Lil' Mo: Pain & Paper

Unless you were in the “know” in the music industry, you were probably surprised that Lil’ Mo had a new album coming out—or you simply lost interest years ago. After years of her legal battles making more headlines than her music, Lil’ Mo has returned with Pain & Paper (Honeychild/Koch). It’s hard not to feel excited for Mo, because despite her struggles, in most circles one thing is still the general consensus—the girl can write hits. Unfortunately, you won’t find any on this album. Pain & Paper sends the listener to a land where being wordy is valued over being concise. The trouble is that most of the songs sound less intriguing and more like stories from your best friend who rambles on about their problems, until you find an excuse to hang up the phone. In cases where most people find it difficult to be wordy yet simple at the same time, Lil’ Mo accomplishes this perfectly. Her first single “Sumtimes I” finds Mo lamenting on leaving a faulty relationship. The appearance by Jim Jones adds absolutely nothing to this song, as do the guest appearances on the other tracks. Perhaps the most disappointing of the guests is Fabolous on “Sumtimes I (Pt.2).” It was hard not to look forward to this song with some excitement, considering the collaborative hits these two brought us in the past. Sadly, this song sees them reunite; yet a fire fails to reignite.Is there any good news to report about Pain & Paper? Happily, the answer is yes. The pleasantly bouncy track “How Can I Tell” is a success as well as “Official Hollywood,” which sees Mo singing about the glamorous life alongside rap verses contributed by none other than funny man Katt Williams. The heartfelt ballad “Dotted I,” discusses Lil Mo accepting her imperfections, while acknowledging that the only perfection lies in a Higher Power.It’s disappointing to fathom that Pain & Paper produces minimal growth from the woman who brought us such hood classics like “Superwoman.” While each song appears to say something, most listeners will probably hear nothing. There is little intrinsically deep about Pain & Paper; it has no soul. While it can be assumed that Lil’ Mo’s experiences should inspire life-changing music, maybe her new label put the ax on that. Perhaps next time – more pain, less paper.