Kimberly Denise Jones (born July 11, 1974), known by her stage name Lil' Kim, is an American rapper, singer-songwriter, author, record producer and actress. She was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, living much of her adolescent life on the streets after being expelled from home. In her teens, Kim would freestyle rap, heavily influenced by actress/singer Diana Ross, and fellow female hip-hop artists like MC Lyte and The Lady of Rage. Performing a freestyle rap for The Notorious B.I.G. got her music career start in 1995 with his group Junior M.A.F.I.A., whose debut album Conspiracy generated three hit singles.
Lil' Kim's debut studio album, Hard Core (1996) was certified Double Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and spawned three consecutive #1 rap hits: "No Time", "Not Tonight (Ladies Night remix)", and "Crush on You", a record for a female rapper. Her following albums, The Notorious K.I.M. (2000) and La Bella Mafia (2003), were certified Platinum, making her the only female rapper besides Missy Elliott to have at least 3 platinum albums. She was featured on the single, "Lady Marmalade", which also had guest vocals by fellow recording artists Mýa, Pink and Christina Aguilera (a remake of the 1975 smash hit, originally recorded by LaBelle) which went to #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100, making her the first female rapper to have a #1 on that chart. In addition, the remake won two MTV Video Music Awards including Video of the Year, and a Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals at the 44th Grammy Awards in 2002. In 2005, she 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. She returned to the public eye in 2009 with an appearance on Dancing with the Stars.
Life and careerEdit
Early life and career beginningsEdit
Jones was born in the Bedford–Stuyvesant neighborhood of the New York City borough Brooklyn to parents Linwood Jones and Ruby Jones (now Ruby Jones-Mitchell). At the age of 9, her parents separated, and her father raised her until he expelled her from home when she was a teenager. Thus, she lived with her friends and even on the streets. While struggling through her personal life, Kim met The 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 Records. Originally, she attended the Sarah J. Hale High School, but then later transferred to Brooklyn College Academy, the same school where fellow rappers Nas and Foxy Brown attended.
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, who was only 19 at the time. The group's first and only album, Conspiracy, was released on August 29, 1995 and debuted at number eight on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling 69,000 copies in its first week of release. Three hit singles came from Conspiracy: "Player's Anthem" (peaked at #7 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songschart 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 RIAA certified Conspiracy gold on December 6, 1995. "Player's Anthem" and "Get Money" were certified gold and platinum respectively.
1996–2002: Hard Core and The Notorious K.I.M.Edit
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 debuted at #11 on theBillboard 200, the highest debut for a female rap album at that time, and #3 on Billboard's Top R&B Albums, selling 78,000 copies in its first week of release. Hard Core was certified double platinum by the RIAA 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, and labeling them "gangsta porno rap".In 1997, Kim promoted Hard Core by performing on P. Diddy's "No Way Out" tour.The tour continued though to 1998 and became one of the highest grossing hip-hop tours of all time, grossing an estimated $16 million.That same year, she launched her own label Queen Bee Entertainment. 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. and even though she had not 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 debuted at #4 on the Billboard 200 and #1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, selling 229,000 copies in its first week. It was certified platinum by the RIAA. It was on this LP that the well-known hip-hop feud between Kim and Foxy Brown escalated. In November, 2000, Kim embarked on the Jingle Ballers Jam Tour in support of the album.
In 2001, Lil' Kim teamed up with Christina Aguilera, Pink, and Mýa 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. Kim also performed in two international hit singles. "In the Air Tonite", a remix of the Phil Collins song "In the Air Tonight" and duet with Collins, was released as a single from the Collins tribute album Urban Renewal. The second single, "Kimnotyze", was released as the lead single of record producer DJ Tomekk's compilation album Beat Of Life, Vol 1. It was released in Switzerland, Austria and Germany only. The song was successful, becoming Kim's third consecutive Top 10 hit in Germany after her number 5 hit "Lady Marmalade".
In 2002, 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.Kim released the song buzz song "Whats The Word" in mid 2002. Despite not having an official release, it went on to peak at number 9 on the Bubbling Under R&B/Hip-Hop Singles chart. It would later be released on the Japan edition of her third studio album, La Bella Mafia, as a bonus track.
2003–08: La Bella Mafia, The Naked Truth, and Ms. G.O.A.T.Edit
On March 4, 2003, Kim released her third studio album, La Bella Mafia. It debuted at number 5 on the Billboard 200, selling 166,000 copies in its first week, giving Kim her second consecutive top 5 album. The album received generally positive reviews from critics, receiving a score of 65 on Metacritic. A buzz single, "Came Back For You", was released ahead of the album, the music video for the song featured reality television personality Victoria Gotti.The first single, "The Jump Off", featuring Mr. Cheeks, peaked at number 16 on the Billboard Hot 100. Follow up single, "Magic Stick", featuring 50 Cent, peaked at number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, staying there for three weeks. The song never had a commercial release or a music video, but was successful due to high radio airplay, peaking at number 1 on Billboards Airplay chart. A third US only single, "Thug Luv", featuring Twista, was released in the last quarter of 2003 at peaked at number 60 on Billboards Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. The album was certified platinum in the US, selling over 1.1 million copies.
Kim was nominated for five Source Awards and won two ("Female Hip-Hop Artist of the Year", and "Female Single of the Year"). The album also got two Grammy Award nominations for 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.In 2004, Kim recorded a cover of "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" which was used as the opening theme for Victoria Gotti's reality series Growing Up Gotti. The same year Kim was featured on the remix of "Naughty Girl" by Beyoncé Knowles.
Kim released a fourth album, The Naked Truth, on September 27, 2005, while serving a federal prison sentence. 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, selling 109,000 copies in its first week of release, giving Kim her Third Top 10 debut on the charts. The Naked Truth did not sell as well as her previous works, selling less than 400,000 copies. Kim has said that her prison sentence left her with no time to promote the project. There have been many rumors about a re-release of Truth but to no avail.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 #67 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.
The Dance Remixes, her first compilation album was released on June 6, 2006. The album featured remixes of songs from her albums The Naked Truth and Hard Core. A limited pressing released only in the US, it received no promotion, due to Kim being in prison at the time of release, and failed to chart. On August 31, 2006, Kim presented the award for Best Male Video at the 2006 MTV Video Music Awards, it marked her first televised appearance since being released from prison. Kim also made appearances on the show The Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search for the Next Doll andPussycat Dolls Present: Girlicious in 2007 and 2008 as a judge.
In January, 2008, Kim announced that she had parted ways with Atlantic Records, choosing to release future projects independently. Kim stated she had no hard feelings towards Atlantic but felt more comfortable in her knowledge of the music business to do it alone. Kim released her first mixtape, Ms. G.O.A.T., an acronym for "Greatest Of All Time",on June 3, 2008. It was produced by Mister Cee and DJ Whoo Kid, DJ's from New York City. Among critics, the mixtape received generally positive reviews. It has been called a representation of Lil' Kim's return to the streets. Tito Salinas of All Hip Hop says "Lil' Kim shows that her time behind bars did not rust all of her swag away" on Ms. G.O.A.T. On the other hand, Ehren Gresehover of New York Mag says that although one of the tracks "The Miseducation of Lil' Kim" is not bad, he wished that it was Lauryn Hill who was making a comeback instead.
2009–11: Black Friday and collaborationsEdit
On March 10, 2009, the song "Girls" by the Korean singer, Seven 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. On March 24, 2009, Kim released the song "Download" featuring R&B singers T-Pain and Charlie Wilson. It was written by Lil Kim and T-Pain and produced by Trackmasters. The song samples "Computer Love" by Zapp. Although it missed the Hot 100, it did chart on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, peaking at number 21.
On February 16, 2010, the Ludacris song "Hey Ho", which featured Kim and Lil Fate, was released as a promo single for his seventh studio album Battle of the Sexes. In June 2010, Kim started her 2010 Tour, her first headlining tour since 2000. It took her across the US, as well as Canada and Europe.
Kim confirmed in January, 2011 that she would be releasing her next album which is currently untitled in 2012.She is expected to make a guest appearance on a track from 50 Cent's upcoming studio album as well as Dr. Dre's 2011 album Detox. Kim released her second mixtape, titled Black Friday, on February 14, 2011. The video for the title track was released on February 16, 2011. The mixtape received mostly negative reviews from critics. It was made available for purchase via PayPal with the first 100,000 copies sold being signed by the rapper. In May, 2011, Kim performed in South Africa as part of the music festival ZarFest alongside Fat Joe, Timbaland and Ciara.On June 19, 2011, Kim performed alongside G-Unit member Shawty Lo and hinted a possible working relationship with G-Unit Records. That same month the song Kim was featured on, along with Rick Ross, titled "Anything (To Find You)", by R&B singer Monica was leaked. The song, which samples The Notorious B.I.G.'s "Who Shot Ya?", initially featured just Kim, but her second verse was removed to make room for Ross. Her vocals were then removed fully due to contractual issues with B.I.G's estate. In August 2011, Kim performed four dates in Australia as part of the WinterBeatz Festival alongside Fabolous, Mario, 50 Cent and G-Unit. During the August, 17 date in Perth, she joined 50 Cent on stage for a performance of "Magic Stick". It marked the first time the pair had performed the song together. On November 28, 2011 Kim released a buzz single called "I Am Not the One". She also announced that she would release an EP, but it was later shelved for unknown reasons.
2012–present: Touring and fifth studio albumEdit
On November 2010, Kim began recording material for her fifth studio album.
On Valentine's Day, 2012, Kim released the song "If You Love Me" produced by "Prince Saheb" of Knockout Entertainment as a gift to her fans. That same month it was announced she would make her return to the stage on BET's 'Rip the Runway.' It marked the her first televised performance in years. In March, 2012, during an interview with MTV's Sucker Free, Kim revealed that contract issues with production duo Trackmasters were the reason behind her album delay, saying "...contractually, by the courts, I could not record any music - I wasn't supposed to put any music out.” On March 23, 2012, the song "Keys To The City", a collaboration with Young Jeezy, was leaked to the internet. Kim first mentioned about the song on an interview with MTV's RapFix, saying “I have a song with another celebrity person that I know the world and my fans are gonna love... It's vintage Kim mixed with the new Kim.” During the same RapFix Kim also revealed another song, titled "I'm Ready", which she hopes to do with rapper 50 Cent, whom she did "Magic Stick" with. Kim also commented on the direction of her music, saying she was in "Kanye West mode", adding "...You do whatever you want to do ...it's all about taking chances". On when her album would be released, Kim said “I would love to put one out this year, this summer, going into next fall".
Kim kicked off her Return of the Queen Tour on May 17, 2012 to positive reviews, and during a stop in Chicago revealed her next single will be the Rockwilder produced track "Look Like Money." Kim also hinted at a much larger scale tour with Missy Elliott and Eve once her own tour finished. Kim is expected to release her fifth studio album, which is currently untitled, in 2013. In a radio interview at 99 Jamz, Kim stated that her upcoming book, "The Price of Loyalty", is on hold to coincide with the release of the album. On October, 31, 2012, Kim introduced her new artist, Tiffany Foxx, appearing on her first single, "Jay-Z". On January 25, 2013, Kim announced via Twitter that she is in the final stages of the album, saying "...I will be in the studio finishing up my new album!! I can't wait to see everyone VERY soon!!!! Muaahhhh :) !!!!!!!". On March 6, 2013, Kim returned to RapFix and revealed that Bangladesh would be executive producing her album with her, and that she had signed a deal with former Chairman and CEO of EMI Records, Charles Koppelman.
Product and endorsementsEdit
In 1998, Kim was announced as the face for the fashion brand Candie's. She became the first and only rapper to date to endorse the brand. In 2000, Kim signed a deal with fashion house Iceberg, and also with cosmetics brand MACto help endorse their VIVA GLAM line of lipsticks and lip glosses alongside singer Mary J. Blige. The MAC VIVA GLAM III campaign, which was built around a plum-brown lipstick, helped raise $4 million for the company in one year and became the most successful VIVA GLAM campaign to date. Due to the success, the two signed on for a second year. The rapper also modeled for the urban fashion line Baby Phat in August, 2000. In March, 2001, Kim, along with several other artists, featured in a commercial for Apple's Mac computers. It highlighted how users can burn custom CD's on their Mac. In 2003, Kim became the spokesperson for American clothing brand Old Navy. That same year her song "The Jump Off" was used in a commercial for AOL's dial up Internet service. In 2004 it was announced that Kim would launch a designer watch collection titled Royalty by Lil' Kim. Jeweler Jacob Arabomanufactured the watches. She also debuted her first clothing line, entitled Hollyhood. Kim also lent her voice to the video game Def Jam: Fight for NY which she was featured in. In 2005, Kim collaborated on a shoe line with high end shoe store Petite Peton. In August 2010, Kim signed a deal with Three Olives Vodka to become the face for their Purple vodka. In September of that same year Kim, along with her cousin cousin Katrise Jones, opened their first beauty salon in Charlotte, North Carolina.The salon, titled Salon Se Swa, currently has 5 locations across the United States with locations coming soon in Atlanta, GA and New York. That same month, Kim also launched her second clothing line entitled 24/7 Goddess Collection at Charlotte NC Fashion Week. In November, 2012, Kim began endorsing Cîroc vodka, revealing her own cocktail, titled "Queen Bee", and announcing herself as the "First Lady" of the brand.
Lil' Kim: Countdown to LockdownEdit
On March 9, 2006, BET premiered the show Lil' Kim: Countdown to Lockdown, which was filmed before Kim headed to prison. 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 was available for free from her official website.
Dancing with the StarsEdit
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 against Ty Murray and his partner Chelsie Hightower, putting her at fifth place from all thirteen contestants that season. Her elimination was met by many boo's from the audience, as she was a consistent high-scorer and a fan favorite. During the third week of the season, judge Len Goodman said that she "must have a bionic booty," a nickname that resulted from her performance of the selected dance that evening (the Samba).