A controversial reality show charting the countdown to the start of LIL' KIM's prison sentence has been defended by TV executives as a "serious look at her life".

The Lady Marmalade hitmaker, real name KIMBERLY JONES, was sentenced last year (05) to one year and one day in federal prison for lying to a federal grand jury about her knowledge of a 2001 New York City shootout.

She is due to begin her sentence on 19 September (06).

LIL' KIM: THE COUNTDOWN TO LOCKDOWN will follow the rapper's final days of freedom before she is incarcerated, but has been widely blasted for glorifying her crime.

But executives at Black Entertainment Television insist the show is merely an opportunity for the musician to reveal her true self rather than a tacit approval of her crime.

Network entertainment boss Reginald Hudlin tells the New York Daily News, "It's a very serious look at her life and her choices, and the consequences of those choices."

Executive producer Tracey Edmonds adds, "You'll get to meet Kimberly Jones as a person, and not just as a public icon.

"She's a very family-minded person. She has a lot of integrity, and a lot of reasons why she made a false statement."

The show will be aired in the US from 9 March (06).