Having proved herself to be the real deal with her performance on Junior M.A.F.I.A.'s 1995 album Conspiracy, as well as her own classic solo debut, Hardcore, Lil Kim instantly became rap's "it" girl and one the genre's most charismatic stars.
Although tragedy stuck in March 1997 when her mentor The Notorious B.I.G. was murdered, leaving her future as an artist in question, the Brooklyn native managed to move past the death and continue to grow into the star that many had predicted with her sophomore album, The Notorious K.I.M.
Adding another platinum plaque to her collection with The Notorious K.I.M., Lil Kim had climbed the mountain top and was regarded by many as one music's biggest stars, a sex symbol, and the hottest female rapper in the game. However, in the wake Lil Kim's ascent, hip-hop would see an influx talented female artists enter the mainstream, with a number vying for the throne that the Queen Bee had occupied for so long.
With acts like long-time rival Foxy Brown and names like Eve and Trina all making it clear that they were not content with playing second fiddle, the pressure was on for Lil Kim to deliver an album that would serve as a statement and cement her position as an all-time great.
Lil Kim returned to the scene on March 4, 2003 with her third solo album, La Bella Mafia, an album that found her addressing a number questions, particularly the elephant in the room regarding her beefs with her contemporaries. Debuting at No. 5 on the Billboard 200, La Bella Mafia was certified platinum, making Lil Kim one only three female rapper's to have three studio albums achieve that feat, a testament to her legacy as one the most decorated artists her era.
Fifteen years have passed since the album's release, and we've highlighted five the best songs from La Bella Mafia that stand the test time and remain in rotation today.