Lil Kim’s identity, over the past 20 years, has evolved with time. The Brooklyn-bred rap icon was one of the first women in the genre to lace sexually explicit rhymes over melodious beats. She’s a legend. And the Queen Bee had the joy of celebrating the 20th anniversary of her Hardcore album as the WEEN Awards’ Icon, where she gave a moving speech about her career ascent.
But despite the momentous occasion, the superstar is being talked for other reasons.
In a video posted to social media, the 42-year-old says, “You know, I’m a Spanish girl trapped in a black girl’s body… But I’m all mixed up.”
Innocent? Yes, if this was someone who hadn’t altered their appearance to appear less black.
“It was like I could do nothing right,” she said in a 2000 Newsweek interview about her father who left her as a child, when he divorced her mother. “Everything about me was wrong —my hair, my clothes, just me.”
Adding, “All my life men have told me I wasn’t pretty enough —even the men I was dating. And I’d be like, ‘Well, why are you with me, then?’ It’s always been men putting me down just like my dad. To this day when someone says I’m cute, I can’t see it. I don’t see it no matter what anybody says… I have low self-esteem and I always have. Guys always cheated on me with women who were European-looking. You know, the long-hair type. Really beautiful women that left me thinking, ‘How I can I compete with that?’ Being a regular black girl wasn’t good enough… That surgery was the most pain I’ve ever been in in my life. But people made such a big deal about it. White women get them every day. It was to make me look the way I wanted to look. It’s my body.”
Fast forward 16 years later and her look is dramatically different than the chocolate-drop beauty we met in 1996. Nonetheless, Kim is unphased, addressing the controversy in an AllHipHop video.
“Why is the controversy though? I don’t understand,” she said in rebuttal. “People are stupid… At the end of the day I grew up around nothing but Latinas and Latino men in my family and in my life. I don’t give a f**k either. I’m very familiar with the culture and I’m very familiar with other cultures. Maybe that’s how I was feeling that day too. Sometimes I just identify with other cultures. Which is a good thing. My daughter is also half Latina, and I don’t think that’s by chance.”
Identity issues aside, we love Kim. And we hope she’s soaking in the weight of her influence on this special anniversary.