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Born: Kimberly Jones; New York, New York, 11 July 1977

Early in her career, Lil’ Kim, was one of the most distinctive female voices of hip hop in the late 1990s. Lil’ Kim’s explicit and sexuality lyrics made her an icon in an era that starved for feminine balance in a male dominated business. Lil’ Kim, born Kimberly Jones, grew up in Brooklyn, New York. Her parents divorced when she was nine and she found herself in her father’s custody. She ran away in her early teens and bounced from relationship to relationship and sometimes staying on the streets. This ended when she was discovered by rapper Biggie Smalls, AKA Notorious B.I.G.. Kim became the only female member of the Junior M.A.F.I.A. (Masters at Finding Intelligent Attitudes), a group assembled by B.I.G.. It was then that Kimberly became… thee Lil’ Kim.

Warning: Adult Language

Lil’ Kim launched her solo career following the success of the Junior M.A.F.I.A. release Conspiracy (1995) and their single “Player’s Anthem. (video above)” Her debut album hit in 1996, Hard Core. Hard Core was the best-selling debut rap album by a woman at that time, and its first single, “No Time,” top charted. The lyrics on Hard Core depict a sexually liberated, confident woman who was turning the tables on a popular misogynistic hip-hop theme.

Lil Kim continues to influence the culture and throughout her career has sold more than 15 million albums and 30 million singles worldwide. She has been called one of the most influential rappers of all time and is often referred to as the “Queen of Hip-Hop.”

Take a look at a flash in Lil Kim’s career with our favorite videos:

Tell us what your favorite song from the K.I.M. is:

BLACK MUSIC MONTH COUNTDOWN: No. 25 – Future | No. 24 – J.Cole | No. 23 – Nicki Minaj | No. 22 – Rick Ross | No. 21 – Master P | No. 20 – Big Pun | No. 19 – Jeezy | No. 18 – Common | No. 17 – Scarface | No. 16 – Wu-Tang Clan | No. 15 – Kendrick Lamar

Black Music Month Countdown: No. 14 – Lil Kim  was originally published on