Lil Mo vs. Cynthia Loving – Straight, No Chaser

Lil Mo emerged on the music scene in the late 90’s lending her voice to hits like, “Hot Boyz” by Missy Elliott, “Put It On Me” and “I Cry” both by Ja Rule. Still it was her breakout single, the 2001 “Superwoman pt. II” that helped solidify her name is music circles. The Fabolous assisted song led to the release of her debut album, Based On A True Story, garnering her tons of fans. With her success came the drama however, including an incident in San Francisco where she was attacked with a bottle of champagne and required 20 stitches. There also came industry beefs with some of the same people she found early success with, most notably Ja Rule.

In spite of the drama, and the multiple label issues, Mo went on to release three more albums since 2001. In recent years she’s also put out two additional mixtapes, and joined the cast of the popular reality show franchise R&B Divas L.A, where she keeps viewers talking. With the reminder to fans of why they loved her so much, Mo has used the renewed interest to release her 5th album, The Scarlet Letter and her first book, a tell-all biography titled, Taming Lil’ Mo. Both released this past month, Mo is right where she wants to be, in control and in a position to show those that doubted her, that lighting can strike twice, but not by accident.

Lil Mo We caught up with Lil’ Mo in New York City, where she was on a whirlwind press day, but she opened up to us about her album, the book and R&B Divas. From recording for the first time in her career in Los Angeles, to her first single, “Should’ve Never Let You Go,” there was a lot of catching up to do. Check out our full conversation with Lil’ Mo. Straight, no chaser…

Parlé Magazine: Let’s start off with the album and get right to it. The title, Scarlett Letter, why’d you decide to go with that?
Lil Mo: I decided to name it that because number one, every one done read the book when they was in high school, let’s be real. It’s about the woman who had a lot on her mind. The album deals with a lot of stuff that I had going on that you didn’t get to see on R&B Divas LA. I had a lot of explaining to do about my hiatus since my last commercial release, which has been years. I know that I’m not without sin, I know I’m not perfect but so much of my career was based around this perfect persona, like all I do is sing all day and just be happy and be married and all the good things. Now you get to see the good, the bad and the ugly. And I get to sing about it. These are 10 songs defining all the things I’ve dealt with the last couple of years.

Parlé: The first single off the project is “Should’ve Never Let You Go,” talk to me about what that track means.

Lil Mo:  Well, let’s just be real, hoes is winning and the reason being, social media is doing a great job of keeping us abreast on all these things going on in life. People saying things like, I used to be with him way back when, so it seems like people are making their ex man a better man for someone else. It’s just like sometimes you sitting around cleaning out your icloud cause you don’t want nothing to get leaked and you see pictures and you see your old boo and he got signed… (laughs). But you see that one person you let get away, or you might be that person they let get away. And you say, ‘maybe I should’ve hung in there.’ What’s her name that’s married to Wiz Khalifa? Amber Rose, maybe she shouldn’t have filed for divorce, everybody cheats, now the boy done dyed his hair purple and stuff. I know I’m a should’ve never let you go for a lot of people, but such is life, we all have that path that we have to take, it’s not one of perfection but its your life, your steps are ordered and you just realize. I ain’t never regret nothing, I live life to the fullest, I turn up when need be. I’m always myself. But sometimes when you lay back, you think, maybe it wasn’t that serious, maybe I should’ve hung in there.

Parlé:  I know you recorded this whole project in L.A., which was a bit of a different experience for you. What was the creative process like out in L.A.?
Lil Mo:  The L.A. vibe is totally different than the East coast vibe. Its just that a lot of things are popping off in L.A. right now because its so fast-paced, but if you can make it in New York you can make it anywhere. But L.A. is a place like if you can get in one studio and work with some people that are popping, because everybody out there is doing something, everybody is producing, everybody is writing, everybody is getting on a show, everybody is working on a mixtape, everybody is doing something, so just to get in that mix is like the who’s who and the what’s what. So even if you don’t hear someone’s name and you don’t think they popping, they working with everybody. Once I hit L.A. I had to hit the ground running because I hadn’t been to the studio since, wow, and the only person I had been working with for the past 6 years was my ex. It was almost like starting from scratch. It was basically trying to get back in the swing of things because so much has changed technology wise. You can record a song now and put it out that same night with the right connections. You could do that back in the day, but it might not sell. I used all youngings for the album, the oldest person that probably worked on it was 31. If “Superwoman” is 14 years old, that means they were a teen when that song came out. They were people that respected me as an artist and just wanted to get it in, I didn’t have to go through, “make sure you go through this person,” or “holla at this person.” There was no middle man involved. Initially I was just going to do a single, “Just Not That Into You,” but we decided to do a whole album. I’m glad that opportunity presented itself as well.

Parlé:  You’ve been in the industry a long time, now you at 5 albums, got a couple mixtapes in there as well. How do you feel about your longevity and the fans that have been riding throughout and still know the words to those early singles.

Lil Mo:  They be messing those words up too… (laughs). Its like funny to hear people’s renditions of anything I put out. It just feels good that whenever they hear an intro to a song, once they hear that its all about the reactions. “That’s my song!” For men to say that, like everyone wants that “Superwoman.”  For people to still have that same reaction that’s a long time. Those songs are older than my children. To have anyone rock with you past your first single, your first album is a blessing, because this industry is a lot of here today, gone tomorrow.

Parlé:  Let’s transition the conversation to R&B Divas L.A. How’d you get involved and what made you want to get involved in the reality show?

Lil Mo:  Initially when I got the call to do R&B Divas I had gotten the call from Coco from SWV. She was like I got a call, I believe it was from Syleena and Nicci at the time, they want to do this show about R&B singers and how we balance motherhood, being entertainers and how we balance it all. I was like she lives in Virginia, I live in Baltimore, Syleena in Chicago, Nicci in either California or Atlanta, I believe Kelly Price was in talks for it too. But once they started branding it differently with Atlanta, I was like I guess I didn’t make the cut, I didn’t get a call back. I didn’t think nothing of it, but then I got a call from Phil Thornton, one of the executive producers and he was like, “Are you interested in R&B Divas? We’re going to do an L.A. edition.” I was like cool, and when he told me the gist of it, I thought it would be pretty cool. I did my interview over the phone and literally I got the job over the phone, I guess they were so enthralled by my speaking voice, I don’t know what it was. I was just like it’s another opportunity I needed, I needed that platform because out of sight, out of mind. I hadn’t been out for a while and it was like, what can I do to resurface. Ultimately I always wanted to be on TV. You can’t just come back and think everyone is gonna care. Now we going into season 3, so obviously I’m doing something right, because some people get 2 episodes and that’s it! And that’s no shade. I learned how to be captivating from radio. You have 15 seconds to catch people’s attention.

Parlé:  What other opportunities has being on the show afforded you?
Lil Mo:  I got a movie role.  I did Lil’ Orphan Arnold on Black Dynamite on Cartoon Network. They said when they heard me curse out Dawn on Season 1, they knew I was the right one. I was like, so ya’ll chose me cause I curse? They said no, it was the inflection in my voice. So after that I kept cursing because I figured maybe I’ll get more work. As an artist sometimes you gotta pay to get into these doors, but because of this show I been able to get in.

Parlé:  Did you have any concerns before the show about the way you might be represented?
Lil Mo:  No, because if I did, I wouldn’t have done it. I never listen to the outside voices either, people were like you shouldn’t do that because its one step above Unsung, but I’m like bitch at least I’m on TV. A lot of people have their own opinion, but I’m like let me know what show you on, then we can talk. There’s a lot of people that’s not on tv that want to tell you what they would do if they were on. You know how many shows is sitting on the shelf right now. Sit!  At the end of the day, this is a choice I made, not just for me, but for my family because I brought my kids on the show, I brought my mom on the show. So I didn’t have any concerns, I just wanted to make sure I stuck to my script. No regrets here.

Parlé:  The book, Taming Lil’ Mo, talk to me about why you wanted to release that now?

Lil Mo:  It’s actually piggybacking off of R&B Divas season one, the Diva logs, Cynthia versus Lil’ Mo. I’m not crazy, but there’s a big battle between the two wanting to do right versus wanting to do what’s hot right now. Wanting to curse somebody out versus you gotta be politically correct. Wanting to turn up versus wanting to sing at church rhe next day. Wanting to curse this artist out but then realizing these are my coworkers so I gotta keep it cute. My imperfects to my chemical imbalance within make for the perfect internal battle within. I’m Cynthia but I’ve created Lil’ Mo and I have to stay true to this character I created that the world loves. But I have to give you both. There’s so many me’s, but I gotta give you both and not be crazy. That’s why I never understand when people get caught up, what are you caught up in? Yourself? That bubble is going to burst. So its like I might as well come to grips and talk about the 15 years that I been Lil’ Mo. Everyone thinks they know what happened in San Francisco, 3 days before my album came out when I was assaulted. Everyone thinks they know how I met Fab. Everyone wants to know how I met Missy Elliott, when I dropped out of beauty school. Or what happened with me and Ja Rule. Ain’t no sense of being on the show and not having no product, cause I ain’t selling no coochie!  (Laughs)

Parlé:  Do you plan on putting out any other books?

Lil Mo:  Yeah, its a different side. Writing this, it took a lot of me.

Parlé:  People who tune into the show, but may not have been fans, what do you hope they get from seeing you, or listening to the new album and reading the book?

Lil Mo:  What I want everyone to get from everything is get to know me. A lot of people think they know and they assume certain things, but you don’t have to assume anymore. I have no problem being an open book, I have no problem writing a book, I have no problem writing an album. You see an instagram post and you assume, but you can get it from me, I have no reason to lie, I have nothing to hide, I will give it to you straight, no chaser. I am someone who keeps it all the way real!

 

Lil Mo surely has an amazing sense of humor and she was a pleasure to talk to. It’s no wonder she is finding so much success at this point in her career.  October was a great month for Mo.  In addtion to the album and the book, she also appeared in her first movie role alongside Marvin Sapp.  Who Can I Run To made it’s BET premiere on October 18th. There’s a lot more to come from Mo, but in the mean time, support her by picking up the book and the album!   

 

Be sure to catch up with Lil Mo online at http://www.thelilmoshow.com.  

Also on twitter @thelilmoshow

Images by Melvin Johnson for Parlé Magazine


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Kevin Benoit

Kevin Benoit graduated from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 2007 with a Bachelors of Science in Legal Studies. Empowering the urban community has been a goal for Kevin Benoit for the past 8 years. As a freshman in college, in May of 2004, Benoit created Parlé Magazine, an urban entertainment magazine that focused on literacy through entertainment. The publication has since provided a stepping-stone for many individuals throughout the country, from teens to adults and continues to provide inspiration for inspiring entrepreneurs, writers, photographers and graphic designers. Read more articles by Kevin.

Kevin Benoit has 271 posts and counting. See all posts by Kevin Benoit

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