Lil Mo played a similar position to Nate Dogg, in starting in 1999 became a master at singing chorus which propelled songs to the top on charts on “Hot Boyz,” “Put It On Me,” and “Can’t Let You Go.” She turned her feature appearance on songs into a solo career releasing ‘Based on a True Story,’ ‘Meet the Girl Next Door,’ and ‘Pain & Paper.’
After take a break from working as an artist Lil Mo, landed a job as a radio host for WPGC of Washington D.c. Now the “Superwoman” singer readies herself to return to the stage to share her journey on ‘P.S. I Love Me,’ “a motivational [and] inspirational Hip Hop and R&B album.”
Singersroom: Earlier this way, you took part in the musical “The Color Purple.” Can you tell me what that experience was like?
Lil Mo: The experience was like something I’ve never felt in my life before. The way I got the part and the way that it just all went down was truly a gift from God. [There were] no auditions; they just went off my talent alone. Even though the part was already written, they had somebody doing it for the two weeks that it was in [Washington] D.C.; it was like an Easter special that they were doing for the two weeks that I was on. It was just like “wow.” Just to be a part of theater alone, ’cause that’s more grueling than being an artist because that’s a whole different audience. [For] the theater audience, if you don’t come in there and bring it, which they’re used to seeing because “The Color Purple” has been on the road and everybody’s parts are known for years… So if I got up there faking, they probably would have sent me home on grand opening night [Laughs]. I was not trying to let that happen! But it was a great experience, and one that I would like to do again.
I get asked a lot would I ever do theater, and I’m like “Uhhh. Let me just get off the ‘Color Purple’ high that I’m on right now, and we shall see.”
Singersroom: So how would you compare performing live as an artist versus in theater?
Lil Mo: Well live performances for my songs, I would say is easier because I’ve been performing my songs for the past twelve years that I’ve been professionally in the music industry. I always can put my spin on it and that’s how I feel. So whatever I wanna do, I just want the audience to pick up on my emotions, and then I control the atmosphere that way.
With theater it’s a difference because you have to get into character. It’s not you just getting up there and singing … Like there’s a scene in “The Color Purple” we did, it was called “Hell No.” That’s where Ms. Sofia is trying to tell Celie, “You need to leave! He’s putting his hands on you… Like are you serious right now?” You really have to put yourself in the [situation] like you’re trying to tell your friend [that] you don’t want her man beating her anymore. So you really have to be like “I would not take this!” There were times I thought I was going to float off the stage; I just got so excited, like “wow this is really happening.” I didn’t go in there acting like Lil Mo. I went in there thinking as if I was in the 1920s and as a black woman being abused at the time, how would I take it on without trying to overdo it and make it too Hip Hop and R&B-ish.
It’s really totally different because you have to perform with the time period that is allotted for that play. With my stuff, I mean, I could just roll all over the floor and act all crazy and do whatever I wanna do because I control more of that. Theater is more controlled with what you want the audience to feel.
Singersroom: So would you ever trying to expand into acting in movies?
Lil Mo: Oh yes, definitely! I know one thing I’ll say… “The Color Purple” didn’t make me bourgie, but it made everything I do from hence those two weeks have to be on an upper-level. Like I can’t just go be in a play now called “Mama I Fried Some Chicken, Now I’m Pregnant.” It doesn’t work like that anymore. Once I did that, I knew what I was taking on. That’s why I said, “Wow, this is really a gift from God.”
I’m looking forward to hopefully one day working with Tyler Perry, and stuff like that. I would love to do movies with him. I would love to work with Will Smith. I do not want to do anything raggedy. I am sorry… There are a lot of things that go straight to DVD [and] some of them were good, but I really want to go in because I know that when I do something, I put my all into it and I don’t halve steps. I know I’ll have to go through the motions and climb my way to the top, but I’m ready for it. I’m ready for it.
Singersroom: And even before “The Color Purple”, earlier this year you were a radio host on WPGC. What was that experience like before you guys parted ways?
Lil Mo: The experience was great. With radio, the one thing I love about it is because my personality. Where I would say a lot of people get on Twitter, where I’m just so random and so subliminal. I speak my mind and I’m really uncensored but I keep the FCC and them people [happy]. I don’t wanna get fined, because ever since the incident with Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake, if you get fined, it starts at $300,000. I knew how to push the envelope without going overboard and losing my job.
I just knew that once I came back into the artistry side, I had to either be an artist or be a radio host. I realized that some of the people that I would have to gossip about on air, even though I’m not scared of anybody, I just realized that you can’t do both because you may say something and then you have to do a show with the person, like… Yeah I heard her. You just have to know the nature of the business; I ain’t mean it like that.
Singersroom: Now we know behind the scenes of everything, it’s not always glitz and glamour. How would you compare radio politics to industry politics?
Lil Mo: One thing I learned about radio politics on this go-around is that you can be the best, but you can still be either replaced or you always have to realize that nothing lasts forever. I’m glad that I went out with a bang. Because I was trying to think, “How am I going to leave radio and be an artist?” Once my contract was up, I was just like, “Yo, let me go out with a bang.” I was striving to be top five, which I did in less than a year, which is honestly unheard of in this market because there’s a new rating system called PPM. Those are the meters that people wear, and you know, they might be listening to something else. And just judging by where the meters were, my target demo didn’t even have them … my 18-34 [year-old demographics]. So just to say I had the 18-25, 18-34, [and] 25-49 crowd rocking with me, I was like that’s truly a blessing because, I would say, technically they would be considered the people less likely to listen to me. I wasn’t even doing that many appearances; I kept it real. You hear my voice, and we kept it at that. Not saying that I didn’t want to be in the public eye, but I knew that once I came back to the artistry was when I wanted people to see me. I just wanted to be heard on radio, and I’ll be seen as Lil Mo the singer.
So they all worked out in my favor, and we’re in talks of doing a syndicated show… So God is good.
Singersroom: With having experienced so many different platforms to expand your audience through radio, music & social networks like Twitter, which do you think is most effective? Why?
Lil Mo: I would say on the music side because that’s really what I love to do. I just so happen to be entertaining. I just so happen to tell a joke, and to take one. I would say that I’m a chameleon in the industry; I always felt that there’s not one set thing that I’m here to do. I don’t just sing, I don’t just write; I don’t just tell jokes; I don’t just go to church. There are so many things that I do, but I know when it comes down to singing, that’s what I really, really love to do and that’s where I can change people’s lives. There are certain things I can tell jokes on or talk about with my opinion, and they don’t have to agree, but I think 9 out of 10 people will agree like “Yeah, she can really sing.”
I really can deliver, and my interpretation is really great on records because I give it my all. Either I’ve done shows where I was hoarse, but I still knew how to use my lip-sync and get my point across.
Singersroom: Now let’s talk about your upcoming album. It’s been four years since we’ve last had some music from you. Last night, your single “On the Floor” with Fatman Scoop officially went on sale on iTunes and just last month we got a new mixtape from you. Based on what we’ve heard recently, are they a fair assessment to what we can expect on your forthcoming album?
Lil Mo: Well the album ‘P.S. I Love Me’ will be out Lord-willing [at the] end of July, beginning of August depending on the day the label puts out the album. With me being independent with major distribution, it’s really up to me. Do I want to sell a million copies in the first week? Okay then, I’ll wait to put my album out and promote, promote, promote. Or do I want to put it out and let it slow build? Because I’m really bringing myself back to an industry that I took a 4-year hiatus from. So we were like, let’s put out this single and get everybody back in the club dancing cause its summer time [and] let’s have fun. And just keep it moving.
The mixtape was just to hold the fans over cause they have been waiting for a long time. I just know how I am when I take breaks, if and whenever I feel is best. Because I don’t want to come out and just be like “You know what? I don’t want to do this anymore. This ain’t for me.” I can just hide under a rock and act like nothing else exists outside of that. But I realized that there’s a whole fan base that grew up with me. People hit me up with saying “I loved Lil Mo when I was in the 2nd grade!” and I’m like “Oh Lord Jesus!” So I realized there’s a fan base and there’s a new fan base, as well as a consistent one that’s out there waiting for me. So I just gotta get it together, and make it do what it do, because a lot of people don’t have people that will rock with them. I say in my mixtape, “Who else you know can take a four-year hiatus, and come back like ‘Hi haters’,” and still people were like “Yes! Only Mo would say something like that!” You know, a lot of my fans believe in me, and for that I don’t want to abandon them. Even though I do have to take breaks, they’re like, “Please can you hurry up and come back?! This is just a mess. Everybody just sounds crazy.” And I’ll be, “Okay! Dang!”
Singersroom: Tell me a bit more about the album sound… What state of mind were you in while recording?
Lil Mo: Well “‘P.S. I Love Me’ is basically love songs that I wrote to myself that I wanted everybody else to feel so they can love themselves more. One thing I’ve realized is that when you give a lot of yourself, you can lose yourself in this industry. That’s one thing I didn’t want to do, and that’s one thing I didn’t do. I will take a break before I let this thing break me. With that, I realized how much I love myself, and that’s why I had the strength to come back like I never left.
As far as features and stuff like that, I have Tweet on a record… [she is] one of my old-time friends. We actually did the title cut for the album entitled “I Love Me,” which is about giving your all to somebody and then you realize, “Yo, I can do better than this because I am better than this.”
It’s basically a motivational, inspirational Hip Hop and R&B album. I have Maino on the record [and] PJ Morgan, who a lot people say is underground, but I say no. He has a cult-like following, like his shows are packed out and he’s on the road with Maroon 5. So I got him right before he went on the road. I got Dawn Richard from Dirty Money. I got Fatman Scoop on the single which is entitled “On The Floor.” So with that, we’re just going to party, we’re going to have fun, you may cry a little bit, you may want to kick somebody out, you may want to bring somebody back in your life. It just deals with so many emotional things. I’m a woman, and I realize that I’m an emotional creature, but with emotion, you realize you love. The main focus is to love yourself more. You don’t have to be stuck in a situation, but then there are some situations that you have to realize aren’t that serious… So just don’t give up.
Singersroom: If you had to choose, which song on the album is your favorite and why?
Lil Mo: Oh man! It’s so many that I love, but one that’s my favorite would probably be “Perfect Man.” Because everybody has their ideal definition of what their perfect man would be…like tall, dark and handsome. Yeah he may be tall, dark and handsome, but he may have no job. Or, I love me a man that goes to the gym, flat-stomach, and nice car… but he may not have money for gas for that car. My idea of a perfect man would be just a man that loves me unconditionally. Everything is not going to be perfect, but he can be the perfect man [through] all his imperfections [and] he still loves me. Like, “Yo, he must be an angel because there’s no reason if he leaves this earth, Lord take me with you because I do not feel like going on that search again looking for another man to love me like this.” Yeah so no male bashing over here.
Singersroom: What else can we expect from Lil Mo for the rest of the year?
Lil Mo: Lord willing, I have a fragrance out as well. I’m just trying to get my hand in all aspects of entertainment and entrepreneurship. The label is doing the perfume line. Her family [members] are chemists, so we sat with them and came up with the best scent that we could. I call it “The Fragrance by Celeb that Don’t Stank.” A lot of people will put their name on something, and you’re like “Why did you put this fragrance out?” Like they don’t even wear it themselves. I understand a lot of people would like to get that money.
I’m more into getting the product out there; good music, good smells… It’s really about not what you say and what you do, but how you make people feel. So I just want to make everybody feel good, and direct them to my website, which has all my whereabouts, what I’m about to do, what I done did. I also leave it open for people with what they want to see me do. Its www.thelilmoshow.com and just show people that I’m approachable.
—— By: Interview By Connie Tang