Lil' Kim, who has been found guilty of lying under oath about a New York gunfight, emerged from the city's hip-hop scene in 1995 as a member of Junior MAFIA.
The star's career started more than 10 years ago
The group, which was formed by Christopher Wallace, or Notorious BIG, earned success with their debut album Conspiracy.
But since the release of her platinum solo debut Hard Core in 1996, the star has recieved attention for her outrageous clothes, extravagant jewellery and explicit rap lyrics.
The 29-year-old musician, who was born Kimberley Denise Jones in New York, showed a flair for performing from a very early age.
At the age of 15 Kim was thrown out of the family home by her father, leading to a spell mixing with drug dealers and living on friends' floors.
During this time she met Wallace, encouraging the man who was to become one of hip hop's biggest influences to use his talent for rapping.
She has dressed more soberly for court
Kim became a member of his group Junior MAFIA, and her vocals provided hits for two of their songs, including debut single Player's Anthem.
The group was invited on tour with soul singer Mary J Blige, who taught Kim how to assert herself in the male-dominated world of hip hop music - a theme which would become part of her later work.
In 1996, Lil'Kim made her solo debut album, which saw her inhabit the territory of sexual edginess and hardcore rap, traditionally the preserve inhabited by male artists.
The album, which was co-produced by Sean "P Diddy" Combs, gained favourable reviews, and healthy sales ensured that the gamble paid off.
It remains the most successful debut by a female hip hop artist.
One of the songs was called Queen Bitch, while she became known by her pseudonym Queen Bee, later going on to launch her own record company under the same name.
A hiatus in her recording career was caused by the death of her mentor Notorious BIG, who was shot dead in 1997 - just six months after the murder of rapper Tupac Shakur.
She said that "whoever I marry will have to know that when I get to heaven, I will be with Biggie".
At the time of the rapper's death, Kim denied that the lyrical content of hip hop records had inspired such violence, saying that they reflected real life.
"We're just telling it like it is. It may take time before we all start rapping about flowers," she said.
Christina Aguilera has collaborated musically with Lil' Kim
Kim has since made two albums, but her biggest chart success to date has been the single Lady Marmalade, a collaboration with Christina Aguilera, Pink, Missy Elliott and Mya.
The 2001 song was a worldwide hit and won a Grammy award and two MTV awards for video of the year.
Kim has since recorded another single with Aguilera, while her film credits include 1999's She's All That and Nora's Hair Salon from 2004.