Lil Kim was one of the most influential female MCs of her day. Coming to prominence in the mid-1990s, Lil Kim (real name Kimberly Jones) was joined at the hip to Biggie Smalls and was the iconic first lady of Bad Boy Entertainment. The Brooklyn act’s influence resulted in some good things and some bad. However, it is impossible to deny her impact concerning female rap.
Jones got discovered by Diddy in the early-’90s and became an integral part of the music executive’s supergroup Junior M.A.F.I.A. as its only female. However, many blame Diddy and Jones, in particular, for the abundance of sexual material we see in hip-hop today. A well-known colloquial phrase within business is “sex sells”, and Diddy (real name Sean Combs) took this approach when marketing Jones and her music.
Recorded at The Hit factory, Lil Kim’s debut album Hardcore peaked at number 11 on the Billboard 200. It was eventually certified double-platinum by the RIAA. However, the project’s artwork and Jones’ music videos for the album were raunchy, to say the least. In 1997 Lil Kim made an appearance on The Rolonda Watts Show, during which she was grilled by the host and audience about her negative influence over children. However, irrespective of the little backlash she did initially receive, the Brooklyn rapper is cited as the first black female figure in popular culture to wear wigs that were not the colour of her natural hair. The video for ‘Crush On You’ featuring Lil Cease sees Jones wearing multiple different colours of hair that match her outfit and many regard her as a cultural pioneer in this respect.
Lil Kim was not the only female rapper operating during the 1990s. However, her association with Biggie Smalls made her the most prominent. Following the death of Biggie Smalls in 1997, Missy Elliot quickly entered the equation, and Jones began ever so slightly to fade. However, she is constantly questioned about the current state of female rap in her interviews, especially since she has unfortunately been involved in so many feuds. The ’90s icon once gave a revealing interview in which she unveiled her pick for the current “Queen of Rap.”
In 2019, Lil Kim had a series of interviews in the buildup to the release of her album, 9. Appearing on the YouTube series BUILD, Lil Kim was asked about which female rappers she enjoys listening to. Following this, she was asked a hypothetical question surrounding her 2001 hit ‘Lady Marmalade’ and who she would put on it today. The rapper professed, “I would leave that to Cardi B. If she wanted to do that, I would let her pick — the torch is hers! She’s got the crown! Plus, she said she wanted to do something like that, so it would be pretty cool.” You can watch the BUILD interview in the video below.