Why would a hip-hop legend recruit a football player to make music?
Turns out McKinnie is a Grammy nominated producer ... having produced an R&B album back in 2009. He skipped the ceremony though ... 'cause he had to play in the NFC Championship game.
TMZ Sports spoke to Lil Kim ... who says she's known McKinnie for around 10 years and has the ultimate faith his expert ear will make her project a hit.
"I respect Bryant's energy and input. When I really started to listen to him I realized that he really knows music and gives you nothing but real talk when you ask his opinions."
McKinnie isn't exactly producing Kim's new album ... he says he's acting in more of an "A&R capacity" but the Queen Bee says he knows what's hot in music ... because he's the king of the Miami club scene.
"It's always the turn up with him when I'm in Miami, we actually met at the club and a lot of that type of energy is what I want on this new album, he knows that."
No word on when Kim's new joint is dropping ... but the two are down in Miami working right now and the first single "Mine" feat. Kevin Gates is already out.