Lil Kim is widely regarded as one of the greatest female rappers of all time, but her legacy is a source of controversy and debate for many rap fans. After bursting onto the scene in the mid-’90s with Junior M.A.F.I.A., Kim became a solo star on the strength of raunchy raps and a ghetto fabulous image. Her brazen sexuality and fashion sense made her household name, but following the 1997 murder of her mentor, The Notorious B.I.G., Kim’s music and image seemed to garner less respect in hip-hop circles.
The 2000s brought diminishing record sales, jail time and numerous plastic surgeries. Kim engaged in a highly publicized beef with Young Money starlet Nicki Minaj and her music seemed to become an afterthought. She hasn’t released a studio album since 2005.
But in a recent interview with XXL, Kim says she’s not worried about her legacy or her critics any longer.
“I can’t really say because I don’t really care what people think no more. It’s hard. The one thing that made me so great before is I just did what the f— I do. I didn’t care how I did it. I did it for my fans at the same time, but I also did it for me. That’s what my fans love because I did me. I told them the story about me and my life. I made sexual music that was fun and just people loved to sing to. I don’t really care no more. It’s whatever now.
“I don’t give a f—. It’s whatever. At this point, it is what it is. The streets made me. They stay at me. There’s nothing that’s gonna take away from my legacy. I’m sorry. It is what it is. I’m dying this way. With the crown on my head, nobody can take nothing away from me. It is what it is. I am who I am. Bottom line.”
Photo by DeWayne Rogers