The Original Queen Bee: Lil’ Kim

“An empowered, independent woman in the highly misogynistic world of rap” (Zook, 2000)

Kimberly Denise Jones, also known as; Queen Bee, The Queen Of Rap, or Lil’ Kim is a lyrically dynamic powerhouse whose early childhood, adolescence, career, awards, contributions to the genre of hip-hop and R&B, and extensive discography will be explored in this post.

Early Childhood & Adolescence

Kimberly Denise Jones was born on July 11th in 1974 (48 years old). She was born and raised in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. Kim was the youngest of two children. She has an older brother named Christopher. Her parents were Linwood Jones (father) and Ruby Mae (mother) who were both from Trinidad. They split when she was 9, and when Kim was around 13 years old her mother gave her father full guardianships. Since her father was in the Marines, he was deployed often so Kim and her brother would spend a lot of time with their paternal aunt. Kim was the only girl. She did not have any other sisters or female cousins, so she spent a lot of time around her older brother and other male cousins. With her big and bold personality, she was able to hold her own. She went to Queen of All Saints Elementary School and spent 1 and a half years at Brooklyn College Academy. 

Kim and her father had a pretty good relationship until she turned 14 when she got her first boyfriend. At the age of 14, Kim left home and began living on the streets. On the streets, she would freestyle. She found her influence in female rappers and MCs like The Lady of Rage and MC Lyte. Along with rapping, Kim started selling drugs for boyfriends and had multiple obscure jobs. 

The Queen’s Career

Kim dropped out of high school in 1993. In 1994, she was invited to be a part of Junior M.A.F.I.A (Masters At Finding Intelligent Attitude) by Christopher Wallace or The Notorious B.I.G. The group consisted of The Notorious B.I.G, Lil Cease, Capone, Bugsy, MC Klepto, Chico Del Vec, Nino Brown, Larceny and Trife. When Kim joined the group, she was the only female. Junior M.A.F.I.A.’s  debut album Conspiracy was released in 1995, and ended up becoming gold certified. Conspiracy sold 500,000 copies worldwide. Lil’ Kim signed to Atlantic Records in 1996 to jumpstart her solo career. She released her debut album Hard Core, which became the highest-ever debut on the Billboard chart for a female rap artist. Hard Core sold more than 6 million copies. It was described as “An unparalleled fusion of hip-hop and pornography, the album opens with a scene in which we hear a fan buy a rocker to a triple-X flick, and then loudly pleasure himself while watching Kim onscreen.” (Zoot, 2000) This album was followed by The Notorious K.I.M (2000) and La Bella M.a.f.i.a. (2003). They both sold over 1 million copies worldwide. In 1997, one of Kim’s songs were included on a soundtrack for the movie Nothing to Lose directed by Steve Oederkerk and starred Tim Robbins, Kelly Preston, Michael McKean, and Martin Lawerence. The song wa the remix of Not Tonight (Ladies Night) with Da Brat, Left Eye, Angie Martinez, and Missy Elliot. Not Tonight was nominated for a grammy and was platinum certified.

Lil Kim’s acting career began a little bit after that. In 1997, she made her acting debut in  Gangstresses. Following that in 1998 until 2000, Kim modeled and toured with Versace, Baby Phat, Iceberg, and Candie’s.

Unfortunately, misfortune hit Lil Kim in 2005. This was not her first run-in with the law. In 1996, she was charged with possession of marijuanna. But in 2005, Kim  went to jail for perjury. She lied about a friend’s connection to a shooting and was required to serve a year and a day sentence. She was  charged with three counts of conspiracy and one count of perjury. About a year later in 2006, there was a 6-part BET documentary that documented Kim’s 14 last free days. Lil Kim: Countdown to Lockdown. In 2008, she released her 4th studio album, Naked Truth. Shortly after, she left Atlantic Records. Though she left Atlantic Records, she still continued to appear on other artists tracks, did films and television shows, released mixtapes, and toured through the US, Canada, and Europe.

In 2012, she was awarded the keys to the city of West Hollywood. A few years later in 2014, she gave birth to her one and only child: Royal Reign Jones Neil with Jeremy Neil (Mr. Papers). In 2019 released 9, which was end up being her last studio album. Finally, in 2020, Lil Kim released her memoir Queen Bee.

Contribution & Impact on Hip-Hop

“Kim brought a raw sexual energy to the genre and became the model for a generation of femlae rappers caught in a battle between owning their sexuality and exploiting it”(Hope, 2021). Lil Kim opened the door for women to explore their sexuality beyond the scope of “pleasing” men. Most of her discography focuses on men pleasing and spoiling her, which in the 90’s was not precedent for female rappers. Other female rappers rapped about unity and the battles of gender disparities. The juxtaposition between Lil Kim and the other female rappers in the late 1990’s was uncanny, and that is what set Lil Kim apart from the crowd. She had the image to match her raunchy lyrics too. She became an image of sexual fearlessness as a fashion trendsetter. Examples being her in the back seat of a limo, completely naked except for black boot and a safari hat, and when she wore a sheer blue and pink negligee with high heeled sandals. 

Aside from sexually liberating women around the world, Lil Kim is a strong supporter of the LGBTQ+ community, and often shares her celebrity status to a number of philanthropic organizations including; MAC (Make-up Art Cosmetics), AIDS Fund, United Way’s Sept 11th Fund, Humane Society of New York, and Rock The Vote campaign. 


Studio Albums: 

Hard Core: November 12th, 1996

The Notorious K.I.M.: June 27th, 2000

La Bella Mafia: March 4th, 2003

The Naked Truth: September 27, 2005

9: October 11th, 2019

Singles (As Lead Singer): 
No Time feat Puff Daddy: 1996
Crush On You feat The Notorious B.I.G and Lil Cease: 1997
Not Tonight feat Da Brat, Left Eye, Missy Elliot, and Angie Martinez: 1997
Call Me with Too Short: 1997
No Matter What They Say: 2000
How Many Licks feat Sisqo: 2000
Lady Marmalade with Christina Aguilera, Mya, and Pink: 2001
In The Air Tonite feat Phil Collins: 2001
The Jump Off feat Mr. Cheeks: 2003
Magic Stick feat 50 Cent: 2003
Thug Luv feat Twista: 2003
Lighters Up: 2005
Whoa: 2006
Download feat T-Pain and Charlie Wilson: 2009
Nasty One: 2018
Go Awf: 2019
Found You feat City Girls and O.T. Genasis: 2019



Ms. G.O.A.T: June 3rd, 2008

Black Friday: February 14th, 2011

Hard Core 2K14: September 11th, 2014

Lil Kim Season: March 28th, 2016


BET Hip-Hop Awards- I Am Hip-Hop: 2019


Billboard- Director Of The Year: Lady Marmalade with Christina Aguilera, Mya, and Pink (2002)


Grammy- Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals: Lady Marmalade with Christina Aguilera, Mya, and Pink (2002)


MTV Video Music Awards- Viewers Choice: All About The Benjamins (remix) with Puff Daddy, The LOX, and The Notorious B.I.G (1998)


Video of the Year: Lady Marmalade with Christina Aguilera, Mya, and Pink (2001)


Power Of Influence Awards- Honoree (2018)


Teen Choice Awards- Choice Song of the Summer: Lady Marmalade with Christina Aguilera, Mya, and Pink (2001)


VH1 awards- My VH1 Favorite Video: Lady Marmalade with Christina Aguilera, Mya, and Pink (2001) 


My VH1 Music Award for “Is It Hot In Here or Is It Just My Video?”: Lady Marmalade with Christina Aguilera, Mya, and Pink (2001) 


There’s No “I” in Team: What’s Going On (2001) 


Shakespeare in Da Hiz-Zouse: (2002)


VH1 Hip-Hop Honors: Honoree (2016)


1. Zook, Kristal. “The Mask of Lil’ Kim.” Washington Post, 2000,

2. Nielsen, Euella. “Lil’ Kim/Kimberly Jones (1974- ) &Bull;” Lil’ Kim/Kimberly Jones (1974- ) &Bull;, 17 May 2021,

3. Editors, Biography. com. “Lil’ Kim.” Biography, 1 Sept. 2017,

4. “Lil Kim Biography — Hip Hop Scriptures.” Lil Kim Biography — Hip Hop Scriptures, Accessed 4 Dec. 2022.

5. “Lil’ Kim Biography, Songs, and Albums | AllMusic.” AllMusic, Accessed 4 Dec. 2022.

6. “Who Is Lil’ Kim? Everything You Need to Know.” Lil’ Kim Biography – Facts, Childhood, Family Life & Achievements, Accessed 4 Dec. 2022.

7. Hope, Clover. “The Meaning of Lil’ Kim.” Pitchfork, 25 Jan. 2021, 

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