She’s 4-foot-11, but Lil’ Kim has always been larger than life. And since breaking out from Brooklyn in the mid-’90s to become a female rap boss, she has grown into icon status in hip-hop.

“Oh my goodness, I love the word icon,” Kim tells The Post just a few days after receiving the I Am Hip Hop Award for career achievement at the BET Hip Hop Awards. “I love it. I embrace it. I’m happy to own it. I like inspiring other women. I love it — ’cause other women have inspired me.”

But she’s not interested in simply being a nostalgia act who rests on her leopard-print laurels. So — 14 years after her last studio album, 2005’s “The Naked Truth” — Queen Bee comes stinging back with “9,” out Friday.

“I had no idea it would take this long, but it did,” says Kim, 44, of what is surprisingly only her fifth proper LP in a 24-year recording career. “I’ve had so many ups and down and bumps and bruises, some things I couldn’t get around … It’s all about timing. I’m very spiritual, so I feel like God does everything in timing. And this was God’s timing.”

The new album — which, natch, has nine tracks — is only Part 1 of Lil’ Kim’s latest musical jumpoff, with Part 2 due early next year. “I have so many songs,” she says. “I probably recorded anywhere between 30 and 40 [tracks].”

“Pray for Me,” featuring Rick Ross and Musiq Soulchild, kicks off “9” on an unusually soulful, spiritual note. “It was almost like, ‘Pray for me, ’cause I’m ’bout to go in and really get this money now,’ ” says the rapper born Kimberly Jones, sounding as boastfully badass as ever.

On tracks such as “Pray for Me,” the Grammy-winning MC breaks out her singing pipes. “I love singing; it helps me release my emotions,” she says. But, she adds with a laugh, “I ain’t no Whitney Houston! At the end of the day, I feel like I am a ‘conviction singer.’ I sing with conviction.”

The reflective “You Are Not Alone” nods to Michael Jackson and his 1995 hit of the same name. “I love him — he is my favorite artist in the whole world. I haven’t seen any of that documentary,” she says, referring to the “Leaving Neverland” allegations that Jackson sexually abused young boys. “I just don’t believe … People lie a lot, people say things. I don’t know.”

Lil' Kim makes quite the entrance at the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards.
Lil’ Kim makes quite the entrance at the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards.Getty Images

Meanwhile, “Catch My Wave” finds Kim spitting some of the sexually explicit lyrics that made her famous. Of her erotic expression, she says, “It’s a blessing when women say, ‘You’ve liberated us and you gave us a voice.’ I love being sexual, I love being sexy … When I came out, it was like, ‘Did she say that?’ ‘Yeah, I said it.’ But it’s nothing [shocking] now.”

Unlike previous female rappers, she also embraced her sexuality and femininity in a risqué, risk-taking style that has influenced everyone from Rihanna to that other Kim: Kardashian. “I’ve always been into fashion,” Kim says. “I just wanted to be like, ‘Look, I’ma be myself. I’ma come out and I’ma wear whatever I feel.’ I didn’t know that it would be so iconic.”

No doubt, she has also inspired Cardi B, the hot female MC of the moment. “That’s my girl — love her,” she says of her fellow New Yorker. “That’s my baby. She’s killing it. I’m so happy for her.”

But Kim’s dream collaboration would be with another fierce diva: Beyoncé. “I would pass out!” she says. “If I saw me and Beyoncé in a video together, I wouldn’t be able to take it. You would have to resuscitate me with a freakin’ oxygen mask. It would be beyond epic.”

And what does the original Queen Bee think of Beyoncé being crowned Queen B? “Let me tell you something: That woman is a queen. She is a queen of what she does. So she is the Queen B. And I am the Queen Bee. And real queens recognize other real queens.”