Pioneer hip-hop artist Lil Kim may be known as Queen Bee, but it hasn’t been that easy for her to hold onto her crown when it comes to being one of the wealthier rap artists around. Today, she has a net worth of $500,000, a paltry amount when you compare her to such artists as Queen Latifah (who has a net worth of $70 million ), Nicki Minaj ($100 million) and Cardi B ($40 million).
The rapper, born and bred in New York, came on the scene as a founding member of the rap group Junior M.A.F.I.A., which was formed by Notorious B.I.G. Lil Kim (born Kimberly Denise Jones). She went on to become a successful solo artist in the late 1990s.
Many might expect a higher net worth for Kim, but she’s been faced with a number of financial obstacles over the years.
In January 2018, she filed for personal bankruptcy, reporting $2.57 million worth of assets and $4.08 million worth of liabilities.
Up at stake was her massive 6,000-square-foot $2.3 million mansion in a gated community in Alpine, New Jersey. The property was in danger of going into foreclosure.
Kim reportedly owed $667,000 in late mortgage payments on top of $1.5 million in back taxes from 2004-2017 to the federal government. She also owed $376,346.74 to New Jersey for state taxes from 2004-2017, and $186,000 in unpaid legal bills.
Among her assets were a 2005 Bentley worth $50,000, a 2000 Mercedes worth $4,200, jewelry worth $25,000, $25,000 in furniture, $5,000 in electronics, $5,000 in clothing and her three entertainment companies that were worth more than $150,000. The court documents revealed that Kim earned $823,000 in 2016, and $398,000 in 2017.
While her average monthly earnings were about $18,000, she reportedly spent $10,000 on travel each month, $6,600 on her mortgage, $2,200 monthly on wardrobe and $2,300 on her staff. The court filings also showed that one of her businesses, Queen Bee Entertainment, spent over $3,000 on Lyft rides monthly.
But not much later, after filing bankruptcy papers, she informed the court that she had her finances in order. A New Jersey federal judge granted Lil Kim’s motion to end her case. Her bankruptcy case was officially dismissed.
She said she filed for bankruptcy in an effort to save her home from foreclosure. In the dismissal filing, she said, “I remain committed to saving my home and reorganizing my debts.”
The bankruptcy noted that Lil Kim had to borrow $25,000 from friend and fellow artist Missy Elliot.
Lil Kim and the rest of Junior Mafia saw immediate success when they first hit the scene. Their debut album, “Conspiracy,” generated two top-20 singles in the U.S. and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.
Lil’ Kim’s debut studio album, “Hard Core,” her 1996 release after heading out on her own, sold more than 6 million copies worldwide to date — the highest debut in the U.S. for a female rap album at the time. It produced three successful singles: “No Time,” “Not Tonight (Ladies Night),” and “Crush on You.” Her albums to follow, “The Notorious K.I.M.” (2000) and “La Bella Mafia” (2003), like “Hard Core” were certified platinum. When she teamed up with Mýa, Pink and Christina Aguilera in 2001 for the single “Lady Marmalade” (a remake of LaBelle’s 1974 single), she reached number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.
In all, Lil Kim has sold more than 15 million albums and 30 million singles worldwide. In 2012, Lil’ Kim was ranked No. 45 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Women. And she has won two Billboard Music Awards, a Grammy, three MTV VMAs and two Soul Train Awards.
Lil Kim Does Time
In 2005, she was sentenced to a one-year prison sentence for lying to a jury about her friends’ involvement in a shooting four years earlier. But she didn’t let her prison time interrupt her career too much; her fourth album, “The Naked Truth,” was released while she was incarcerated. And, in 2006, a reality series covering her sentence, “Lil’ Kim: Countdown to Lockdown,” premiered on BET.
Lil Kim made her public comeback in 2009, with an appearance on “Dancing with the Stars.” Since then, she’s continued to release music, perform and record. Her fifth studio album, “9,” dropped in 2019, followed by “The Notorious K.I.M.” (2000) and “La Bella Mafia” (2003).