Lil’ Kim was born Kimberly Denise Jones on July 11, 1975 in Brooklyn, N.Y., to Trinidadian parents Ruby Mae Jones and Linwood Jones. Growing up, Kim had a tough childhood as she often saw her father physically abused her mom. "There was a great deal of verbal abuse," Kim recalled to the Washington Post in 2000. "And there was one time...when my mother had black eyes. My father told people she had fallen."
After they separated, Kim, along with her older brother, lived with her mother in New Rochelle, N.Y., but it was short-lived. Ruby Mae was unable to support her family and granted Linwood full custody of the two children. "I was basically living out of the trunk of my car," Kim's mother explained to the Washington Post. "And I didn't feel it was appropriate for [the children]. So I let Kim go to live with her father."
However, according to Kim, her father was verbally and physically abusive to her. On at least one occasion, Kim remembers waking up in the morning with a fist crashing into her face. Kim also remembers stabbing her father with a pair of scissors during an argument. At the age of 14, Kim had enough of the violence and left home.
At the age of 17, Kim met Christopher Wallace, a small-time drug dealer on the verge of becoming a major rap star, on a street corner in Brooklyn. She performed an impromptu rap for him and "he was sold" on her becoming a rapper. Once Wallace signed with Bad Boy Entertainment in 1992 (as the Notorious B.I.G.), he formed the hip-hop group, Junior MAFIA, which included Lil' Kim.
After the success of Junior MAFIA, Kim would venture on her own solo run starting with her 1995 solo debut album, Hardcore, further solidifying herself as one of the top female rappers in hip-hop.
At the age of 42, Kim is not worried about being recognized as one of the pioneering female artists in the rap game.
"I think, when you're great, not everyone's going to give you your props, and you can't really worry about that," she told The Guardian in 2013. "In my eyes, I'm still climbing. I'm still taking myself to the next levels in my career, and that's fine with me. When it's time for my rewards, I will get them."