On this day in 1996, Kimberly Jones aka Lil Kim defied all rap rules and released her first album, Hard Core, on the Atlantic/Big Beat/Undeas imprint.

Following up on the heels of Junior Mafia’s Conspiracy Theory album, the First Lady of Brooklyn’s JM family set out to recreate the image of female emcees and establish the sexy on the mic with not just her seductive and sometimes outlandish outfits, but also no-holds-barred lyrics. Kim broke new ground with Hard Core, a Hip=Hop version of Millie Jackson, with no filter in her description of her sexual exploits, which was only celebrated from a male POV until her coming.

Some of the stand out tracks from this album include the timeless “No Time” featuring Puff Daddy in the both and behind the boards alongside a then budding Stevie J. No one can forget the Stretch Armstrong-powered “Big Momma Thang” with Jigga and Lil’ Cease and of course, the hood love anthem “Crush On You” featuring Cease A Leo and Frank White himself.

Even commercially, this album can be placed in the ranks of the likes of Straight Outta Compton, and even B.I.G.’s debut, Ready To Die, with its success based off of the project’s merit instead of radio spins. Hard Core is certified double platinum by the RIAA and has sold over 5 million copies worldwide to date.

Salute to Lil Kim the Queen B for giving Hip Hop such a timeless piece of history!