Beats, rhymes and life are three of the corners where hip hop intersects. Few other TV shows have been able to cover all of these angles in-depth and authentically quite like REVOLT’s “Drink Champs,” which thrives on its candid conversations with the biggest and most influential figures in the game. We recap each episode, so you can always catch all the dropped gems.
On the latest episode of “Drink Champs,” N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN sat down with R&B star Lil’ Mo to discuss her career in the music industry, her past personal struggles, and her new music.
Born Cynthia Loving in Long Island, New York, Mo was a military kid and relocated to several other cities during her childhood with her family before settling right outside of Baltimore. After relocating back to New York to break into the music industry, she was discovered by Missy Elliott, who later tapped her to appear on her 1999 single, “Hot Boyz.” Shortly thereafter, Mo embarked on an eminent career and got the opportunity to work with artists such as Ja Rule, JAY-Z, Tupac, and Jermaine Dupri, among many others. She also released a string of solo albums and her debut effort, Based on a True Story, turned 20 last month. In addition to having a successful career in music, Mo also crossed over into media, appearing on TV One’s “R&B Divas,” VH1’s “Love and Hip Hop: New York,” and WEtv’s “Marriage Bootcamp.” The singer also delved into radio, appearing on Washington D.C. stations WKYS and WPGC FM.
Though she admittedly hit rock bock bottom, the “Superwoman” made it through. The singer recently released her latest single, “Shining Star” with T-Pain and Fatman Scoop, and is embarking on a new chapter in her career.
To help give fans a recap, REVOLT compiled a list of nine things we learned from the Lil’ Mo “Drink Champs” episode. Take a look at them below.
Last month, rapper Trick Daddy’s comments during a Clubhouse chat went viral after he said Beyoncé “can’t sing.” Subsequently, the Beyhive swarmed his social media accounts, and left a host of insults and negative reviews on Google for his Miami restaurant. The rapper later appeared on BNC where he defended his comments to host Marc Lamont Hill. When asked about Trick Daddy’s controversial remarks, Mo told N.O.R.E and EFN that she supports Queen Bey.
“It’s the audacity for me,” Mo said. “If you don’t sing, then you don’t have the room to tell who can’t sing. Beyonce is our queen. Us as singers and artists, we have seen her push through since she was 14, 15 rocking heels on the runway with the stilettos to now being a solo artist and a mom. If you don’t like the way she sings, don’t listen—period.”
2. On Not Getting Paid by Murder Inc. for “Put It On Me”
In 2000, Rule released his sophomore effort, Rule 3:36, which featured the track “Put It On Me.” Mo explained during her “Drink Champs” interview that she was later asked by Murder Inc. exec Irv Gotti to add vocals to the song for a new version. Following its release, the single went on to peak at No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts and became the very first video that BET’s “106 & Park” had to retire after topping the countdown for months.
Mo revealed that she was looking forward to the payout for the track, but never received anything. Then, after putting up a fight, she finally received 2.5 percent of the song’s publishing. “I’m thinking this record been out. That check is going to be crazy,” Mo said. “I began to inquire.” She went on to explain that the situation ended up being a learning experience for her in the long run. “The label that I’m with now, The Faculty Music Group, we’re really strict where I can literally have the song in my phone, but until we get the clearances, the splits are agreed and all the paperwork is right, the record won’t hear the light of day,” Mo said. “You never know what song will be out of here.”
3. On Beefing with Ja Rule
Mo’s grievances with Murder Inc. unfortunately didn’t end after not initially getting paid for “Put It On Me.” She told N.O.R.E and EFN that she also didn’t get compensated for promotional concerts and appearances that she did for the label. After she decided to pull out from touring, tension began to mount between her and Rule, which lead to a handful of diss records and a public feud. One famous incident during that era was when Mo shouted out 50 Cent’s G-Unit clique on “106 & Park” after premiering one of Rule’s videos.
“If my memory serves me correctly, I remember we were introducing a video and at the end of whatever it was, I just said, ‘G-Unit,’” Mo said. “I didn’t think they were going to keep it. I thought the mics were off.” But, despite their beef over the years, Mo explained that she ultimately wanted to reconcile with the rapper instead of holding a grudge, mainly because she realized that she couldn’t blame Rule for everything.
“It was a hiatus between [us] talking because it went from us being brother and sister to [just being close] with the people that I know ain’t never do nothing shady,’” Mo said. “I was like, ‘Whatever I said, I apologize because I really didn’t know what was going on.’”
4. On Linking up with Fabolous to Create “Superwoman Pt. II”
After Mo put in the work singing hooks for some of the industry’s most revered artists, she eventually released her own debut album in 2001. The project was anchored by the single, “Superwoman Pt. II” after the original version was shelved by her label at the time. The newer version featured rapper Fabolous and though the Brooklyn emcee made a name for himself in the mixtape circuit, his appearance on Mo’s track was his first introduction to the world on the commercial side.
“I used to be a mixtape head,” Mo said. “I could have had anybody. But, my budget was tapped out. So, [DJ] Clue asked me who [I wanted on] the record. I said, ‘The boy that spells his name on all your records.’ So, he texted him. As soon as I heard his verse and what he said, I was like, ‘You got to be kidding me?!’ Elektra didn’t want to put out the record because they said people wouldn’t know who he was. So, Clue played it on his ‘Monday Night Mixtape’ [show] on Hot 97. After that, the [label] said, ‘Oh my God, this record is a smash!’”
Mo added that she wanted to pay it forward and give Fab a shot after other artists did the same for her. “The way you have longevity in this industry is you put somebody in position, and you keep putting people in position,” she said. “If you do good, good is going to come back.”
5. On Working with Ol’ Dirty Bastard
Mo reflected on working with the late rapper Ol’ Dirty Bastard on “Good Morning Heartache,” which appeared on his 1999 album, Nigga Please. During her interview, she recalled being scared to record with him after witnessing how difficult he could be to work with in the studio. “We recorded that at the Hit Factory, and I was so scared to go in there and sing,” Mo said. “So, [ODB says], ‘Don’t worry about what I do or what anybody else has done before you.’ I did [the song] and…they were like, ‘He loves it.’ And it made the album, so that was actually a dream come true.”
6. On Doing Reality TV
Over the years, we’ve seen numerous examples of musicians who have reinvented themselves to stay relevant and keep a bag coming. Mo revealed on “Drink Champs” that she was aware of the changing times and knew she had to adapt. “I did ‘R&B Divas’ and before that, I realized that music is changing and you might think you lit, but it’s a whole new world out there,” she said. “And reality TV was the wave.”
7. On Appearing on “Marriage Bootcamp”
The rocky trials and tribulations of Mo’s last marriage with ex-husband Karl Dargan were put on display during their appearance on season 14 of “Marriage Bootcamp.” On the show, Mo dealt with his alleged infidelity and also purportedly struggled behind the scenes with all types of abuse. Mo told N.O.R.E. and EFN that she joined the reality show to get herself on track.
“I went there to fix myself,” she said. “I already knew what the fuck was going on, but I needed to face the reality that I was allowing my brand to be compromised and I was allowing my integrity to be comprised. I needed those 28 days to break me down. I was accepting things that I shouldn’t have even allowed to permeate my space. I had to learn to stop making permanent decisions off temporary emotions. So, I took that accountability myself. ‘Marriage Bootcamp’ was an opportunity to get my mental together.”
8. On Her Drug Addiction
In recent years, Mo has been transparent about her drug addiction. During her “Drink Champs” interview, she reflected on what it was like to be addicted to opioids and her experience with experimenting with other drugs including cocaine and ecstasy.
“I didn’t care,” she said. “I was like, ‘I’m in the music industry…I’m a rockstar…everybody else is doing it.’ I don’t understand how I’m still alive. I’ve had situations where I had to be hospitalized. I’ve let myself hit rock bottom.” Mo also talked about what the experience was like to finally break free from her addictions. “I was afraid of going through the withdrawal,” she said. “Because it feels like death. But I asked myself, ‘Do you want to die and be selfish? Or do you want to start from scratch?’”
9. On Her New Single with T-Pain
Mo has weathered the storm and now is getting back to her musical roots with the recent release of her latest track, “Shining Star” with T-Pain. She explained during her interview that instead of trying to chase after today’s sound, she wanted to make the music that’s right for her. “Coming back into this industry, you have to realize the lane you created, and you have to stay in it,” she said. “I’m not trying to compete with these new artists.”
She also explained that she was one of the many artists whose Instagram messages got accidentally ignored by T-Pain because he was unaware of the app’s message request folder. Mo added that while she contacted several artists to link for a feature, she appreciated the fact that T-Pain eventually responded to her and sent his verses back quickly. “I reached out to a couple of artists,” she said. “[T-Pain] was like, ‘I got you.’ He sent it. People don’t do that. I do that. A lot of people don’t have that type of integrity.”