Niatia Jessica Kirkland, popularly known as Lil Mama in the music industry, is an American rapper, actress, songwriter, and a dancer. The hip-hop recording artist is also a much-known face on television as she had been part of the judges’ panel for the American competitive dance reality television series ‘America's Best Dance Crew’ for the seven seasons. Lil Mama’s debut album ‘VYP (Voice of the Young People)’ featured on the Billboard 200 chart, peaking at number 25, with several of her hit singles getting thousands of views online. The two-time BET Award for Best Female Hip-Hop Artist nominee has also worked with several popular singers and musicians over the years, including the likes of Chris Brown, T-Pain, Mishon Ratliff, and Avril Lavigne. She has appeared in two biopics, ‘CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story’ and ‘When Love Kills: The Falicia Blakely Story’ as well. Among her several top singles, ‘Shawty Get Loose’ featuring Chris Brown and T-Pain is one of the most successful and popular ones till date.
Lil Mama came from a financially underprivileged family and is the eldest daughter in her household. Life was not easy for her in the beginning and she sought solace in poetry and dancing. She used to write poems that reflected the hardships she had to deal with. This formed the foundation for her later career as a rapper.
After signing a contract with Jive Records in late 2006, she appeared alongside Avril Lavigne in her video song titled ‘Girlfriend’. In 2008, Lil Mama released her first studio album ‘VYP (Voice of the Young People)’ under the Jive Records Label. The album debuted at number 25 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart and has sold over 66,000 copies in the United States only. She received three-star ratings from Rolling Stone and US Weekly and three and a half stars from AllMusic. The studio album was ranked 5th and 3rd on the U.S. Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and the U.S. Top Rap Albums chart respectively.
Lil Mama has worked with several popular artists since her debut album was released. Some of her hit singles include ‘On & On & On’ and ‘NYNYLALA’ featuring Snoop Dogg and ‘Dough Boy’ featuring Mishon. She later performed the song ‘Empire State of Mind’ alongside Jay-Z and Alicia Keys at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. However, that was an impromptu performance as she jumped on to the stage and just started bobbing her head to the beats! She later clarified that she didn’t mean to disrespect Jay-Z and that she is a huge fan of his.
After the disbanding of Arista Records, Jive Records, and J Records from the RCA Music Group, it was clarified that in the future all business will be conducted directly by RCA Records for Lil Mama.
Lil Mama has also appeared on the judges’ panel for ‘America's Best Dance Crew’, an American competitive dance reality television series created by Howard Schwartz and Karen Schwartz. She played the role of ‘Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes’ in ‘CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story’, a 2013 television biographical film about the R&B and hip-hop musical trio TLC.
In 2015, Lil Mama released her music video ‘Sausage’ which had several themes including the “Sausage” movement on Vine, Caribbean love, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The song immediately went viral and reached over three million views in no time. It also topped the Billboard Music + Twitter charts.
You May Like
Continue Reading Below
Lil Mama was born in Harlem, New York City on October 4, 1989, as the third child in a family of eight siblings. She has two elder brothers and five younger siblings. She attended Edward R. Murrow High School during her childhood. Being the eldest daughter of the family she got the nickname of Lil Mama. Her childhood was spent in poverty. More difficulties followed when she lost her mother on December 15, 2007, due to breast cancer.
She was listed as one of the speakers for ‘Women, Wealth and Relationships’, an event sponsored by BET and the Hip Hop Sisters Network, which also had Shanice and Elise Neal among other speakers. The event was all about empowering and supporting black women on issues related to career, financial stability, family, and men.