Lil Kim has long been known as one of the primary pioneers for women’s representation in hip-hop. In 1996, her Hard Core upended expectations for female rappers and how they present themselves in the formerly male-dominated genre. One of the images promoting the debut album has since become an iconic and controversial part of hip-hop history. In a clip from the upcoming next episode of Uproxx’s podcast People’s Party With Talib Kweli, Kim explains how her mentor The Notorious BIG picked the photo and why it resonated so much for so long.
“That was game-changing,” Kim said of the infamous “squat” poster, in which she spread-eagled in leopard print bikini and fuzzy-fringed dressing gown. However, she says, she caught as much flak as she did praise for the then-salacious image, which has since been duplicated by imitators and admirers from Nicki Minaj to Teyana Taylor. “So many women were hating on me — I was surprised… because it wasn’t tasteless. It was classy, it was cute.”
Kim also notes the overwhelming reaction the poster was for prison populations and others, relating a story of men getting killed over the poster. She says that she never expected the reaction, saying “Biggie picked that picture and the label was like, ‘Are you sure?'” and that BIG even refused to let the label choose a backup pic, knowing “the picture was gonna be big.”