On November 12, 1996, Lil’ Kim released her revolutionary solo debut album Hard Core. The 4’11” rapper burst into the music scene like a prolific sexual spitfire that could write rhymes that had more style and finesse than most of the top names in hip hop.
The cover of Hard Core, styled by Misa Hylton, featured Lil’ Kim in a sheer blouse worn over lingerie, straddling a bear skin with bouquets of roses and a burning fireplace behind her. This photograph embodies everything that the album represented: a powerful woman owning her sexuality, ready to pounce. With the help of Hylton, Lil’ Kim quickly became a trailblazing fashion icon with her colourful wigs and provocative playful style that included the “Crush On You” video and red carpet moments like the lilac one-shouldered VMAs catsuit.