony before
the grand jury. Butler and Jackson have since pled guilty to gun charges.
Jackson was sentenced, in U.S. District Court, to twelve years in federal
prison as part of plea bargain in which he admitted to firing at least
twenty rounds during the incident. The length of the sentence was said to
have been influenced by his previous gun-related convictions.
In July 2005, Kim was sentenced to a one year and a day in prison, thirty
days home detention upon release from custody, and three years of
probation. She served the entirety of her sentence at the Federal
Detention Center, Philadelphia in Center City, Philadelphia. She was
released on July 3, 2006, after serving approximately 10 months. Kim,
Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Register #56198-054, was released from BOP
supervision on August 2, 2006.
Kim and Derek Hough were partnered on season 8 of Dancing with the Stars.
Their first performance took place on March 9, 2009. During Week 1, she
performed a Cha-Cha-Cha to the song "Nasty", which earned praise from the
judges. Week 2, she and Hough performed a Quickstep to the Marilyn Monroe
staple "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend." In week 3, they performed a
Samba to "Remedio P'al Corazon", once again receiving praise, and
prompting judge Len Goodman to call her "bionic booty." During week 4,
they performed the Argentine Tango, garnering them the first 10 score of
the season from Bruno Tonioli, despite mild criticism from Len Goodman
regarding a lack of sensuality.
In week 5, Kim and Hough performed a Viennese Waltz which earned good
feedback from the judges, and which earned Kim and Derek the encore
performance spot on the results show. In week 6, they danced the jive
which earned them the highest scores for the night.
In week 7, Kim and Hough performed a Rumba, where Kim was criticized for
having toned down her performance too much, commenting that they wanted to
see her usual sexy persona back on the dancefloor. This knocked the couple
down to fifth place with the judges. However, in week 8 Kim and Hough
rebounded with their Paso Doble earning the highest score for the night.
In addition on week 8 she was part of "Team Tango".
In week 9, she was eliminated from the show despite high scores from the