Hip-hop’s first lady of flows and fierce fashion, Lil’ Kim, has collaborated with Supreme. The partnership, which is a part of the clothing brand’s S/S 2022 release, consists of a short sleeve button down, a cotton tee, and a skateboard. All three sold out within minutes.
Each item features at least a portion of one of the multi-platinum emcee’s most memorable photos: the hard-core promotional poster.
The image is nothing short of notorious. In it, she’s squatting, wrists resting on her knees, eyes fixed on the camera while she’s wearing a duster from Patricia Field’s boutique, a leopard print bikini, and a pair of size 4 1/2 heeled sandals. It was an instant phenomenon and decades later, it has become an emblem of sex appeal and womanist progression.
In honor of Supreme’s homage to Queen Bee, we talked to the rap icon herself about working with the brand, the pose people still can’t get enough of, and what she wants people to think about her style. Read our conversation below.
ESSENCE: So tell me about the hard-core poster image that appears on Supreme’s newest drop. Who took that photo?
Lil’ Kim: Michael [Lavine]. Michael is such a cool guy.
I naturally dropped into that pose. I’ve always therefore different poses. I’ve always done something little like that and made it my own. Biggie saw the photo and was like, “That’s her promo picture. That’s the cover.”
He wanted to have it be the official cover of my album, but I think the record company had other plans and they felt that it might be just too out there for the cover. We knew, and Biggie knew, that would’ve been huge. I think, to this day, my record company regrets not putting it on my album as the official cover, because think about it—we probably would’ve sold double the records.
How long has this Supreme collaboration been in the works?
It started right when we were in quarantine. I was just at home in the office because everyone’s office was in their home at that time. They reached out, and I was like, “Let’s make it happen,” and we made it happen.
How does it feel to know the hard-core poster image is just as groundbreaking and revolutionary as it was over 25 years ago?
It’s overwhelming sometimes. It’s an honor. It still gives me chills that it’s an iconic photo, like a Marilyn Monroe kind of poster.
I assume the image is licensed. So what was the process of Supreme getting the OK like? Did it require any kind of involvement from the label or the photographer?
Oh yeah, they actually handle most of that stuff. Me and the photographer talked because we had a lot of things that really wanted to talk about with the picture. The funny thing is, and I’m glad I got a chance to say this is, people take my photo and they do what they want with it. There was so many Photoshopped versions of that photo. I found that out from the photographer himself because we had grabbed one online and I said, “This doesn’t look like the original photo and he was like, “Because it’s not.”
He said, “I’ve been having so many problems over the years because there’s so many different Photoshopped versions of that picture.” So we always have a little issue with that photo. It was so funny. But yeah we talked, which was great.
Then as far as the record company, I think they’re just as proud of that photo as I am. They’re always game to let it be used.
I’m glad because it’s inspired generations. So it’s cool that they’re open to sharing it.
It’s a real blessing to still have that kind of impact with the world, the fans, and everyone who’s been riding with Lil’ Kim, the brand.
What do you want people to think about when they’re reflecting on your style?
“Oh, that’s a fly ass b—h.” [laughs] But it’s true though. I want it to be like, “Damn, she is fly.”
I’m really excited about the fashion part of the next level in my career because I’ve always been a fashion girl. Then the fact that this sold out in two and a half minutes… If you saw the comments on my page, they’re like, “I was all the way at the checkout. I was at the home stretch and then boom, it sold out. I am mad, Kim. You got to do this again.”