Since then, the Brooklyn native -- legally known as Kimberly Denise Jones – has been to hell and back with endless drama, including the brutal murder of her lover and mentor The Notorious B.I.G. Her travails include a high-profile prison bid, lawsuits, record company drama, TV stints and numerous rap beefs.
We caught up with the Grammy Award-winning rap diva, who said she had a lot to get off her chest. Below are excerpts of the conversation.
BV: What have you been up to?
LK: "Well, right now I'm currently on my promo tour, which I'm ecstatic about. And it's been wonderful. My fans are the best in the world! I don't want to be any other celebrity right now. I love my fans. I'm looking to release a single [this month], because I got a lot of songs that I worked on. I've been in the studio with Dr. Dre. I'm going to be on his 'Detox' album. It's 'Hardcore' Lil Kim. It's one of those records that, even if it doesn't become a single, it will always be in your playlist. Dr. Dre in return is going to do some stuff for my album. I've been in the studio with Timbaland, too."
BV: You've done 'Dancing With the Stars,' which was a major move for you. This is all after your incarceration, when you picked up the pieces. How did you do it?
LK: "Well, for me it was nobody but God. I can't even take credit for that. If I didn't have him, I wouldn't even be here with all the things I went through. But he lets me know that he's real, and I'm supposed to be here because of him."
BV: So what's going on with you and Nicki Minaj?
LK: "Well, here's the situation. At the end of the day, when I came into the industry, I had to ... let me take that back. I didn't have to pay homage [to female rappers], but I did, I chose to. Because I knew that would be better for my career, but not only that, I love those girls! I did pattern myself after Salt-N-Pepa and all these other girls that were in the industry, Da Brat, and Lady of Rage. I would've look like a fool coming in saying little things and subliminal raps, because how could I ever disrespect these women who have been in the industry and paved the way for me?
"See that's the problem, why don't we just be real here and go back to a year and a half ago when she was just busting shots out of every place when she said in one of her interviews, 'Oh, you know I'm going to sit by the pool and have the females in the game who's been here for 10 years feeding me grapes, being that they don't have nothing else to do right now.' Oh yeah, bitch. I remember that! I remember that, I'm not going to forget it! Because at the end of the day, how dare you disrespect me or any other female that's been in this industry for so long. She's the same 'doggone' age as us. Stop it! You coming in the game at 30 years old, don't even freakin' go there, don't go there."
BV: We found out that Drake said that she's the best rap chick in the game-- the only rap chick in the game.
LK: "See that's another problem that I have, I'm going to briefly explain this, but here's another thing that the world doesn't know ... I have a really great relationship with the people who run her camp [Cash Money Records], Slim and Baby. My relationship is with Slim, I've been cool with him for four or five years now. This whole thing came about when she was first trying to come up and everything. I honestly didn't like it. It was so obvious that she wanted to be like me. It was so obvious that she wanted to pattern herself after me. She likes me, but she just doesn't know how to show me love. So I looked at it like, they know how to do it, cause Slim always [understood] the industry, me and him got the same thing. I got a lot of love for Slim. So his thing was, we should all do something together and that's how I saw it. I was like, 'Hey it would be great for hip-hop to see me and a female rocking together.'
"I wasn't blown away by her when she first came out and even now I'm not blown away. But I thought that she had a rhyme style that would've flowed with mine that I liked. And I said I could kind of see myself rapping with her. So I was like ok, let me make some friends here. I threw up the white flag. So I'm over here and Baby asked Slim to ask me to do a record for his album. I did the record. They put Nicki Minaj on the record, No problem. I said let's do it. Baby was like, 'Yo, this record is crazy' when I did my verse he loved it. He was like, 'I don't just like it, I love it.'
"When they put the record out, I guess the response that they got for her wasn't what they wanted because everybody was saying that I smashed the record. So [Baby] pulled the record back. They f---ing sh---ed on me!? Ok, now it's time, now it's war, because I'm tired. I'm tired of people taking advantage of me and being quiet and people don't know what's going on."
BV: What was the name of the song?
LK: "The name of the song was called 'Grinding Making Money'
BV: Did you know her beforehand?
LK: "Don't know her, don't know where she come from, don't know who she's born from, don't know her!"
BV: Well on a lighter note, what about Foxy Brown? Will you reconcile with her?
LK: "I don't even want to mention her. No, because she's just somebody that's just. ...No, I don't even want to mention her. One moment she got something bad to say about me, one moment she got something good to say. I don't like that flip flop sh--, that just means that you're still crazy! My mom always told me if you know there's a snake in the grass, and you know it's a snake that bit you before, why would you pick it back up? I'm not picking back up anymore snakes no more. Everyone that's around me now are very genuine, positive, and love me. You never know, time goes by and people show their real skin so I don't give people 100 percent anymore. I brought so many people in this game/ I rocked with so many people, showed so many people homage and love. But they don't show it back to me. It doesn't bother me, I just move on. That's why I'm always quiet about things, I just take it on the chin because I'm God's child."
BV: Now what about you and Jay-Z?
LK: "I love Jay-Z. But here's the thing, he had a conversation with me before about bringing me on Roc-A-Fella. And it didn't happen. But, hey, maybe this is the right timing. I don't always agree with everything Jay-Z does, and he doesn't always agree with everything that I do. But we've been friends since 15 years old, so I look at it like there's no escaping him. Same thing with Puffy [Diddy]. Puffy and I are brother and sister. And we're going to fight, but I can't escape from Puffy. It's almost like, I'm stuck with the boy. We're brother and sister and we both don't always do the right thing. As a matter of fact, most of the time he doesn't do the right thing. It's a love-hate thing I guess. I'm just so tired of doing so much for him and he doesn't do anything for me. It's time for me to start giving back to Kimmy."
BV: What do you want to do next?
LK: "Lil' Kim wants to do are more movies, more endorsements, more advertisements, more whatever. But whatever comes my way that's meant for me I'm going to take it. Right now, I'm also working on this movie, I can't say the name, but it's a movie that I'm working on with a really prominent person, and I love him to death. He's a really good guy in his own world. I think it's a really good movie for me."
BV: So many people are rooting for you.
LK: "To be honest with you, there was a lot of money left on the table because I had a lot of blocks throughout my life and career. And I wasn't able to finish things that I started. So I have unfinished business. So I'm coming back to get the money that I left on the table when I went to jail. The money that I left on the table when me and [Junior] M.A.F.I.A. broke up. The money that I left on the table after Biggie died, I'm coming back to get all of it. And not only that, I'm coming back to give my fans what they truly deserve, this is for them."
BV: Have you and Lil Cease reconciled?
BV: Do you want to?
LK: "I actually struggled because of that ['Notorious'] movie and how everyone was trying to push me in a hole. That Biggie movie is so far from the truth that it hurts. And I have to show people who I really am. That's one of the reason why I did 'Dancing With the Stars,' because that's a whole other side of me that people don't know. Yeah, I went to Catholic school and I love the fact that I have that background because I know how to pull up when it's time to pull up. And I know how to be a G when it's time to be a G."