When it comes to discussing the best female rappers ever to hold it down, no conversation is complete without the mention of Kimberly Denise Jones. Lil' Kim unarguably paved the way for current female emcees from Cardi B to Megan Thee Stallion, Doja Cat, City Girls, and countless others, from her style to her lyricism. A true game-changer and the prototype for reinvention, with a quick search, you'll come across dozens of Twitter threads, Instagram posts, videos, and so much more praising the Queen Bee as the blueprint. Not to mention the viral moment from the 2021 BET Awards, where rapper Latto affirms these sentiments while giving the Brooklyn native her flowers on the red carpet. 

Aside from her continued fearlessness in owning her sexuality and individuality in a male-driven industry, the Grammy Award-winning artist is soaring to new heights in her career. Recently, Lil' Kim announced the launch of her cannabis brand, Aphrodisiac, a new memoir, The Queen Bee, and narrated the second season of the true-crime series on BET+, American Gangster: Trap Queens21Ninety caught up with the multi-platinum rapper about motherhood, how Diddy influenced the woman she is today, following her truth, and her catalog's significant effect on the power of feminism. 

Dontaira Terrell: What sparked your interest to become involved with the series American Gangster: Trap Queens?

Lil' Kim: I felt like it was a perfect fit because honestly, I feel like I am those girls, and their stories resonate with me. Although I've never done anything like this before, it was meant for me to narrate this show. I was a little nervous because these are their real-life stories, and I wanted this to really feel authentic. 

It was so dear to me because I am proud of how many of these women turned their lives around. It's hard to turn your life around when you've been in the system, but a lot of them are doing some really good things.

DT: Over the years, your music has challenged the status quo. What are three songs you're most proud of to have introduced to the world?

LK: That's a hard one because when I'm on the road, I hear the weirdest songs people say inspire them. Someone once told me, "You don't understand when I heard Big Momma Thang; it changed my life. "And I'm thinking, what part of that changed your life because the first words are, "I used to be scared of the d***...". But then I understand it's the power of feminism. Some people were afraid to even think about, let alone say, the things I say in my music, which is freeing for some women.

DT: That's so true! Now aside from a Google search or published articles, if we were to dig deep into the woman you are, who is Lil' Kim at her core? 

LK: I'm a nurturer by nature, so it was destined for me to be a mom. And I love it! I'm also a teacher without having to try, which is something that I hate and love at the same time. I sometimes hate it because people don't listen, and it seems like you're wasting your breath. 

When I was underneath Puffy [Diddy], I studied him to a T and paid attention. Puffy is not an outright teacher; he leaves that up to you, so I took those things from him and became like him in a female version. I think that's a big part of who I am. 

DT: You mentioned motherhood, and generally, when we speak about parenting, we often discuss what we want our children to learn from us. But what have you learned from your daughter?

LK: I've learned patience. She is very intuitive and touched by God. I'm going to give you a perfect example. I've been feeling down about something because I recently came off a tour and did a show in Houston. Before the Houston stop, I was killing each show, but everything that could go wrong went wrong when I got to Houston.

I caught a cold a little bit before and had an IV drip because I was dehydrated. When I was on stage, the mic fell out of my hand. I missed a few steps because I wasn't feeling well. In my opinion, I just hated that specific show. I'm a perfectionist and very critical of myself. But my baby said to me, "Mom, your show was amazing. It's not always going to go the way you want it to go, but just know that you gave it your best, and you gave it your all. What you see, people don't see. So what if you made a few mistakes. It just makes you human." And I'm thinking, how does she know all of this! I was intrigued and taken aback. 

DT: Isn't that crazy how kids can make you see things through a different lens? 

LK: Yes! She's my future leader. She's amazing, and people are constantly blown away by her.

DT: That's a reflection of you and your parenting as well, so kudos to you! 

LK: Thank you so much. I'm a hot mess sometimes, but then I look at her, and I see how smart and intelligent she is. I also see how humanized she is because she doesn't have to be humanized, especially since she's a celebrity baby. We know celebrity babies can go either way, so I'm really blessed at how she came out. 

DT: Before we leave, I want to talk about the huge shift in self-care. With you being an entrepreneur, a mom, and just a boss woman, what does that time for Lil' Kim look like? How do you take care of yourself?

LK: I feel if everyone in this world hasn't changed their diet or changed the way they view their health, then they're not getting it. I fluctuate. Sometimes I represent the skinny thick, and sometimes I'm juicy (laughs). Either way, I'm going to love it, and whoever's with me will have to love it too. 

I've changed my regimen up as far as what I eat now. I have asthma, and my daughter has asthma. My doctor introduced me to a good plant-based diet, and when I feel like our health is not at its best, we'll go a month or two just doing the plant-based diet. But, you have to balance it. With COVID being such a threatening pandemic, we have to be very careful.

DT: I want to end by saying thank you for encouraging and empowering legions of women to redefine the status quo, break barriers, tap into their creativity and own who they are as an individual. Thank you for that and this moment. 

LK: Oh, thank you for your words! As long as I'm here, I always want that for my women as they go to the next level. I feel like I am always the blueprint for the next level.

DT: And that you are, I would agree. 

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