You wouldn’t be able to tell on first glance that Lil’ Mama has a vulnerable side, but like most female rappers in this industry, she’s developed tough skin. This Harlem-ite isn’t invincible, and when it comes to talking about her mother, who passed away from breast cancer in 2007, she shows a side of her that is otherwise hidden.
ESSENCE.com talks to Lil’ Mama about what her mother means to her, Breast Cancer Awareness month, and the projects that she’s working on.
ESSENCE.com: Your mother passed in 2007, what’s your fondest memory of her?
LIL MAMA: The memory I recall the most about her was her love of music and singing. Sometimes I speak to my grandfather on the phone and he’ll always share a memory with me of when she was sitting down with me somewhere and would just randomly pop out and say ‘I’m a singer!’ He said it just cracked him up because my mother’s father always loved music, he always loved to sing, and he never pushed it on any of his children. And for my mother to love singing so much it really made him happy. So to see my mom struggle, and always see her sing, and fight through her pain, it made me very happy because she’s the person actually dealing with the struggle. For her to be the one going through it, and to actually show happiness, was what I remember the most about her. My mother really inspired me to sing.
ESSENCE.com: How important is this Breast Cancer Awareness Month to you?
LIL MAMA: This month is very important to me, and I’m actually just wetting my feet because for the past three years I’ve been really sad over losing my mom and I haven’t really stood up to do something about it. And to help other people who are still fighting. I’ve actually met two women in the same week a few months who shared their testimony with me. One actually beat cancer and another woman told me she knew who I was because she was in chemotherapy watching me on television with her daughter. And I thought, ‘wow’ that’s a testimony to me to meet two women with daughters who’s mother is fighting breast cancer like myself. That let’s me know that I need to use my voice and get involved. So this month I’m encouraging them to donate to research of finding a cure and I’ve been looking into starting my own foundation one day.
ESSENCE.com: On a personal level, how have you been dealing with it over the years?
LIL MAMA: I definitely deal with it every day. I recently came back to Brooklyn to see my family. I was so happy to see my dad and my siblings. Then I went to lay down and picked up the phone to call my mom, and realized that’ something I can’t do, so it really hurts. But you know, it’s not just the month of October, it’s the entire year that I’m dealing with missing her. It’s a blessing to have had her in my life for as long as I did. It’s really tough to become a teenager without your mom, let alone a woman. It’s not easy.
ESSENCE.com: You just had a new single with Snoop Dogg, “NY, NY, LA, LA,” what else have you been up to?
LIL MAMA: Yes, I’ve been working on my music lately. It was really fun working on that record, and the next single I’m pushing right now is called “Hustler Girl” and it’s dedicated to to all women who are putting out everyday efforts. All of the women that hustle on a day to day basis to make things better for their families. I performed it at the Black Girls Rock and Soul Tour. It’s been received really well by people, and I think it’s going to be a really good record by the power of God and the power of women all over the world who can connect.
ESSENCE.com: If you had to pick your top three people to work with now, who would you choose?
LIL MAMA: The top three people that I would love to do a song with right now is Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, and Missy Elliot.