“Everybody’s talking about the same things on the radio – murder, sex and drugs…to hear somebody brag about the jewellery and stuff like that, it’s overrated”, according to 18-year-old New Yorker Lil Mama.
Far from being one to bite the hand that feeds her and take the Dead Prez‘s vehemently a-cultural path, Lil Mama’s leap into the limelight has come off the back of remix appearances on all of last summer’s R&B anthems.
None of this is apparent in Voice of the Young People’s opener Lip Gloss: lyrics such as “my lip gloss is poppin’, my lip gloss is cool, all the boys keep jockin’, they chase me after school” laced over an equally amateur bass line doesn’t bode well. Thankfully One Hit Wonder’s DJ Khaled crunk beat kicks-in with typical infectiousness. It’s brash, bold and mature – with more than a passing resemblance in sound and delivery to Lil Kim.
Surprisingly the tempo is maintained with T-Pain testing his production skills on Shawty Get Loose. Stretching YouTube’s bandwidth to their limits the album’s lead single explains the hype, and the industry’s respect – including an onstage appearance at the BET Awards with our very own Dizzee Rascal. You can then forgive the hypnotic arrogance of What It Is (Strike a Pose), and the suggestive lyrics: T-Pain’s synthetic toned-down Lil-Jon-esque interjections even add to the quality.
Alas, it’s not all good news – G-Slide rivals Soulja Boy‘s Crank That in terms of annoyance value , expect this and the accompanying video to be everywhere in the summer months. You’ve been warned. Strangely it underlines the glossy hip-pop that precedes Stand Up, a sombre melodic autobiographical tale. Blending spoken word and rapidly delivered rhymes complements this ode to education which is continued in College.
Broken Pieces is a knock-out track – any TLC fan who hears this will find new hope for someone to fill their void. Although it’s lyrically uncomplicated its jazz-funk beat and Lil Mama’s perfectly executed rapping fuse to produce a real gem of a song. Voice Of The Young People then plateaus, perhaps a suggestion that 19 tracks was five too many.
You could equally say the album was allowed to peak too soon, but either way let it take nothing from the fact that this is a refreshing and extremely promising debut effort. Every bit as promising as Ciara when she arrived on the scene but where is she now?
What isn’t in doubt is that there’s an artist in Lil Mama, a young female in hip-hop with a positive philosophy. Ignore the hip-pop pigeon-holing – there’s depth in Lil Mama that just needs to be coaxed out.