Born Kimberly Jones in 1975, rapper Lil' Kim (her stage name) grew up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant borough of Brooklyn, NY. Just after her ninth birthday, her parents divorced and she fell into the custody of her father, who threw her out of the house several years later. She thus spent her teenage years in a state of virtual homelessness, living with friends and on the streets, but her life turned a promising corner when she encountered maestro rap producer Biggie Smalls. Smalls immediately sensed her ability to rap, reinvented her as Lil' Kim, and signed her to a recording contract, first as a member of Junior M.A.F.I.A., then as a solo artist. In the recording sphere, Kim distinguished herself with an unabashed sexually provocative image and some of the most explicit and graphic lyrics by any female performer in the rap genre.
In terms of cinema, it was perhaps inevitable that Lil' Kim would make her strongest impression in urban material, not unlike rap contemporaries Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube. Thus, even though she first bowed in the Freddie Prinze, Jr.-headlined teen comedy She's All That (1999), Kim fell into a niche with projects including Juwanna Mann (2002), the adult-oriented animated feature Lil' Pimp (2003), and the urban comedy Nora's Hair Salon (2004). In 2008, Kim joined Leslie Nielsen, Drake Bell, and others for the genre spoof Superhero Movie. She served a one-year prison sentence for her knowledge of a shooting.