Rapper Lil’ Kim began serving a 366-day prison sentence Monday for her conviction on charges stemming from a 2001 shootout outside a New York City radio station.
The 30-year-old entertainer, whose real name is Kimberly Jones, was whisked into the federal detention center past a throng of media, fans and passers-by at about 4:45 p.m.
Earlier, she issued a statement saying she had “unfortunately” been assigned to the concrete, high-rise Philadelphia facility instead of to a prison camp “as discussed.”
She added: “I am not certain that this constitutes fair and equal treatment.”
Her lawyer, L. Londell McMillan, said a celebrity like Lil’ Kim could be in danger in the detention center.
“Why should a female hip-hop artist have to spend time in an urban concrete jungle while other female prisoners are assigned to rural, suburban-type prison camps?” said McMillan, adding that he would seek to have his client reassigned.
Calls to the federal Bureau of Prisons and the U.S. Marshals Service were not returned Monday.
The 4-foot-11 rapper, who was convicted of lying about the gun battle to a federal grand jury and in the subsequent trial, brought about 20 to 25 people to Philadelphia with her in two RVs. Her mother, brother and lawyer were allowed to accompany her briefly into the detention center to say goodbye, McMillan said.
“She was upbeat, smiling,” he said. “She told her mom not to cry and to stay strong.”
Lil’ Kim will be assigned to a female work cadre at the coed prison, McMillan said, noting that she could be out in nine months with good behavior.
“Today begins a new saga in my life which I expect to strengthen me and allow me time for reflection,” Lil’ Kim said in her statement. “I plan to write music while in prison, read and pray regularly and will come out a stronger, more confident woman.”
The gunplay erupted outside WQHT-FM, known as Hot 97, in Manhattan when Lil’ Kim’s entourage crossed paths with a rival rap group, Capone-N-Noreaga.
Lil’ Kim’s group confronted the others about the Capone-N-Noreaga song “Bang, Bang,” which contained an insult to Lil’ Kim from rival Foxy Brown. One man was hurt in the shootout that followed.
Before the grand jury and at the trial, the rapper claimed she did not notice two of her close friends at the scene of the shootout — her manager, Damion Butler, and Suif Jackson. Both have pleaded guilty to gun charges.
Jurors at Lil’ Kim’s trial saw radio station security photos that depicted Butler opening a door for the rap star, and two witnesses who once made records with Lil’ Kim said they saw her at the station with Butler and Jackson. She was convicted of perjury and conspiracy.
Though several high-profile male rappers — including Beanie Sigel and Tupac Shakur — have done time in jail, Lil’ Kim is the first big-name female rapper to serve a prison sentence.
Lil’ Kim’s fourth album, “The Naked Truth,” is due out next week. She won a Grammy in 2001 for her part in the hit remake of “Lady Marmalade.”
At last month’s MTV Video Music Awards, MTV personality Sway delicately asked if she had anything to say to fans who “might not see you for a while.”
“You can write me letters,” Lil’ Kim said.