By Christopher Rosa
If your first thought is Beyoncé when you hear Queen B, we’re not mad, but before Yoncé there was the original Queen Bee—Lil’ Kim. Reminisce with us about a time when the first lady of no f*cks to give took a hammer to hip-hop’s glass ceiling and crushed the ’90s.
It seems like just yesterday Kim was making headlines for wearing pasties to major award shows and leading the “four badass chicks from the Moulin Rouge.” But that was 13 years ago. Now, at the age of 40 (happy birthday!) her life is drastically different. Kim recently gave birth to daughter Royal Reign (who just made her Twitter debut), and she’s become a fixture on the hip-hop beef circuit by feuding with other artists. However, Kim’s legacy as a rap icon can’t be touched. She earned her stripes in the ’90s as a fresh face to the game who used her natural talent, sexuality, and determination to become a record-breaking superstar. In a nutshell, Lil’ Kim ruled the ’90s.
Don’t believe us? We pulled together 10 feats that Kim accomplished in the decade of the Spice Girls and grunge rock. Credit must be given where its due: She changed the scope of hip-hop, especially for female artists.
10. She was Notorious B.I.G.’s protégé, seen — erm, explicitly — on the interlude “F–k Me” from his album Ready to Die (1994).
Lil’ Kim, a ’round-the-way Brooklyn girl, was a relative newcomer when she did this 90-second skit on B.I.G.’s debut album. Her legacy of overt sexuality began right away. Set to what sounds like a squeaking bed, you can hear Kim (literally) moan what is essentially a raunchy menu. Hmmm… hungry now?
9. She was a business maven.Kim had her eyes on global domination in the ’90s, so that meant conquering more than just music. She became the only female rapper in history to star in a campaign for Candie’s in ’98. Kim was the face of Iceberg Jeans in ’99 and also lent her talents to MAC and Old Navy. She promoted all her pursuits like a champ too. (Check out her life-giving appearance on The Ricki Lake Show in ’97.)
8. She was the only female in B.I.G.’s group Junior M.A.F.I.A.
Pint-sized Kim was able to go toe-to-toe (or rap-to-rap) with every dude in the group (including the larger-than-life Christopher Wallace). Kim’s flow was fresh, and Junior M.A.F.I.A launched her into a stratosphere of stardom only few achieve.