Kimberly Denise Jones (born July 11, 1974 or July 11, 1975), known by her stage name Lil' Kim, is an American rapper, songwriter, record producer, model, 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, Jones 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 two top 20 singles in the United States.
Lil' Kim's debut studio album, Hard Core (1996) was certified double Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and sold more than 5 million copies worldwide and spawned three consecutive No. 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 No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, making her the second female rapper to have a No. 1 on that chart after Lauryn Hill. 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 and received critical acclaim from critics including five mics rating by The Source making her the first and only female rapper to achieve it. She returned to the public eye in 2009 with an appearance on Dancing with the Stars.
Throughout her career, Jones has sold over 15 million albums and 30 million singles worldwide as a solo artist, and a further 8 million records with Junior M.A.F.I.A. She is often referred by media and critics as the "Queen of Hip-Hop", "Queen of Rap" and "Rap Goddess" due to her achievement and heavy impact in female rap industry. Her songs "No Time", "Big Momma Thang" and "Ladies Night" were listed on Complex Magazine's "The 50 Best Rap Songs By Women", at number 24, 13 and 7, respectively. Crush On You, It's All About the Benjamins and Money, Power, Respect appear on VH1's "The 100 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs". In 2012, Lil' Kim was honorably listed on VH1's "100 Greatest Women In Music" list at number 45, the second highest position for a solo female hip-hop artist. Jones has been called "the fiercese, most provocative and most infamous female rapper" by Allmusic and "one of hip-hop's greatest MCs" in the book There's a God on the Mic. Aside from music, Jones is also known for her risk-taking and luxurious approach to fashion that inspired many artists in which she has been often referred as a fashion icon and one of the most influential rappers of all time by various media and critics.