New York – Rap star Lil’ Kim testified at her federal perjury trial on Thursday, telling jurors she was bullied by prosecutors when she allegedly lied to a grand jury about a 2001 shootout.
“I was a victim (of the shooting),” said Lil’ Kim, a former sidekick of the late Notorious B.I.G. “I couldn’t believe I was being badgered the way I was.”
Wearing a lacy peach dress beneath a white blazer, the 4-foot-11 Grammy winner frequently turned in the direction of jurors, flashed broad smiles and dropped names of famous artists she’s worked with. She was admonished by the judge after prosecutors complained they heard her say hello to one juror from the witness box during a lunch break.
During cross-examination, prosecutor Cathy Seibel confronted Lil’ Kim about a war of words with rapper Foxy Brown that allegedly fueled the violence. The defendant denied one taunting lyric was about Brown.
“I don’t think of her when I write my rhymes,” the star said. “It’s just entertainment.”
Lil’ Kim, 29, known for her risque wardrobe and raunchy raps, has pleaded not guilty to perjury, obstruction of justice and conspiracy charges. She faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted. Her cross-examination was to continue Friday.
Authorities say the gunfire erupted when Lil’ Kim’s entourage crossed paths with that of rival hip-hop group Capone-N-Noreaga on Feb. 25, 2001, outside rap radio station WQHT, or Hot 97, where they were both making appearances. One man was injured as more than two dozen rounds were fired.
After witnessing the shooting, Lil’ Kim allegedly lied to protect two of the shooters – her manager, Damion Butler, and a close friend, Suif “Gutta” Jackson – who since have pleaded guilty to gun charges.
In grand jury testimony in 2003, Lil’ Kim claimed Butler wasn’t there, and that she couldn’t recognize a photo of Jackson – a position she stood by on Thursday while being questioned by her lawyer, Mel Sachs.
“I don’t remember seeing Damion Butler that day,” she said.
Lil’ Kim, whose real name is Kimberly Jones, testified the shooting began without warning, and that she was whisked away in a limousine before she could grasp what happened.
“I was stunned,” she said. “I was in shock.”
The jury has heard Antoine “Banger” Spain and James “Lil’ Cease” Lloyd – Brooklyn rappers who once teamed with Lil’ Kim in the group Junior M.A.F.I.A. – testify that they saw Butler and Jackson at the radio station with her.
Lil’ Kim said that sometime after the shooting, she had a falling out with Butler, Banger and Cease because they were freeloading at her New Jersey town house. She decided to cut off all contact with Butler – the basis of a defense argument that she had no incentive to lie for him.
“I was just fed up,” she said. “They were taking advantage of me.”
The rapper also testified at length about her modest background and mercurial career that began with an impromptu audition for B.I.G. on the street in their Brooklyn neighborhood. She described traveling the world to perform and promote her career.
“Japan is one of my favorite places to go because all of the clothes fit me,” the tiny witness quipped.
One female juror burst out laughing.