Lil’ Mo: Real Big

Petite, blue-haired vixen Lil’ Mo has returned to the block, this time as a member of the southern-dominated Cash Money stable. The Long Island native who has sanctified hooks for Missy Elliot, Jay-Z and Fabolous to name a few, also paired with Ja Rule on such hits as “Put It On Me” and “I Cry” […]

Petite, blue-haired vixen Lil’ Mo has returned to the block, this time as a member of the southern-dominated Cash Money stable. The Long Island native who has sanctified hooks for Missy Elliot, Jay-Z and Fabolous to name a few, also paired with Ja Rule on such hits as “Put It On Me” and “I Cry” back in 2000. But according to Mo, drama ensued when Rule failed to allot her share of money for her contribution to “Put It On Me”.

The church-going vocalist, songwriter, and expectant mom recently spoke with Alternatives about her past resentment toward former collaboration buddy Ja Rule, her new abode at Cash Money and her upcoming third album, Syndicated: The Lil Mo Hour. Alternatives: You’re with Cash Money Records now. Why the move?

Lil’ Mo: I liked their track record, their history, just the way that they establish artists and the artists maintain. I don’t know why what went on between them and the other artists [Juvenile, BG]. But my situation with them is all good. I don’t have any complaints. The fact that the CEO of Round Table [Merlin Bob] and of Cash Money [Ronald “Slim” Williams, Bryan “Baby” Williams], I have all their numbers, their personal numbers. So I don’t have to go through anybody else to get at them. If I have a problem I can bring it to them right then and there, and we handle it right then and there. So, just the fact that I can have that, the relationship is crazy.

AHHA: Did you have any issues with your old record company, Elektra?

Lil’ Mo: I’d rather not discuss them. That was last year, we on to new things. I mean, I just think that they—you know like a lot of people went through labels. I was only signed to one label, which was Elektra, and it was just like that was my stepping stone. I put out two albums with them, I made some good money. They paid me some good money, but other than that, I’m just glad where I’m at.

AHHA: How is it being surrounded by all these southern artists?

Lil’ Mo: It’s crazy, because with me being from Long Island, I wasn’t ever a person that grew up one way. There’s a lot of people who grew up in Brooklyn [who’ve] never been out of Brooklyn. I grew up in Long Island, but my dad joined the military so I lived in Texas. I’ve lived in Georgia, ATL. I live in Maryland now. I lived in North Carolina. So I know the southern hospitality—in between Louisiana is Texas and North Carolina—so I kind of knew what I was looking forward to when I got with [Cash Money]. It’s just all love all around the board. I mean, even though it’s different—we all have a different slang—the love is just universal and I appreciate that from them.

AHHA: Is Lil Wayne still officially down with Cash Money?

Lil’ Mo: Oh, I don’t even know. That’s what I gotta ask them. As far as I know, he’s still there ‘cause I keep on hearing him saying in raps, “Weezy F Baby. Please say the baby” [“Soldiers”] and I know that’s Baby’s son, so they never told me he’s gone. As far as I know, he’s still Cash Money ‘til the day that he goes to see Jesus.

AHHA: Are there any collaborations with Cash Money artists on the new album?

Lil’ Mo: Yeah, I got Birdman on a joint called ‘Won’t Look Any Further’, and that’s a collabo joint we did together. It’s basically him saying what he got going on, and I’m saying he could pretty much vouch for all the things that he talk about. If he say, ‘I got money’ – he could prove it. If he say, ‘I’m crazy between the sheets’ – I’m pretty sure if you ask a couple of chicks, that he could prove it. And so I’m just saying [in the song] to the ladies out there, a lot of these guys talk a good game but they can’t prove it. So before you lay down with this person and be like, ‘Man, that was just a piece of my love that I wasted – I could have saved for my daggone self,’ it’s just saying, converse with a brother before you lay down with him and start thinking, ‘Oh, yeah. I blazed him, I set him off straight’. He might not be all that. Just like they try to talk about girls like, ‘If your head game ain’t tight, I’m not coming over’. [The song] is basically talking junk to the fellas—in a good way.

AHHA: So what’s the meaning behind the album title,Syndicated?

Lil’ Mo: It’s basically dealing with the fact that when I had my own radio show in Baltimore [a few years ago], I had an afternoon drive show and I was like number one, but the whole world didn’t get to experience my talk game and just the way I could slip into different songs. All the songs that just so happened to be on the show that day [on this album] are mine, so it’s just an hour of me playing all my music. It’s all new music and I have talk breaks, commercials that I came up with. Just to show that I’m versatile, not just do an interlude with somebody breathing on the phone or a sex interlude, that’s so wack. I’m a comedienne—not like a stand-up comic—but everybody that knows me personally knows that I stay clowning. So we got that on there.

It’s just basically showing a different side and bringing a different thing to R&B, ‘cause there be some shows that people don’t listen to on the radio. You can pop my album in and play it several times. A lot of people like the interludes that I’ve done on previous albums. Like the one I did where the boyfriend was wack, when he’s scared to call his baby mother.

AHHA: Can you talk about the Ja Rule situation? I heard you were upset back then that he wasn’t giving you credit for all those collaborations you did with him.

Lil’ Mo: That’s why I’m glad that I get to air it out. It wasn’t that he didn’t give me credit. It was the fact that I didn’t get my percentage on ‘Put It On Me’. Everybody knows that was a big record and I deserved a percentage of it because I’m ASCAP [American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers]. And then bear in mind, my name was listed on the credits, but I didn’t get my percent, which means my check didn’t come through. But I hired the proper litigation team to get my money. That’s it.

AHHA: Do you still harbor any animosity toward him?

Lil’ Mo: I don’t think there’s anymore animosity. Once I left the situation alone, I just left it alone. I believe in—just like [in this story] where the woman was supposed to flee from the city, but she looked back and turned the salt. If I keep on looking back and dealing with that situation, then Im’a look salty then people are just gonna be like, ‘Alright already’. I just left it alone. I mean, God bless his career. All I could say is that I’m doing good. I don’t talk to him anymore. Whatever he gotta do to get food on his table and keep his family in a nice warm place, that’s what he gotta do. But at the end of the day, y’all see in a minute. Im’a be victorious.

AHHA: So you haven’t spoken to Ja since then?

Lil’ Mo: Nah. And there’s nothing else to say. Just like when Jesus banished the devil out of heaven, that was his number one hay dude, like what does he have to say to him? Like, ‘Yo son, you messed up, you ain’t coming back’. I’ve never said anything against [Ja], but hey, I just say God bless him. I’m not gonna wish no bad upon him. I done moved on.

AHHA: Would you speak to him if he approached you or anything like that?

Lil’ Mo: If he said, ‘Hey, Mo, what’s up’, I’d be like, [sucks teeth] ‘Nothing’. I wouldn’t even talk about music with him anymore. That’s not even an issue. I would be like, ‘Hey, how’s the kids, how’s the family?’ if anything. There’s nothing left to say because I don’t believe in holding grudges. I think if you hold grudges, you have to—for some odd reason, that has a piece to do with harm. I believe that everything that you do spitefully against somebody is going to come back on you, so I’m not interested in holding no grudges.

If anybody that’s never disrespected me is in the same vicinity, then I’ll speak first depending on what the situation is. But once you disrespect me… I never speak first. If somebody in my church disrespects me—which people have—I’ll be like, ‘I’m not speaking to you’. I think silence is the best [solution]. Man, when you kill them with kindness, they can’t do nothing but try to be like, ‘Why she mad at me, what’s really good?’

AHHA: Do you think you’re sometimes underrated in this industry? I mean, your voice is a lot stronger than some of these R&B singers out right now.

Lil’ Mo: I don’t believe in paying for my ratings, so I know I’m not underrated, because everywhere I go people show me love. Now as far as sales, I really think that I should have sold more but you are the equivalent of people around you and I just had the wrong people around me at the time. That’s why now I think I’ll do better. As far as ratings, the same people that boost you up to the top are the same people that tear you down. It’s about so high I want to go anyway, because if you look at everybody that’s doing their thing right now, soon as they get nominated for a certain award people don’t think they should get, they’re ready to tear you down. But I’m like, y’all the ones that put them up there.

It’s kind of scary to go over the top with your record sales because look at 50 Cent. Before he came out, [people thought] his mixtape game was crazy. Soon as he sold 10 million albums, now everybody’s like, ‘We hate him, he’s too cocky’. But I’m saying, you put him on a pedestal. What’s wrong with selling records? I never understand why the people that love you so much are the first ones to hate you so much as well. I’d rather be right in the middle where I can remain humble, and where I can still walk around. I get love universally from kids, from adults, from old folks, from people in church, and that feels good to me.

AHHA: What’s to come for Lil’ Mo in the future? Any acting gigs, endorsements, producing?

Lil’ Mo: Nah, if anything I want my own reality show but I want it to be a real show. I’m thinking about adding an addition on to my house. I gotta talk to my association, but Im’a turn it into a studio. I already have a recording studio, but I want a studio where I can film a show. Where I could have a couple of guests, a little small set, and then I’d get somebody to take it and maybe sell it as a DVD, and then I’d get picked up by a major [company], then we get a real studio like maybe CBS or something, whatever it may be. When Oprah retires, [maybe] they’ll let me take over her set.

I’m thinking about getting maybe like a 20-seater little joint, have a couple of people from the ‘hood. See, a lot of people run to the big names, but there be some people that’s coming out of film school, hair school, makeup school, clothing school, fashion school, anything, that’s just hungry and that’s ready, and I think that are ordained to do the job. I think if you could get them while they’re in their growing stages where they’ll do it for little or nothing, all you gotta do is supply the equipment. So that’s my next endeavor. If you want a reality show, you do it yourself and then let the big people come holla at you. Watch, it’s gon’ be hot on the streets.