The pint sized woman with the powerful voice known as Lil’ Mo has seen a lot of highs and lows in her career. From collaborations on some of the biggest records in the last decade to being a parent, this Long Island, NY native has seen it all. After being signed to two major labels, just for those situations to go bad, this talented songstress has taken a page from Jay-Z and 50 Cent and is releasing her new album, Pain and Paper, on her own label, Honeychild Entertainment. With R&B becoming more pop with every ringtone sold, the industry may just be ready for the return of one of the few vocalists left in the game.
Singersroom.com: You’ve been away from the Limelight for about four years. What made you wait until now to come back?
Lil Mo: I’m glad that I waited because I needed time to myself. I am a mother so I had to tell myself “Yo, chill out on the Lil Mo thing.” I can’t afford to be over saturatingâ¦being on stage everywhere then passing out from dehydration or exhaustion like some of these other people are doing. I needed time to myself because even before I’d gotten signed I’d been on the road for six years straight. That takes a toll on you mentally, physically, emotionally, all that. I was tired. I needed time to find out who Lil Mo is.
Singersroom.com: During your hiatus you had a few highs and lows. Did those experiences play a big part in the process of creating this album?
Lil Mo: As much as I hate to be a pity party promoter, I’m an advocate for pain. I believe pain is weakness leaving the body. So with this album I’m showing people that I’ve grown and I can show and tell things I wasn’t able to before. I’m my own boss, I’m my own woman. I’m also a mother so I can speak about many different topics. I felt like I had to take myself away and come back with the biggest return.
Singersroom.com: What is the biggest difference between your major label releases and your indie release?
Lil Mo: The old process was getting monotonous. The label would put out one single, the video, then the album and that’s it. Then I’m featured on everybody else’s record. They’re doing two million and I’m doing about 300,000 and I’m like this ain’t fair. And everybody would make it seem like it was my fault and it wasn’t. I’m one of the few artists today that still does promo. It’s a music business, music and business. It’s what I love, it’s what I do for a living, it’s what I’m going to do for the rest of my life. ‘Pain and Paper’ is the best way to reintroduce myself to old fans and to introduce myself to new ones. There’s more to me than just being able to sing. I have a message. I’ve been through tests so I have a testimony; I’ve been through misery so I have a ministry. I never realized it until now but now I understand why people love Mary when she’s hurting. So many people are going through so much and need a way out. I’m going to be that idol that helps them carry that baggage and helps them find a way out.
Singersroom.com: You’re known for a lot of your hip-hop collaborations. Did you stick to that formula or did you try something new?
Lil Mo: My new nickname is the godmother of hip-hop/R&B. No matter what, because I am Lil Mo, it’s always going to be attached to hip-hop; I am hip-hop. That’s what I was raised on; all I listened to was Gospel and hip-hop. I remember I wasn’t allowed to listen to KRS-1 and Public Enemy so I would sneak and listen to them. I used to study them and try to figure out what made these people say fight the power because that’s how I felt. I was young but I was always rebellious. That’s how I felt and that’s what hip-hop is. Not saying that in a negative way but hip-hop is the only music you can express yourself in anyway and say whatever you want and get away with it. We have so many different ways to say different things and that’s why hip-hop is more felt.
R&B is my emotional and compassionate side. That’s why I always tell people look on the left side of my face because that’s the R&B side. That’s the side where I pose for pictures, that’s my church side, there’s no tattoosâ¦it’s my softer side. My right side, that’s the hand I write with, that’s the hand I’d punch you in your face with, that’s my hip-hop side, my dominant side.
So I’m split in half, neither side will ever go away. I have 28 tattoos that remind me of who I am and what I come from. But now I’m kind of developing a third side because I’m getting more in tune with my gospel side. With both my parents being pastors I have to respect the fact that if it wasn’t for god I wouldn’t be here. I’m a person who believes that nothing I do is of myself. I put god first. None of us are perfect. We’re born in sin and shaped in iniquity. It’s up to us as people to get our minds right so I’m focused right now. But the hip-hop side is my dominant side. It’s the reason I speak my mind, it’s my strength.
The album will be geared more toward the R&B crowd because I have grown up, I have matured. But it will have elements of hip-hop because that’s part of me.
Singersroom.com: So will there will be the traditional Lil Mo and Fabolous collaboration?
Lil Mo: (Laughs) Every time I drop a first single Fabolous is on it. But things are a little different now because we’re not on the same label anymore. Jim Jones is on my first single but Fab is on the album.
Singersroom.com: What was it like working with Jim Jones?
Lil Mo: It’s crazy being around a lot of these hip-hop heads because they don’t even listen to hip-hop. Like they listen to R&B, Rock, even classical music. Like Jim Jones, you’d think he listens to himself or other rap all day but he’s a huge R&B fan. Fab and them listen to groups like ColdPlay. It’s so amazing to see that just because we are hip-hop, we don’t have to stick to that one kind of music.
Read Part 2 of this interview —— By: Interview By Haaron Hines