Kimberly Denise Jones (born July 11, 1975 or 1976), known professionally 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 fellow female hip-hop artists like MC Lyte and The Lady of Rage. In 1994, she was discovered by fellow rapper The Notorious B.I.G., who invited her to join his rap group Junior M.A.F.I.A.; their debut album as a group, Conspiracy, generated two top 20 singles in the United States and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
Lil' Kim's debut studio album, Hard Core (1996), was certified double platinum by the RIAA, has since sold more than 6 million copies worldwide, and spawned three successful singles: "No Time", "Not Tonight (Ladies Night)", and "Crush on You". Her following albums, The Notorious K.I.M. (2000) and La Bella Mafia (2003), were also certified platinum, making her the only female rapper besides Missy Elliott and Nicki Minaj to have at least three platinum-certified studio albums. In 2001, she was featured on the single "Lady Marmalade" (a remake of the 1975 hit single of the same name, originally recorded by LaBelle), alongside Mýa, Pink and Christina Aguilera, which went to number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. 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 to positive reviews from critics and received 5 star review from 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, Lil' Kim has sold more than 15 million albums and 30 million singles worldwide. Her songs "No Time", "Big Momma Thang", and "Ladies Night" were listed on Complex Magazine's list of the 50 Best Rap Songs By Women. In 2012, Lil' Kim was listed on VH1's 100 Greatest Women In Music list at number 45, the second highest position for a solo female hip-hop artist. Lil' Kim has been called "the fiercese, most provocative and most infamous female rapper" by Allmusic, and one of the top 50 greatest MCs of all time in the book There's a God on the Mic. Aside from music, Lil' Kim is also known for her risk-taking and luxurious approach to fashion that inspired many artists; she has been cited as a fashion icon. She has been called one of the most influential rappers of all time, often referred to as the "Queen of Rap" and "Hip-Hop Goddess" .