Lil’ Mama: Show Me What You Got

The “lip gloss” be popping for 16-year-old MC Lil’ Mama. What you know about her? The young, native Brooklynite is making waves on radios with her single, “Lip Gloss.” Raised in a musical household, the singer and dancer, who made it with raps, was groomed to be a star starting out on her father’s independent […]

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The “lip gloss” be popping for 16-year-old MC Lil’ Mama. What you know about her? The young, native Brooklynite is making waves on radios with her single, “Lip Gloss.” Raised in a musical household, the singer and dancer, who made it with raps, was groomed to be a star starting out on her father’s independent label, Familiar Faces. Now signed to Jive Records, the talented youth is ready to release her debut, Voice of the Young People, this spring. The album features production by elite beat-smiths Green Lantern, Scott Storch and Swizz Beatz.

Nervous about one of her first interviews, Lil’ Mama sits down with at Jive offices to talk about her upcoming project, the decline of women rappers and why there is a lack of women representation in Hip-Hop today. Show us what you got, Lil’ Mama. Being fairly new to the people out there, you have two talents, which are singing and rapping. How were you able to develop those skills?

Lil’ Mama: My mother has always been a singer, and my father was doing the rap part of it, so both of them just came together. My mother is a singer by heart, so I just got that naturally. I used to sing, writing the hooks around it, trying to work with both sides, leaving nothing out. I remember her trying to get herself out there by doing shows, opening nights and sets. Also my father had the independent label, Familiar Faces, which I am a part of now. They really didn’t try to encourage me, but I learned everything through them. Will we be getting a little taste of both singing and rapping on the album?

Lil’ Mama: Yes, definitely. There is no preference. I am thinking about writing about two [ballads]. I don’t really don’t want to launch with straight singing. Not saying that I can’t do it, but I just want to make sure my lyrics are a part of it. Your song “Lil Gloss,” is making waves around stations and getting plenty of attention. How did that song come about?

Lil’ Mama: The record started when I was recording the first half of my album independently, before Jive came along. I was in Atlanta with producer James Groove, who produced a couple of things for The Roots. He was playing with the drum pads and he came up with a pattern I really liked. So I told him to keep on going, then I went with this quote I kept saying to my manager that day that went, “What you know about me.” Then I surrounded it with, “my lip gloss is popping.” The song just came out with a natural flow. So you were in the process of putting together a mixtape, before you got with Jive?

Lil Mama: Yeah, I had already put together a mixtape before then. The mixtape was self-titled, with Familiar Faces, V.Y.P (Voice of the Young People) tagged up on there. Basically, the mixtape was already recorded before hand. I hooked up with Jive when they heard “Lip Gloss” on the radio. That was when I was in the office with Dave Lighty, who is my A&R. We played him some of my other records like, “Put It Down,” also produced by James Groove. Then, we just continued recording the album and my father told Jive that we were going to do the mixtape, while y’all push the single. Who are some female emcess that have influenced you through the years?

Lil’ Mama: Lauryn Hill, Monica and Missy Elliott. Your song is getting plenty of attention. Were you prepared for the early success?

Lil’ Mama: I was prepared. The Familiar Faces [label] built me well. My father’s company raised me. Familiar Faces is an independent record label that my family started. I had all these people who rap, and they’re not garbage, they go hard. They were thick in the ring with the older people, where you got to make sure your game is up par. So they basically built me for this. So it’s not really nothing new, besides the interviews. [Laughs] How would you say your album is shaping up to be?

Lil’ Mama: V.Y.P., Voice of the Young People. A lot of people may ask me, “What do you mean Voice of the Young People?” I am the voice describing what we [young people] go through. It’s about what we care about besides some of the stuff that they are doing now in Hip-Hop, which is basically all street. It’s about what we cry about at night. What makes a feel a way inside, when we’re hurt. When we party how we feel. It’s not just about giving you songs about being in the streets and feeling worthless. It’s about the different roles – success, failure, and party. It’s a whole lot of different things. Who are some producers you have working on the album?

Lil’ Mama: So far I have worked with James Groove, Swizz Beatz, Green Lantern, Scott Storch and I might be working with some more underground producers soon. I want to work with Missy and Lauryn. I want to get in with a lot of people, who are really Hip-Hop. I really want to sit down with people in my age group – like my label mate Chris Brown. People who just have that magic touch. Right now, there is a lack of females being represented in Hip-Hop. Why do you think this is?

Lil’ Mama: You have a lot of females, who can’t find the right market for themselves. You have a lot of females who want the same market, as ones who have already been there – who have succeeded or failed. You also have a lot of females who are not given a shot and are not believed in. Even if you believe in yourself, if those people who can get you where you need to go, can’t believe in you, then what? I had people say, “We can’t market her. Look at Lil’ Kim, she had Biggie. Look at this one, she had him. You need a man to bring her out.” What do you say about some of the older people in Hip-Hop saying that your generation is growing too fast because of the provocative nature of the music?

Lil’ Mama: I wouldn’t say we are growing up too fast. I would say that we have the wrong people raising us. Like, I always say, “not only your mother and father raise you,” because you’re in the streets more than you’re home. Most kids my age are away from their family when they are home, because they are in their room to themselves playing their games or talking on their phones. When they go outside the streets are raising them. I mean, look at our influences. Basically, when you come home, you look at the music videos. They are teaching us to make it rain and teaching the girls how to shake their moneymaker. How else are we supposed to grow up if we don’t have influences around us telling us to do right? We have a lot of people contradicting themselves. They will get on a commercial, tell us to do the right thing and then, make a video or song taking it a whole other route.