Lil’ Kim celebrated Independence Day one day early with her release from a federal detention center Monday morning after nearly 10 months behind bars.
The rapper, who was sent to prison for lying about a shootout outside a New York radio station, walked out of the jail looking glamorous in sunglasses and an all-white, cleavage-baring outfit.
Carrying a balloon and a bouquet of white roses, she waved to dozens of cheering onlookers — some carrying signs that said, “Welcome Home, Queen Bee” — before getting into a silver Rolls-Royce. The car pulled into a nearby parking lot where she re-emerged to greet the throng.
“I love you,” she said, blowing kisses.
Some fans stayed up all night to ensure they made it downtown in time for her 6 a.m. release.
“It was worth it,” said Shakiyla Williams, 16. “She was the same Queen Bee — fabulous.”
The 4-foot-11 entertainer, whose real name is Kimberly Jones, began serving her time in the detention center Sept. 19. She was sentenced to a year and a day in prison, but was released early for good behavior.
There seemed to be no hard feelings from the rapper. In a statement released Monday, Lil’ Kim thanked the city and federal corrections officials — as well as her fans — for the support she received while incarcerated.
“Today is a joyous day for me and my family,” she said. “I am extremely grateful and happy to be home.”
She stopped Monday to visit with her parole officer in Newark, N.J., and then returned home, where she was greeted by friends, family and a catered spread including barbecue chicken, macaroni and cheese, and salmon pasta salad.
Though several high-profile rappers — including Beanie Sigel and Tupac Shakur — have done jail time, Lil’ Kim is the first prominent female artist to serve a prison sentence.
“She has accepted responsibility and handled herself in an exemplary manner,” her attorney, L. Londell McMillan, said in a statement released by Lil’ Kim’s publicist.
Lil’ Kim will remain under house arrest for 30 days at her home in Alpine, N.J., and be under supervised release for three years.
Her conviction for lying to a federal grand jury and in the subsequent trial stemmed from a gun battle in 2001 that erupted outside WQHT-FM, known as Hot 97. Lil’ Kim’s entourage had crossed paths with a rival rap group, Capone-N-Noreaga, whose song “Bang, Bang” contains an insult to her from rival Foxy Brown. One man was hurt in the shootout.
Lil’ Kim, who won a Grammy in 2001 for her part in the hit remake of “Lady Marmalade,” maintained she hadn’t noticed two of her close friends — who later pleaded guilty to gun charges — at the scene of the shootout.
Jurors at her trial saw radio station security photos of one of the two friends opening a door for her, and witnesses said they saw her at the station with both.