Queen Bee! Kimberly Denise Jones a.k.a. Lil Kim has evolved not only as a musician but as an international fashion icon since her rap album debuted in 1996. The “Lady Marmalade” songstress released Hard Core and has become one of the most legendary female rappers ever to enter the studio.
The Brooklyn native was mentored by Christopher Wallace, best known as the late rapper Notorious B.I.G., and has become a prototype for those who have followed in her footsteps when it comes to her provocative outfits and shameless self-expression.
“After I came out with Hard Core, I had to ask, ‘What am I doing that everyone likes so much?’ It took me almost three years to realize the answer: I was just being myself,” the You Got Served actress told Interview Magazine in November 1999. “Now, there are so many women out there who are doing what I did. But I’m Lil Kim. I’m the one who started all this.”
Apart from paving the way for women in the music world, Kim pushed boundaries in the fashion world. Scoring an invite to the prestigious Met Gala over the years, the New York native also became the muse for various fashion houses, including highly renowned designer Donatella Versace.
“Donatella is my girl. We’ve loved each other from the moment we first saw each other,” Kim explained of her relationship with the Italian creator to Vogue in May 2020. “She loved the fact that I have fun in her clothes. Versace was one of my favorite designers. She knew that and would always create things tailor-made just for me.”
While Kim is a legend, she’s had her major critics over the years. The “Player’s Anthem” rapper made her debut in the industry at a young 20 years old, and she’s received harsh judgment throughout her career for her image, including skin bleaching claims and plastic surgery accusations.
“When I first got into this industry, I received a lot of hate. I still receive a lot of hate … I’m a sensitive person. I’m a cancer,” the “Crush on You” rapper explained while being honored at the Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network Awards in 2016. “But every time I talk to God, he says, ‘Let them keep hating.’ So, I just say, ‘Yeah, OK. I got God on my side. What y’all gonna do with me now?’”
Keep scrolling to see Lil Kim’s transformation over the years.