She spent much of her adolescent life on the streets, until, under the tutelage of fellow rapper The Notorious B.I.G., she began her music career in 1995 with the group Junior M.A.F.I.A., whose debut album Conspiracy generated three hit singles. In late 1996, she began her solo career with the album Hard Core, which was certified double platinum.
In 2005, Lil' Kim served a year long 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. She returned to the public spotlight in 2009 with an appearance on Dancing with the Stars, and has a fifth studio album in the works, although it has been stuck in Development Hell for some time due to legal issues.
In the media, she is well-known for her somewhat skimpy and outrageous outfits (although she has toned this down in recent years) and her sexually explicit lyrics. She once attended an awards ceremony in a dress that left her left breast completely exposed (except for a modesty-protecting pastie); when Diana Ross saw her, she went up to her and said "What do you think you look like? Have you any idea what an exhibition you are making of yourself? I mean, what do you call this?" and she juggled Miss Kim's exposed boob! She then walked away saying "Go home and get yourself dressed, young lady!" L'il Kim, usually congenitally potty-mouthed, was totally and utterly "gobsmacked"; she stood motionless, open-mouthed and silent, the whole evening; it was next morning before she could speak, and all she could say was "She jiggled my booby!"
Not to be confused with the Korean singer Lim Kim.
- Hard Core (1996)
- The Notorious K.I.M. (2000)
- La Bella Mafia (2003)
- The Naked Truth (2005)
- Ms. G.O.A.T. (2008)
- Black Friday (2011)
- Hard Core 2k14 (2014)
- The Dance Remixes (2006)
- Conspiracy (with Junior M.A.F.I.A.) (1995)
Tropes associated with Lil' Kim:
- Absentee Artist: Oddly enough, the album version of "Crush on You", is performed by Lil' Cease and The Notorious B.I.G. - Kim only featured on the single version, released as a remix.
- Inversely, the song "How Many Licks" is a duet with Sisqo of "Thong Song" fame. However, he doesn't appear in the music video, where his vocals go uncredited.
- Absolute Cleavage: Several of her outfits back in the day.
- Abusive Parents / Parental Issues: Her father was physically and psychologically abusive to her and her mother, and he kicked her out onto the streets when she was young.
- Despite that, she later forgave her father and has let him live with her since he developed Alzheimer's in 2012.
- All Women Are Prudes: Gloriously averted.
- Beautiful All Along: She is a very beautiful woman under all the makeup she sometimes wears.
- Berserk Button: Either dissing or trying to emulate The Notorious B.I.G. seems to be one for her.
- Bilingual Bonus: She briefly raps in German in her collaboration with DJ Tomekk (who has since remixed for her), "Kimnotyze". She also briefly sings in Spanish in the second verse for "Lighters Up."
- Bowdlerise: The clean version of "Shut Up Bitch" is simply titled "Shut Up", with the lyrics being changed to "shut up, chick".
- Call-Back / Continuity Nod: The video for "No Time" features Kim and Sean Combs riding up and down on escalators. This is later referenced in the lyrics for "(When Kim Say) Can You Hear Me Now?" and "Whoa".
- The video for "Whoa" ends with Kim being thrown into the back of a police truck. The song "Stomp", by Maino featuring Kim as a guest artist, starts off where the "Whoa" video ends and has Maino breaking Kim out of the truck.
- Cliffhanger: "Aunt Dot" from The Notorious K.I.M. ends without the song's story being concluded ("'cause them other two girls, that's still on the menu/is the reason why the story is to be continued..."). There was apparently going to be a sequel, but it hasn't happened yet.
- Cloudcuckoolander: To an extent in her earlier years, although not so much now. For example, when Ruby Wax interviewed her for one of her shows early in the Noughties, Kim was shown apparently attempting to contact aliens.
- Contemptible Cover: Arguably Black Friday (see it here)◊. Not only does it show Kim with a bloodied sword after apparently decapitating Nicki Minaj (a Take That! many thought went too far), but the image is a very obvious Photoshopping of an older image◊ from the La Bella Mafia era. It was apparently fan-created.
- Cool Shades: She is fond of wearing them to public events and in photo shoots, on occasion. Unfortunately, this trope had a much darker undertone early in her career - the reason she wore such huge shades to public events was to hide the black eyes inflicted on her by The Notorious B.I.G.
- Darker and Edgier: The Naked Truth is a lot angrier than her previous albums, due to her prison sentence.
- A Date with Rosie Palms: A few of her songs reference masturbation.
- Double Vision: She plays four different versions of herself in the "How Many Licks?" video, three of them being lifesized edible dolls.
- Dream Team: The live collaboration with Cyndi Lauper (in which they both performed Cyndi's hit "Time After Time"), as well as her collaboration with 50 Cent on "Magic Stick". Collaborating with Grace Jones on "Revolution" certainly deserves a mention, too.
- Also, the remix to "Not Tonight" (usually referred to as "Ladies' Night") her first big hit after Biggie's death, was a Dream Team of some of the top female rappers at the time: Kim, Left Eye from TLC, Da Brat, Missy Elliott, and Angie Martinez.
- Then there is, of course, "Lady Marmalade", in which she collaborated with P!nk, Christina Aguilera and Mya.
- Epic Rocking: "Tha Beehive" is just over 8 minutes long.
- Ethical Slut: In her appearance on Christina Aguilera's "Can't Hold Us Down".
- Even the Girls Want Her: In "Suck My Dick" she brags that she's "even got some of these straight chicks rubbin' their tits".
- Everything's Sparkly with Jewelry
- Fanservice: The video for "How Many Licks".
- Gangsta Rap: "Queen Bitch", "M.A.F.I.A. Land", "Fuck You", "Custom Made (Give it to You)", "Revolution", "Thug Luv", others.
- Glam Rap: "Doing it Way Big", "Came Back For You", among others.
- Godiva Hair: See the image above.
- Grief Song: "Hold On", a dedication to The Notorious B.I.G. and featuring close friend Mary J. Blige. It's made even more heart-wrenching because Kim sounds like she's trying not to cry while recording the song. And unlike Sean Combs' megahit "I'll Be Missing You", she actually wrote this herself.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Mary J. Blige.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Her and Biggie◊.
- Iconic Outfit: The purple catsuit she wore to the 1999 VMAs.
- The Immodest Orgasm: "How Many Licks". "Custom Made (Give it to You)" could also count.
- I Am Not Pretty: Despite her sex symbol status in the 90s and 2000s, she has stated she feels this way about herself. Some speculate that her numerous plastic surgeries to the point of being nearly unrecognizable reflect this as well."All my life men have told me I wasn't pretty enough—even the men I was dating. And I'd be like, 'Well, why are you with me, then?' It's always been men putting me down just like my dad. To this day when someone says I'm cute, I can't see it. I don't see it no matter what anybody says."
- Intentionally Awkward Title: "Suck My Dick"; "How Many Licks"; "Pissin' On 'Em"; "Pussy Callin'".
- Intercourse with You: "Dreams", "Not Tonight", "We Don't Need It", "How Many Licks", "Magic Stick", and "Kitty Box", among others.
- Love Triangle: A much-publicised one, between her, The Notorious Big and Faith Evans.
- The Mistress: See above.
- My Girl Is Not a Slut: She featured on "Can't Hold Us Down" with Christina Aguilera, a song which heavily criticises sexual double standards.
- Not to mention the fact that several people have criticised her for writing sexually explicit lyrics. She herself has pointed out that her lyrics are no more shocking than what several male rappers have put out.
- New Sound Album: Well, in a mild way. A fair few of the songs on The Notorious K.I.M. are pop/electro-influenced, alongside the more "traditional" hip-hop sound of other songs on the album.
- The '90s: Is one of the defining hip-hop artists of the decade.
- Nipple and Dimed: She was a huge fan of pasties back in the day. Her most infamous (and oft-parodied) outfi was a purple catsuit with the right breast exposed, the nipple covered with a seashell pastie, which she wore to the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards.
- Pretty in Mink: Loves to wear fur on the red carpet, her album covers, and her videos.
- Rags to Riches: Went from living on the streets as a teenager to becoming one of the biggest female rappers in history.
- Real Life Writes the Song: Several of her songs, including the incredibly honest and touching Biggie tribute, "Hold On".
- Really Gets Around: She paints herself as this several of her songs, although she has said in interviews that her in-song sex life is greatly and deliberately exaggerated from her real-life one, and also went on to say that this doesn't stop some listeners from believing that everything she raps about is true.
- Refrain from Assuming: It's "Not Tonight", not "I Don't Want Dick Tonight".
- The Rival: Foxy Brown and Nicki Minaj, and also Charli Baltimore to a lesser extent (although the latter was more a case of Unknown Rival than anything else, as Kim didn't seem to acknowledge Charli very much). As of Kim's release from prison, however, she stated that she no longer acknowledged Foxy. Foxy, on the other hand, continued to target Kim in her music.
- Sequel Album: As the title suggests, Hard Core 2k14 is a sequel mixtape to Hard Core.
- Sexy Packaging: Most of her album covers.
- Sexy Surfacing Shot: In the music video for "Nasty One" there are several shots of her crawling out of a pool.
- The Smurfette Principle: She was the only female member of Junior M.A.F.I.A.
- Something Completely Different: "This is a Warning" is entirely sung. She also sings more than usual on Hard Core 2k14.
- Stripperiffic: She was rocking sequined dental floss when Lady Gaga was learning her division tables. This has been toned down in recent years, however.
- Take That!: Her often-noted rivalry with fellow rapper and former friend Foxy Brown has led Kim to take potshots at her in a few of her songs, such as "Notorious K.I.M.", apparently in response to Foxy's bashing of her in some of her songs. In the same song, she also took a swipe at another rapper, Shyne, for essentially trying to imitate The Notorious B.I.G..
Last nigga I was with - straight fuckin' loser/Niggas think 'cause you give 'em ya heart/They can dissect it and rip it apart
- She also bashes former bandmates Junior M.A.F.I.A. a lot throughout The Naked Truth (a few of the members testified against her in court), and she also took a swipe at 50 Cent on the song "All Good" after they had a falling-out, although they have made peace with each other since then.
- Only the ongoing beef with Foxy can even compare to Kim and Nicki Minaj's vicious rivalry. Black Friday contains a lot of Nicki-bashing (including in the album cover, not to mention the title is a play on the latter's Pink Friday album), in response to a) the latter's song "Roman's Revenge" (which was claimed to be a diss record about Kim) and b) Kim's belief that Nicki is trying to emulate her style. Several of Kim's friends and fellow rappers think that the rivalry is pointless and saddening, others (including Mary J. Blige) believe the whole thing arose due to "crews" behind it, and many critics and a large portion of Kim's fanbase thought that Black Friday was taking things just a bit too far. The rivalry has gotten worse ever since.
- A much sadder example of this trope shows up in "Heavenly Father", in which Kim dedicates a few lines to an abusive ex-boyfriend.
- Take That, Critics!: "Shut Up Bitch" is an entire song about this.
- True Companions: With Junior M.A.F.I.A. - back in the day in least. Nowadays, she has this kind of relationship with Sean Combs.I dont agree with everything he does. I dont always like him. I dont necessarily think hes a really good person all the time, but the Puff that I know can be very loving, very caring, very understanding at times, and very sweet.
- Underboobs / Impossibly-Low Neckline: Taken to extremes in some of her earlier public outfits.
- Unusual Euphemism: Present in a few of her songs, notably "Magic Stick" and "Kitty Box" (in which the titles themselves are unusual euphemisms).
- We Used to Be Friends: She's developed a bit of a reputation for this. The most well-known examples are Foxy Brown and Junior M.A.F.I.A., but she also now has bad blood with Keyshia Cole after they worked together a few years previously, allegedly because Cole did a song with Kim's rival Nicki Minaj. Flip-flopped with 50 Cent - they didn't start out on the best of terms, but eventually recorded a song together, before falling out and making up again.
- Woman Scorned: "Don't Mess With Me".