Entertainment August 3, 2017
Here's what happened after her rise and fall.
You might know rapper Lil Mama as the person who sang “Lip Gloss,” but did you know her real name is Niatia Jessica Kirkland?
There’s more to this woman than the song that launched her into stardom.
Need proof? Here are five facts you need to know about Lil Mama.
Lil Mama told Complex the birth of “Lip Gloss” started while she was rapping with a girl friend on Lenox Avenue in New York. She bumped into a guy who said he was with the Ruff Ryders, and he ended up introducing her to Ali Samii, a former road manager for DMX. In 2006, Lil Mama flew to Atlanta with Samii, which is when they created “Lip Gloss.”
“I was in high school,” Lil Mama told Complex. “My whole thing was lip gloss. Next you know, it was a hit, and I’m sending all types of stocks up. I’m talking MAC, L’Oreal. It had a big impact on a generation.”
The rapper was only 17 years old when the song broke on Hot 97 and she signed with Jive. But once her second single, “G-Slide,” from her debut album, “VYP – Voice of the Young People,” came out, it was a flop.
She told Complex that the fame hit her quick and fast, and she wasn’t prepared for the change. “I was very excited at the moment I was signing…[but] I wasn’t aware of everything that was coming with it,” Lil Mama said.
“Lip Gloss” hit no. 10 on Billboard’s Hot 100, but “VYP’s” release didn’t earn the praise she expected it to. People had moved on.
Her career peaked at “Lip Gloss.”
She was on the show from its first season in 2008 to the seventh season in 2012. She also managed to stir up a lot of controversy during her time as a judge.
During dance crew Vogue Evolution’s performance in the fourth episode of season four, Lil Mama called out dancer and transgender woman Leiomy for acting out during the crew’s rehearsal performance. During her review, she mentioned Leiomy’s gender orientation and how she needs to act more like a lady. She said:
“Leiomy, come on. Your behavior … it’s unacceptable. I just feel that you always have to remember your truth. You were born a man and you are becoming a woman. If you’re going to become a woman, act like a lady. Don’t be a bird, like ‘Oh my god, I’m not doing this!’ You know what I’m saying? It gets too crazy and it gets confusing. You’re doing this for America. Even though you’re the face for transgenders, you’re the face of America right now with this group and it’s not about anybody else. It’s about y’all. You know what I’m saying? So do it for the team. Do it for the team.”
GLAAD, an organization working to create equality for the LGBT community in the media, reported that they received complaints from constituents about Lil Mama’s comments.
Lil Mama told Complex, however, that she fit into the world of dance while judging for ABDC. But since then, she’s also realized the effects of her words.
“I think about some of the things I said on the show, and how it affected people. It was a learning experience,” Lil Mama said. “You don’t have to hurt people to help them.”
“Lip Gloss” was certified gold by the RIAA in 2008. She also received an award for Choice Summer Song at the 2007 Teen Choice Awards. Then the following year, the rapper won the Choice Rap/Hip Hop Track award at the 2008 Teen Choice Awards. She was also featured on Dr. Luke’s remix of “Girlfriend” by Avril Lavigne.
She also reportedly made $1.75 million for her song “Billionaire,” $1.5 million for “Hustler Girl,” a million dollars for “Shawty Get Loose” and $785 thousand for “Lip Gloss.”
Outside of music, she had her TV gigs. Along with being a judge on “America’s Best Dance Crew,” she played Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes in the 2013 TV film “CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story,” a film centered around the R&B and hip hop group, TLC.
After JAY-Z and Keys finished their performance of “Empire State of Mind,” Lil Mama ran onto the stage to pose with the duo. When she got on stage, JAY-Z tapped her on the leg telling her to leave.
That moment pretty much ruined Lil Mama’s career because people stopped taking her seriously.
Even when she apologized for the stunt, JAY-Z ignored her apology and called the incident “outta line.”
She was then turned into a meme. Twitter blew up over it and started the trending hashtag #littlemamais, a meme where people compared Lil Mama to people or things that interrupt major performances or events.
She told Complex the situation made her stronger. When no one stood up for her, she realized this business was just a business.
The rapper was also blackballed by the industry. Lil Mama explained people didn’t want to take a chance on her in case it made JAY-Z and Keys choose not to work with them.
Down the road, the situation got dark and it messed with her mental health.
“It hurt,” she said. “It took a lot of mental strength, spiritual strength and physical strength not to want to hurt others, not to want to hurt myself. A person could be damn near suicidal.”
Fortunately, filming the TLC biopic changed everything around for her.
The rapper will be starring in the TV film “When Love Kills: The Falicia Blakely Story.” Based on a true story, Lil Mama will be playing Falicia Blakely, a 16-year-old mom who is pulled into a world of crime and danger by her boyfriend.
Director Tasha Smith admitted Lil Mama was not her first choice for the lead role, but TV One already cast the rapper.
But, when the actress asked Smith if she would have cast her for the role, Smith was honest with her. “Lil Mama asked me, ‘Would you have cast me?’ and I told her, ‘Never.’ But she made me a believer,” Smith told PageSix.
The movie is set to premier Aug. 28 on TV One.
While it seems like Lil Mama’s career has taken a series of high ups and terrible downs, she clearly hasn’t let anything keep her down.
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