Lil Mama, "VYP — Voice of the Young People" (Jive/Zomba)
Given the topic of her popular debut single, "Lip Gloss," it'd be easy to write off New York rapper/singer Lil Mama as a disposable hip-pop act. With shout-outs to MAC and L'Oreal, she rhymed for the female tween set: "My lip gloss is poppin'/ My lip gloss is cool/ All the boys keep jockin'/ they chase me after school." However on her album, "VYP — Voice of the Young People," you have to give Lil Mama some credit for having a fair amount of self-awareness.
On "One Hit Wonder," which immediately follows "Lip Gloss" on the CD, she attempts to quash her flash-in-the-pan status. Over frantic drum kicks and quasi-soca beat, she explains: "A one-hit wonder/ a one-hit please/ once I hit em, one they gon need/ a plan to catch up wit me/ I'm going straight to the top/ oh-OH-oh."
On the disc, Lil Mama's sights are set on three main things — making her home city proud, setting ablaze the dance floor (Scott Storch, The Runners and Cool and Dre produce tracks) and role-modeling for young girls (she doesn't curse). She does all three admirably well. "Shawty Get Loose" with Chris Brown and T-Pain treads similar sonic terrain as Brown's hit "Kiss Kiss." Meanwhile, the foot-stomping "Make It Hot" features what sounds like an electric kazoo and plenty of Mama's Brooklyn/Harlem sass. But the achy-breaky, pop-soul singing of "Broken Pieces" and the rousing, hard knock tale "L.I.F.E." are songs that ultimately show Mama's surprising range. Her lip gloss may be poppin', but her she's got more to say than that.
CHECK OUT: Channeling Mary J Blige's messages of female empowerment and Beanie Sigel's odes to troubled youth, Lil Mama's "L.I.F.E." is ultimately a hopeful take on her inner-city ascendancy.