Kimberly Denise Jones (born July 11, 1975), better known by her stage name Lil' Kim, is a Grammy Award winning, American multi-platinum rapper and singer. Her 2005 album, The Naked Truth, was awarded the 5 mics award from The Source magazine, making it the first album by any female rapper to achieve that rating. She is the first female rapper to have a #1 Billboard Hot 100 hit. In addition, she is also one of three female rappers to have a #1 Billboard Hot 100 hit which was 2001's Lady Marmalade, with Christina Aguilera, Pink, & Mýa.
At the age of 9, her parents separated, leaving her and her older brother Christopher at home with her father. While struggling through her personal life, Kim met Christopher "Notorious B.I.G." Wallace, 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.
In 1994, Wallace was instrumental in introducing and promoting the Brooklyn based group Junior M.A.F.I.A., which included Jones (aka "Big Momma" or "The Lieutenant"). The group's first and only album was titled Conspiracy. The group released their first single, "Playas Anthem", which went on to top the rap charts. The album's second single, "I Need You Tonight" (featuring Aaliyah), was the only single released from the album that did not feature The Notorious B.I.G. The music video, directed by David Paolini, featured the members and Aaliyah holding a house party at Kim's house while she was away. The single reached #12 on the US Hot Rap Singles chart. The album's third single, "Get Money", was certified gold and made the top 20 on the Hot 100.
After a year with Junior M.A.F.I.A., Jones began a solo career by recording her debut album. Hard Core was released on November 12, 1996. The album debuted at #11 on the Billboard 200 and #2 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Rap albums chart. The studio effort was certified Double Platinum later on. The album's lead single "No Time", a duet with Puff Daddy, reached the #1 spot for nine weeks on the Rap Charts and was certified platinum by the RIAA. The album later produced the single "Crush on You". 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 released as part of the soundtrack to the Martin Lawrence movie "Nothing To Lose" and went to #6 on the Billboard Hot 100, and also earned Lil' Kim her first Grammy Award nomination. Not Tonight was certified platinum by the RIAA. In March 1997, her mentor and secret lover Notorious B.I.G. was shot and killed in Los Angeles. The death took a toll on Kim: she took a brief break from her career.
From 1998 to 2000, Kim continued her road to stardom under the management of BIG'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. In 1999, she performed P. Diddy's "No Way Out" tour. In the same year, she launched her own label Queen Bee Entertainment and even though she hadn't 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 surprisingly reached #4 on the Billboard 200, and #1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart selling 160,000 copies in its opening week. It was certified platinum by the RIAA.
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.
In 2003, Lil' 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.
On March 4, 2003, Kim released her third critically acclaimed album, La Bella Mafia. Highly rated (4.5 mics) by music magazine The Source, La Bella Mafia spawned the hit "The Jump Off" featuring Mr. Cheeks, which climbed to number 16 on the Billboard Hot 100. The single "Magic Stick", feat. 50 Cent, hit #2 on the Hot 100 without a video ever being shot.
La Bella Mafia debuted at #5 on the Billboard 200. Kim was nominated for five Source Awards and won two ("Female Hip-Hop Artist of the Year", and "Female Single of the Year"). This album also got two Grammy Award nominations: 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.
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. Kim requested to have orange hair, blue colored contacts and a navel ring. Her fighting style is martial art and her finishing move is the "Queen Bee Sting".
On March 17, 2005, Kim was found guilty of conspiracy and perjury for lying to a grand jury about her friends' involvement in a 2001 shooting outside the Hot 97 studios in Manhattan. She claimed not to have known that her manager (Damion "D-Roc" Butler) and another friend (Suif Jackson) were at the scene, despite video footage showing all three exiting the building. Both men have pleaded guilty to gun charges since. In July 2005, she was sentenced to a one-year-and-a-day in the Philadelphia Detention Center. She had requested to go to a camp center in Connecticut to be closer to her mother, but instead was ordered to report to the Philadelphia Detention Center. Her lawyer stated that, "A year and a day is actually less than a year sentence, because according to federal sentencing guidelines, if there's an extra day, time is credited to you". A parole bill was filed that reduced her sentence. Throughout her entire jail sentence, Kim's representatives declared that she was busy working; she wrote over 200 songs while in prison.
Despite her conviction, Kim released a fourth album, The Naked Truth, during her sentence on September 27, 2005. It earned her a 5 mic rating from The Source, making her the only female rapper to ever accomplish this feat (two 5 mic ratings). The album debuted at #6 on the Billboard 200 charts, giving Kim her Third Top 10 debut on the charts. The Naked Truth didn't sell as well as her previous works, selling less than 400,000 copies. Kim has said that her jail 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 #76 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. On March 9, BET premiered the show Lil Kim: Countdown to Lockdown, which was filmed before Kim headed to jail. 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 is available free from the Deborah Harry Home Page.
On June 6, 2006, Lil' Kim The Dance Remixes was released.
She is currently planning to create her own autobiographical film and working her 5th studio album, which is expected to be released in the coming months.
Lil' Kim is appearing on the eighth season of the reality show Dancing with the Stars, which began airing on March 9, 2009. She is paired with professional dancer Derek Hough.