Singersroom.com: The industry is very single based right now. With the industry focusing more on that hit song and less on a quality album, do you feel you can make it?
Lil Mo: The industry goes through cycles like every five years or so. Every five or ten years something is hot, it has its run, then it dies down. The artists have more leverage now because all you need is one hit. But a lot of these artists may not have the longevity of me, or Mary, or Faith Evans because they’re not grinding. They don’t have to work as hard or do as much anymore. As long as you grind there will always be people that will remember you and there will always be people looking for you. The artists that were out when I was coming up were more seasoned. They all had a story to tell. They didn’t seem like they popped up over night. Like Mary, we felt like we knew her. We knew she was from the hood, we knew she was going through it with K-Ci, we knew stuff about her. We understood why she sang the way she did. The only thing we know about these new artists is they can dance. That’s it. Once the dance is over then what? How long will they last?
Singersroom.com: So what is it about you that will make someone bypass the new dancing artist and pick up that Lil Mo album?
Lil Mo: Artists aren’t open. They are so secretive. Like artists are always talking about “I don’t go with nobody.” How are you going to sing to me about getting a man when in every interview you say you don’t have one? People always say they like me because I’m real. I can tell you about kids because I got two, I can tell you about a man because I’ve been married, divorced, and everywhere in between. I can tell you about getting money, I can tell you about saving money, I can tell you about buying a home. I can talk about these things because I lived them and people feel me because they know I’ve lived them.
Singersroom.com: You mentioned you have a lot of experiences to share, what do you tell artists who ask you for advice?
Lil Mo: Artists always tell people looking for advice to keep their head up! I don’t say that because nobody wants to hear keep your head up. Half the time [while chasing your dream] your head is going to be down. People don’t realize that the things that hurt you the most make the best stories sometimes. And that story might touch someone who’s going through the same thing you went through. It’s not about selling records all the time. It’s about touching one life. One life or maybe a million people but one life at a time.
Singersroom.com: How does you being a parent effect your career?
Lil Mo: It doesn’t hinder it at all. I feel my kids were designed and sent from god directly for me. Like I’m on the road and I call my daughter and she’s like “Where’re you at? Did you get on a plane? I want to get on a plane.” They don’t have to cry themselves to sleep. When I’m home, I’m mommy. But they know I have an album coming out. My kids are very smart. Industry kids are very different from other kids. They’re accustomed to a certain lifestyle. My daughters know there are certain times of the year when I’ll be gone.
Singersroom.com: How did you come to the decision to be your own boss and how has the transition from artist to owner been?
Lil Mo: I declared my own independence and I’m so happy I did that. I’m so glad that I’m not one of those people who had to get bought out of a contract then they tell you you can’t do this or you can’t do that. I’ve never been one of those people you can tell exactly what to do. I’m always going to think about it. When Elektra closed I knew what was going on. I had an inside connect; I always have an inside connect. I always feel you should never disrespect the assistants or the interns because they’re going to be the next CEO’s. They’d tell me stuff and I’d be like “word? They laid 40 people off.” They’re about to close down. So I knew not to renew my contract. My time was up there so I had my daughter and still kept doing shows. The second time I signed with Cash Money. I didn’t know much about them except for the “Bling Bling” era. But I knew Slim and Baby listened to R&B. They were really into R&B music so I felt like they might be able to take me where I needed to be. Then Katrina hit and the whole Cash Money kind of flat lined. But I realized I don’t order my time, I don’t orchestrate when I’m coming out and I’m where god wants me to be. When it’s my time to come out trust me, I’ll be there. I’m glad the power is now in my hands. Why? Because I’ve spent seven years learning the business and now it’s time for me to show what I’ve learned.
My lawyer suggested I do it. My lawyer is a beast. She’s very business savvy. When I met with her she asked if I wanted her to get me another major deal because she’s cool with all the CEO’s. I didn’t really want to be on a major again and she was like “nowadays you really don’t have to. Everything is on the net. Everything is downloadable. You should do a female version of what Jay-Z or 50 Cent did. You’re in a position where you can set a standard. Take some time and think about it. When you’re ready let me know.” So I started on my album and that’s when I met my business partner. He’s an investor. He said here’s what I want to do for your career. We didn’t put a dollar sign on it because it sets certain expectations. You can’t say “I need $400,000 to make a hit album.” In reality you can make a good album for $50,000. You just need to have good relationships. I had my connections with Brian Cox, Kat Williams, Da Brat, Trina, and Jim Jones. These are all friends of mine and they were all available. I got all of these people out if love. Everybody gets their publishing and we’re just going in. Everybody showed love because they love my work and my spirit. We did trade offs and handled business amongst ourselves. Nobody was like “oh call my manager.” It’s independent but not underground. Everything we did was top shelf.
Singersroom.com: How have you been able to maintain these very valuable relationships?
Lil Mo: I’ve always maintained a good rapport and a good reputation. I’ve always been cordial. To this day, because of how I am and how I work, I can get anybody on a song if they’re available.
Singersroom.com: Being a parent, a CEO, an executive producer and an artist is a lot of work, more than anyone can imagine. Do you feel like you’re up to the challenge?
Lil Mo: I’m so ready for it right now. I wasn’t ready for it back then. I would’ve been like everybody else and smoked it all away. Everything before this was a preparation period. Like Jennifer Hudson. I met her right after American Idol. I did a show with her before she won the Oscar. I said you have a gift. With talent you win talent shows. When you have a gift, it shines through. Just because you didn’t win [American Idol] doesn’t mean you lost. A year later she got an Oscar. She saw me again and was like “oh thank you. I remembered what you said.” I was like don’t thank me because it didn’t come from me it came from god. A lot of people get discouraged but you use that to push you to new heights.
Read Part 1 of this interview —— By: Interview By Haaron Hines