On this day in Hip Hop history, we celebrate the birth of one of the true queens of Hip Hop, Lil Kim. Born Kimberly Denise Jones, the Queen Bee was raised in the Bedford-Stuyvesant housing project in Brooklyn, New York. It was there she met Christopher Wallace a.k.a. The Notorious B.I.G., forged a relationship with Bad Boy Records, and began her rise to become one of Hip Hop’s most influential female artists.

Kim’s career as a rapper began with her appearance on Bad Boy’s Junior Mafia debut LP, Conspiracy. Having a strong feature on all but two of the album’s tracks, this album was a breakthrough for Lil Kim’s career and lead to the explosion of her own solo career. The album toted a few chart topping singles including “Player’s Anthem” (featuring  Lil’ Cease and The Notorious B.I.G.) which peaked at #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and “Get Money (featuring The Notorious B.I.G.) which claimed the #17 spot on the Hot 100; both were certified gold singles.

The launch of Lil Kim’s career apart from Junior Mafia came in 1996 with the release of her solo album, Hard Core. With this album, Kim set herself apart from all female rappers that had come before her. Her hardcore, rugged New York style coupled with her sexually explicit lyrics created one of the most unique and celebrated flows in Hip Hop. But aside from being the newest sex symbol in music, Hard Core proved Kim was more than competent as a rapper. Hard Core was met with positive critical and commercial responses, peaking at #11 on the Billboard 200 chart and selling 2,000,000 copies in the year of its release. The album featured one of Lil Kim’s most popular singles today “Crush on You (Remix)” feat Biggie and Lil Cease.

In 2000, Lil Kim’s second studio LP The Notorious K.I.M. was released, debuting at #4 on the Billboard 200 chart. This project is Lil Kim’s most popular album, to date selling 235,000 copies in its first week. The commercial success of this album lead to it becoming the most popular female rap album in 5.1 million units worldwide. The album’s singles “No Matter What They Say” and “How Many Licks?” both made appearances on the Billboard Hot 100.

On March 4, 2003 Lil Kim released her third studio LP, La Bella Mafia which debuted at #5 on the Billboard 200 chart selling 166,000 copies in the first week alone. This project became Kim’s second consecutive top-five album. This album contained the hit singles “Came Back For You” and “Magic Stick” which peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. This album also received two Grammy Awards: Best Female Rap Solo Performance and Best Rap Collaboration.

Kim’s fourth album came at the wake of tragedy for her career, after being convicted of perjury charges and sentenced to some time in prison. Naked Truth was released on the first day of her sentence. This album received the coveted 5 Mics from The Source in 2006 and is to date the only female rap album to receive this honor. The album was certified platinum in the year of  it’s release and ranked in at #6 on the Billboard 200 chart. As of 2015 this album has sold 2.7 million albums worldwide.

Since Naked Truth, Lil Kim has yet to release an album but continues to remain in the headlines.

As an icon, Lil Kim forever changed the role of females in Hip Hop. Although many may have seen her as controversial, her music widened the plane for what can seen as acceptable in rap. Never before her was there a woman able to incorporate her street knowledge and sex appeal in a way that made men and women alike fear and want to be with her. She’s a true living icon. From everyone here at The Source, Happy Birthday Lil Kim, may you see many more years of success and influence.

For every great moment, there’s a song that goes with it.  We believe this is the SOUNDTRACK OF YOUR LIFE – SOL REPUBLIC.