Image: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Kimberly Denise Jones, a.k.a rapper Lil’ Kim, is a hugely influential and popular music artist. She’s sold millions of albums, won a vast amount of awards, and earned herself nicknames like “Queen Bee” and “Queen of Rap.” But recently, the Grammy winner and ’90s icon has been making headlines for an entirely different reason. All of a sudden, it’s all to do with the way she looks, rather than the way that she sings. And some might even say that her story is a cautionary one, or a complicated one at least.

Image: Brenda Chase/Getty Images

Before she became a star of the rap world, Kim’s life wasn’t easy. The Brooklyn native was, as a child, racially abused by her classmates, who mocked her dark skin. Then, when she was nine years old, her parents split up and she was sent to live with her father. Her relationship with him deteriorated fast and, reportedly, he mistreated her. Eventually, she left her family home, quit school, and began living on the streets.

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Image: Instagram/lilkimthequeenbee

It was at this point in her life that she met rapper Biggie Smalls, better known as The Notorious B.I.G., then a drug dealer. The two of them hooked up and embarked on rap careers together. By 1994 they had joined the group Junior M.A.F.I.A., along with future star, Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs. It was Smalls who helped Kim put together her “Lil’ Kim” image and make her famous in the rap world. But as they got closer and closer to the top, they were constantly rocked by drama.

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