The self-proclaimed “Voice of the Young People”Â may be small, but she packs a whole lot of punch. Lil’ Mama, or “The Birth of Hip-Pop”Â as she refers to herself, has gone through a whirlwind of changes aside from puberty. Within the last year, she’s experienced everything from topping charts to the death of her mother. She’s maintained her composure through it all by delving into various projects and leaning on her family and fans for support. She recently spoke with Rap-Up.com to dish about what she thinks of her record label, the role model status of Lil Wayne, and registering to vote.
Are you excited about judging again on the second season of MTV’s “America’s Best Dance Crew”Â?
I’m very excited; I’m always excited about everything that I do. It’s so fun for me [and] it’s a new experience compared to what I would have been doing. It’s definitely a whole other walk of life.
Do you ever feel like you are being too harsh when you critique people?
Nah. I mean this is a competition that everybody is fighting for; you have people at home that want your spot. Just like me, I have people that want my spot. If everybody keeps going, “Oh, Lil’ Mama you’re so great,”Â I’ll never get better. But if I hear, “Lil’ Mama, that performance was weak, bring it up,”Â I would have to take that. It’s not that they’re being harsh, they’re being honest.
How was it making the video for “What It Is (Strike a Pose)”Â featuring T-Pain, which you premiered on MTV’s “FNMTV”?
It was real fun. Whenever I shoot at home in New York and I got my family supporting me [and] dancers come through, it’s always good because I get a chance to vibe out and it’s not fake. It’s just me being myself and having a lot of fun. T-Pain came through and we did our thing.
Were you disappointed with the sales of your debut album, VYP: Voice of the Young People?
Definitely not. I’m very disappointed in my label, Jive Records, for not promoting my record properly. I’m not a rapper first and foremost. I’m the birth of hip-pop. I’m an innovator and everything that I do is fresh. When you have something so new and fresh in your hands, you’re supposed to know what to do with it. By signing with a label, I signed knowing that everyone was on the same page as me and understanding what was going on. But that wasn’t what I thought it was.
You recently remixed Lil Wayne’s “A Milli.”Â What kind of response did you get?
Everybody loves it. It’s raw. It’s Mama.
Are you a fan of Lil Wayne?
Sure. I wouldn’t say a fan, I’d rather say he’s a role model. He’s a person that was an underdog and wasn’t respected for his craft and now is definitely a rider. I’m very proud for him. But it made me angry with a lot of people on the outside that just will ride with what somebody else says. Like, “Oh, he’s hot. Yeah, he is hot now.”Â No, he been hot!
So Wayne said that you’re one of his favorite new rappers. How does that make you feel to get a compliment like that from him?
I feel great because I know he’s probably looking at me like, “Wow, I see myself in this young girl. She’s coming from the bottom and it’s like the same story.”Â For him to be able to acknowledge that shows that he’s a real person. Real recognize real.
Is there anyone in the industry under the age of 25 that you would like to collaborate with?
There’s nobody under 25 out there that I know of that’s really talented. It’s a few of us. I worked with Chris [Brown] and T-Pain on “Shawty Get Loose”Â and it was a crazy song. “What It Is”Â is hot but when it comes to being the best songs on my album, those are not the best songs on my album.
Have you splurged on anything expensive since you’ve been famous?
I never was like that. Being broke, I didn’t really get the Pradas. Gucci? Nope, couldn’t get that. I was shopping in Rainbow and Payless. It didn’t matter where I went. I got what I needed and I always ended up looking better than the person that had all that.
You’re 18. Are you registered to vote?
I’mma be honest, I ain’t register yet. I’m definitely going to register.
How important is voting to you?
Very important. It’s time for a difference and this is my first year being able to vote and I know a lot of people who had the opportunity but didn’t take advantage of it. Now is the time.
Have you been following the election?
Not really. I just know that I have my personal feelings and politically speaking, I couldn’t really tell you because I would sound ignorant. I feel that Bush should definitely close out this war because when you’re a leader for a certain time frame [you should] bring closure to something you have started.