Harlem-born, Brooklyn-raised Lil Mama came on the scene in the spring of 2007 with her hit single “Lip Gloss.” But after a seemingly quiet two years, the New York femcee made headlines once again when she crashed Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ performance at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. Since then, she’s gotten a lot of flack from the critics, but the pint-sized rapper says she isn’t letting the hate stop her.
After a recent interview with New York radio station Power 105′s Breakfast Club crew, during which she addressed why Nicki Minaj is copying her and took a lot of heat about her alleged bad looks and lack of talent, Lil Mama chatted with XXL to clear the air. Keep it poppin’. —Amber McKynzie
You’ve been in the media a lot lately. What do you have going on?
Lil Mama: I just recently released a viral video called “Scrawberry.” Definitely an authentic hip-hop beat. It’s sampled from Special Ed’s “I Got It Made.” I’m about to release a few other joints that I have a few viral videos for. One is “Hustler Girl.” I’m getting a lot of great feedback about “Hustler Girl” because it’s an anthem for women like us – like me and you. We out here, we doing our thing, whether we’re doing magazines, whether we’re doing radio, whether we’re actually a hip-hop artist, or even if you’re just a doctor or lawyer. Whatever you do, you’re hustling, getting your money. The second one is “So Much Money.” [It’s] a dance track. We’ve been getting great response, so the next two records that I’m gonna release are real big.
You’re really getting back into your music. Does this mean you have an album on the way or you’re just putting tracks out?
[I’m] just resurfacing as an artist. I might be putting out a mixtape, and, you know, just getting back on the scene in that way that I want my fans to receive me. I’ve been getting feedback, whether it’s positive energy or negative energy. It’s all been helpful to me in the past few months, and my music is definitely gonna speak for itself. I’m just feeling so blessed.
A lot of people still see you as the “Lip Gloss” girl. How has it been transitioning from a teen sensation to an adult performer?
I think that my fans definitely have grown with me. Every artist has their struggle point. My challenge was to be lyrical and to show people that, Yeah you’re from the streets, you’re rough, but [you can] show people that you can do it without even doing that. Because my music has always been like that, it’s been easy for people to watch me grow. It’s not like I tried to like start cursing [or] try to act like I got this new, grown image. So, I feel like the response is sort of like being in our grandmother’s living room. Some people are gonna have something negative to say, some people are gonna have something positive to say, but they all got something to say because they all care and I love that.
With that said, are you they type that feels all press is good press?
I love the positive. Everybody loves the positive. If you hear something positive, you be like, “Oh, I’m doing my thing!” But, this industry … it’s like being in my grandmother’s living room…there’s like 50 of us…some people try to put you down and then some people will lift you up. It’s not like we hate each other, it’s just that you might have a negative energy when you tell somebody how you feel about them [laughs] because you’re just tired of their stuff, you know. But, growing up in New York… you take from everything. Even the drug addicts could tell you something, and for someone else they might be like, “Shut up, she don’t know what she’s talking about. She get high,” and then you might be like, “Naw, but did you hear what she just said? That helped me.” So, I take it all.
Okay. You’ve gotten a bit of bad publicity lately, from jumping on the stage at the VMA Awards to comparing yourself to Nicki Minaj. Do you feel like people are beginning to count you out of the game? Do you feel attacked?
[I’m] in it more than ever. I’m so alive [and] so gifted. I feel like when things come easily or just given to you, you don’t really appreciate it. But, I feel like when you fight for something you appreciate it even more.
In that case, let’s talk about your most recent press coverage. To clear it up for XXL readers, is there any animosity between you and Nicki?
There was never any animosity. She came to my show…the greeting was beautiful. It was like, “Hi beautiful, how are you?” you know what I mean. It wasn’t like “Hi,” and then the name-calling or screwed up face or anything negative. If someone has something negative to say about you or they don’t like you, they wouldn’t greet you and say, “Hello beautiful.” If we decided to go at each other and then somebody ended up dead, everybody in hip-hop would be like, “Oh my God, it’s so sad what happened to them.” It’s just like what happened with Pac and Biggie. The same people that promote it and it’s sad.
During your Power 105 interview, you said that you may be moving to France. Is that in the works right now?
I’m definitely gonna go to Paris, and do what I want, when I want, how I want. But I think when Angela Yee, one of the jocks on 105, she was like, “Well, Lil Mama, you know, you’re saying that you plan on moving to Paris, but then I don’t think you’re serious about your music.” But, it’s like Jay-Z and Kanye have a song called “Niggas in Paris,”…we can go to Paris, we can go to Africa; we can go to Egypt; we can go anywhere in the world; China, Japan…hip-hop is forever and hip-hop is universal. I can go to Mars and make music. So at the end of the day, anybody that thinks like that, like if you go to a different country or continent or place that you’re not serious about your music, that doesn’t make sense to me. Music never stops. Music is alive.