Before the year finished, Lil Mama dropped a new project titled Take Me Back, an EP inspired by personal reflection and hip-hop crusaders from the past. Lil Mama takes us on a journey through the good times when music had substance and a message without slinging dough and blowing money fast.
Lil Mama has always been known to express herself with no filter. Recently, we linked up with the 26-year-old MC to discuss her plans for 2016, her affiliation with the W.E.A.L.T.H Experience, and her relationship with MC Lyte and Lynn Richardson. In a heated discussion about the state of hip-hop and its spiral into over-saturated oblivion, Mama was able to give us her insight on what she’d like to see in the future of young hip-hop. After taking full responsibility for not putting out an album in five years, Lil Mama made it clear that she was NEVER doing it again. Lil Mama seemed to have fallen off the radio radar, but not the tabloids.
Fearlessly, Lil Mama has shut down such pretenses of her viral memes and her redundant faux pa at the VMA’s when she jumped on the stage with Jay-Z and Alicia Keys. After listening to her EP once or three times, it’s clear that Ma is here to work. However, she’s definitely taking on more than just internet trolls.
Over the weekend, Lil Mama joined MC Lyte and Lynn Richardson as a panelist at The W.E.A.L.T.H Experience conference event in Miami, Florida. This year marks the first annual retreat where female influencers in different industries discuss wealth in every aspect of the word—Womanhood, Expansion, Assets, Leadership, Transformation, and Health.
Continue reading to learn about Lil Mama’s growing pains, how her faith in god is the main power that motivates her, and her philanthropic initiatives.
PYNK: What inspired the Take Me Back EP that you dropped last month?
Lil Mama: In the summer, I did something that was very popular at the time. I did the “Sausage” song and had a lot of fun with it. I flipped it and sampled the original track “Mona Lisa” by Slick Rick, which was dope. I was inspired by the golden era of hip-hop and going forward, I wanted to work on music that exemplified that sound in hip-hop. I was inspired by the era when people loved to dance and actually had something to say, not saying that there isn’t a message in music today, I just think it’s over-saturated with people talking about literally, anything. I wanted to go back to that place even if the concept was about love or about dancing or addressing things that are going on.
PYNK: Trying to understand the paradox between underrated artists and mainstream artists. Do you think that your breakout hit “Lip Gloss” pigeonholed you and put you in a place where you constantly have to prove yourself in hip-hop and mainstream music?
Lil Mama: I disagree with that. After putting out albums and having several singles in the top 10 Billboard charts like “Shawty Get Loose,” with Chris Brown, I think I had a really successful moment for my time and what ended up happening was I hadn’t put out an album in a long time and I take full responsibility for that. With that being said, I take full responsibility for where I am with my music. I feel like whatever I do with music, I make an impact and whatever I do with my gifts and talents, I make an impact. It’s just about getting back into it.
PYNK: I know you have a relationship with MC Lyte. What is your affiliation with the W.E.A.L.T.H experience and how did the opportunity come about?
Lil Mama: Both MC Lyte and Lynn Richardson have taught me so much about growth. Being a speaker, doing music, and acting; they have taught me so much about how to implement all my talents at the right time.
“The W.E.A.L.T.H Experience has given me a platform where I can positively influence our generation using my voice in other ways besides just making music.”
It’s a perfect outlet for young people to hear different perspectives and learn. I eventually want to start doing my own public speaking events for the youth, so I think that this is the perfect training for me to be able to execute my plans. MC Lyte and Lynn Richardson are very consistent and hard-working women and I’ve learned so much through them and their actions.
PYNK: Are there any charitable or philanthropic initiatives that you participate in personally?
Lil Mama: I just did a holiday bowling toy drive with Funk Master Flex in NYC. It was put together by a good friend of ours who’s a big influence in the New York community. We also did a turkey give away for Thanksgiving and a toy drive for Christmas. Whenever I can get involved, I make sure I make time to do it.
“It’s all about making sure that we do our part and use our names and popularity to do the right things and make the right choices. I remember being younger and looking up to people who were doing great things in the community, so I know it makes a difference.”
PYNK: What people didn’t see in that meme circulating from The Breakfast Club interview, is the point you were making prior to the emotional conversation. You mentioned the negative images that young people are exposed to when watching and listening to certain artists. What do you think people of your caliber can do to change this?
Lil Mama: I definitely think it’s going to take a lot of work. It’s like running a house. If hip-hop were a home, it would be out of control. I think that hip-hop is at a point where people are seeing things happen and not saying anything because “it doesn’t have anything to do with them.” I think that people need to be walking examples for our younger generations. Take Me Back and my other project Lyrical Purge were created so I could fully express myself and address issues both personal and public. I wanted my music to focus on real things. Originally it was supposed to be 5 songs, but then the meme came around and I wanted to address it, so it became 7 songs instead of 5. I’m in a space now that reflects my reality.
PYNK: What motivates you?
“God motivates me for sure. To know that spiritually, I am existing around something greater than my physical, my situation and my status. I exist in a realm of greatness and I am very passionate about it because I can feel it. No matter how high or how low I am, I can feel it.”
I would say, I am inspired by my family. Having all these familiar faces that I have grown up with surround me and support me is an amazing feeling. To experience triumph and pain with these people and to be able to continue doing what I love and see my people enjoy it and take me for me, it’s an amazing feeling. One of my cousins was battling with cancer when she was 21 and even with my mother passing from cancer, all of those experiences help me see that even though situations get rough as long as I have faith, I will see the light.