Lil' Mo : Based On True Story

Gospel-tinged R&B from Missy protege...

After belting out a little beauty on tracks as influential as Ja Rule's 'Put It On Me' and Missy Elliott's 'Hot Boyz', Lil' Mo's debut LP could not have come at a better time.

Despite the disconcerting intro skit featuring a child (presumably Mo herself circa 1983) singing very badly, this 23-year-old Queens native has a voice straight from the alter and a strapping pair of lungs. It's a voice made for gospel - and gospel is the sound that permeates the R&B smooch and hip hop breaks of 'Based On A True Story' (yes, it's autobiographical). The sassy 'Gangsta' sees Mo pledging allegiance to the ghetto - you can take the girl out of the ghetto but you can't take the ghetto out of the girl etc - riding the break of Snoop Dogg's 1994 hit 'Gin & Juice', but the velvet in the vocals keep things calm.

In fact, for someone who's been coined a and Missy Elliott protege (they're close friends and Mo performed at and Missy Elliott's recent London gig), this collection is heavily soulful with only a sprinkling of hiphop's ego. Lyrically, it's the usual formulaic I-always-wanted-to-be-a-superstar and that-man-done-me-wrong stuff, but the musical intimacy on tracks like '2Moro', 'Time After Time' (an enrapturing Cindy Lauper cover) and 'Ta-Da' (which reeks of R Kelly) suggests that Lil' Mo may well outlive her name.

Diana Evans
7 / 10

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