One of my favorite artists to follow right now is Lil’ Mo. Man, if you thought I was rough on the VMAs you should have seen her comments. But they were all hilarious. For those of you who don’t remember Mo, just picture a more ghetto Fantasia – scary, isn’t it?
If that still doesn’t jog your memory, check this out.
Cynthia Loving signed to Elektra Records at the end of the millennium. Lil’ Mo immediately became a protege of Missy Elliott. She produced, wrote songs, sang hooks and occasionally even rapped alongside a who’s who of artists – Missy, Jay-Z, Blackstreet, Nicole Wray, ODB and my boy Keith Sweat. Man, I loved their collabo “I’ll Trade.” But I bet you’re not surprised.
Mo’s gained a following on Missy’s “Hot Boyz” and her first single was “5 Minutes” from the Why Do Fools Fall In Love Soundtrack. Surprisingly, the wifey loves that bizarre song. But Mo’s big break came a year later, when she became Ja Rule’s partner in crime. “I Cry” and “Put It On Me” were huge – the latter climbed to No. 3 on the Billboard charts. I assume Ja’s success with Mo prompted him to make all those horrid songs with J. Lo the following year. Thanks, Mo.
In the summer of 2001, after a ton of delays, Lil’ Mo’s debut, Based On A True Story, finally hit shelves. It eventually went gold. Thanks to the wonders of Napster (remember THAT dinosaur?) I had heard the album in its entirety months earlier, but that didn’t stop me from picking up a copy. Her single, “Superwoman Part II” was all over BET and MTV at the time. It’s also notable for introducing her frequent collaborator Fabolous to mainstream audiences – encouraging everyone to be as bad of a speller as he is.
The second single, “Gangsta,” didn’t get much attention but the album itself was a definite keeper. Mo’s boisterous voice and sass made all tracks a treat. Watch Mo become a hood genie on “Ta Da.” And while she could get carried away on some ballads, when she contained herself she made magic, like on “She Cood Neva B Me.” Ugh, I guess Fabolous taught her to spell.
People used to give Mo a hard time for her multicolored braids at the time (and for good reason). But maybe she was ahead of the curve – all the stars rock gaudy extensions these days.
Still looks stupid.
In 2003, Mo returned with Meet The Girl Next Door. She and Fab were back at it, and hooked up for the banger “4Ever,” probably my all-time favorite track from her. Sadly, despite a solid lead single and strong initial sales, the album underperformed thanks to label screw-ups. The radio track “21 Answers,” a reply of sorts to 50 Cent’s massively popular “21 Questions,” didn’t even make the album for some reason. And “Ten Commandments” received a little radio play but no video. That’s a shame because the album showed lots of growth (i.e., was a little less ghetto and featured stronger writing) and there were tons of potential singles – “Shoulda Known,” “1st Time,” even the interlude “Heaven” were all awesome. It was one of my favorite albums of that year.
Mo parted ways with Elektra after the Meet The Girl Next Door debacle, signing, with ALL people, Cash Money. Wanna know why Juvenile, B.G., Turk, Mannie Fresh and the rest of Cash Money roster jumped ship? Because unless your name is Lil Wayne, your money will end up funny if you do business with Baby. Last I heard, the guy who produced “A Milli” is still looking for his check! Mo released a bunch of singles but surprise, surprise, her album, Syndicated: The Lil’ Mo Hour, was never released. It may have been a blessing in disguise – most of those songs were very lackluster.
After freeing herself from the curse of the Birdman, Mo finally returned in 2007 with Pain & Paper, which I’m sure 95 percent of you didn’t even know existed. The album wasn’t bad, either. I wasn’t feeling the first single “Sumtimes I,” featuring the homeless-looking Jim Jones. But the remix with, of course, Fabolous was much better. I really enjoyed “One For the Road” too.
A couple of weeks ago, Mo announced that she had released the album’s second single “Lucky Her.” THREE YEARS after the album came out. I think that all that hair dye has affected her perception of time.
Lil’ Mo has since become a pretty popular radio personality in D.C., and as I mentioned, she’s been blowing up Twitter these days.
Should She Come Back?: I guess she technically is still around, since she’s passing off old singles as new stuff. Her next album, Tattoos and Roses, has been in the works for awhile. If it’s anything like her first two albums it’ll be worth the wait. Her wailing choir lady vocals are an acquired taste but I love ’em. Guess I’ll keep reading her Twitter disses in the meantime.