EBONY and Mass Appeal are celebrating 50 years of hip-hop with a special commemorative print issue that features the culture's leading disruptors. In a whirlwind three-city photoshoot, we tapped rap icons 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes, Lil' Kim, Rick Ross and Swizz Beatz.

Brooklynite Kimberly Jones became a star when she stormed the world stage with her aggressive delivery, unapologetically pornographic lyrics, and overt obsession with fashion. From Diana Ross touching her pasty-covered breast on the VMAs to having her custom-made Money Manicure being the first nail art inducted into the MoMA's permanent collection, she is a fashion provocateur and icon. Kim rejected the butch behaviors of the femcee elders, made Donatella Versace and Karl Lagerfeld fans, became Marc Jacobs’ muse, and evolved into an enigma.

"EBONY has always been good to me. I love the fact that EBONY was able to let me and my partner Paris Chea really be in on the creative."

-Lil' Kim

On a smoldering Saturday in July, the EBONY team hit the road for a 2-hour sojourn from West Hollywood to the California desert for a history-making cover shoot that would become one for the books. The mission: to bring to life rap icon Lil' Kim's epic vision for a regal-themed cover shoot that rightfully celebrates her as the rap queen that she is.

The collaboration started months ago, with Kim's team bringing a bevy of ideas to the table regarding creative direction, styling and set design. "EBONY has always been good to me," she says. "I love the fact that EBONY was able to let me and my partner Paris Chea really be in on the creative."

The moment was long overdue as the trailblazer's influences can be seen in practically every femcee to follow. Chea supplied a range of runway and custom avant-garde looks from Gucci, Laurel DeWitt and Rey Ortiz. Kim's glam squad--makeup artist Kimora Mulan and hairstylists Hachoo and V Houston pulled out all the stops for this history-making moment.

In her EBONY cover story, the fashion provocateur and forever muse talks with writer Isoul H. Harris about the art of reinvention and the transformative power of style. Watch what happened behind the scenes of his cinematic cover shoot above and click here for the full digital cover experience.

The Hip-Hop 50 commemorative print issue is on sale from September 19, 2023 to December 19, 2023. Get your copy at magazines.com, Barnes & Noble, Walmart, Walgreens, Target, Publix, Safeway, Kroger, Books A Million, and more, plus select retailers in London and South Africa.