NEW YORK (AP) – She started as Notorious B.I.G.’s oversexed sidekick, a gangsta girl flaunting outrageous lyrics behind her cute smile.

Over the next decade, Lil’ Kim transformed from neighborhood girl into glam fashionista, trading the grimy rap scene where she got her start for the company of boldface names like Donatella Versace and Donald Trump.

On Thursday, Lil’ Kim was convicted of lying to a federal grand jury to protect friends involved in a radio station shootout – adding a likely prison term to a career that already had inspired a college course on her life story.

Lil’ Kim and her assistant were convicted of perjury and conspiracy but acquitted of obstruction of justice. Lil’ Kim, 29, faces up to 20 years in prison, five years each for three perjury counts and one conspiracy count.

B.I.G.’s former mistress, known for her revealing outfits and super-raunchy raps, testified that she didn’t notice two close friends at the scene of the 2001 gun battle – her manager, Damion Butler, and Suif “Gutta” Jackson.

Both men have since pleaded guilty to gun charges.

The jury saw radio station security photos showing Butler opening a door for Lil’ Kim.

And witnesses Antoine “Banger” Spain and James “Lil’ Cease” Lloyd, who once made hit records with Lil’ Kim in the group Junior M.A.F.I.A, testified that Butler and Jackson were at the station with her.

Lil’ Kim and her assistant shook their heads as the verdicts were delivered, and supporters broke out in sobs. While many male rappers have gone to prison, Lil’ Kim would be the first big-name female to do time.

Asked outside court whether she had any comment, Lil’ Kim, wearing a beige pants suit and a pink jacket, shook her head and said no. She later issued a statement saying she was “disappointed” in the verdict.

Sentencing was set for June 24.

The shootout occurred outside WQHT, a.k.a. HOT 97, when Lil’ Kim’s entourage crossed paths with a rival rap group, Capone-N-Noreaga. Kim’s entourage confronted them about the song “Bang, Bang,” from a Capone-N-Noreaga album, which contained a scathing insult to Lil’ Kim from her longtime rival Foxy Brown. A shootout erupted, leaving one man injured and more than two dozen rounds fired.

HOT 97 is the same station where the posses of 50 Cent and The Game traded bullets last month. No arrests have been made in that case, which left one of Game’s henchmen wounded in the leg.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Cathy Seibel told jurors that the 4-foot-11 Lil’ Kim, born Kimberly Jones, had repeatedly lied to them, just as she did to the grand jury. The prosecutor belittled the defense claim that the sunglasses-wearing Lil’ Kim didn’t notice her two close friends at the scene of the crime.

“You would have to believe they were magic sunglasses that only block out your friends who were shooting people,” Seibel told the jury.

Defense lawyer Mel Sachs argued that Lil’ Kim had no reason to protect Butler and Jackson because she had already eliminated them from her life.

Lil’ Kim testified that after the shooting she had a falling out with Butler, Banger and Cease because they were freeloading at her New Jersey town house. She said she decided to cut off Butler completely after he caused a ruckus outside a video shoot with Phil Collins.

“I was just fed up,” she said on the stand. “They were taking advantage of me.”

The rapper also testified at length about her modest background and mercurial career, which began with an impromptu performance for B.I.G. on the street in their Brooklyn neighborhood.

As B.I.G. became a superstar, Lil’ Kim became his Queen Bee. Her first album, 1996’s “Hard Core,” became a big hit, thanks to a memorable promotional poster plus songs like “Crush On You” and others with unmentionable titles and topics.

Lil’ Kim developed into one of the few female rappers with a commercially viable career. As plastic surgery slowly sculpted her into a top-heavy pinup, she took advantage of rap’s move into the mainstream. Her celebrity status was cemented when, while presenting a 1999 MTV award wearing a pasty over one exposed breast, co-presenter Diana Ross jiggled Lil’ Kim’s bare flesh.

She won a Grammy in 2001 for her part in the hit remake of “Lady Marmalade.” Now she’s probably headed to prison, adding a chapter to a remarkable life that already has produced a Syracuse University class titled “The Life and Times of Lil’ Kim.”


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