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Lil Mama poster

Lil Mama

Jumping onto the airwaves at 17, Lil Mama cleared a wide path for herself with the major radio hit "Lip Gloss" in early 2007. Raised in both Brooklyn and Harlem, Niatia Kirkland grew up with seven other siblings. She found solace in writing poetry as well as dance choreography. But with the encouragement of her father, who owns the record label Familiar Faces, she knew that being a hip-hop artist could enhance both of those interests. Joining her father's label, she traveled to Atlanta in 2006 to work exclusively with producer James "Groove" Chambers, who helped construct the "Lip Gloss" single. After some ambitious maneuvering to get her music heard, New York's flagship hip-hop/R&B station Hot 97 began playing the record constantly. When Jive Records caught wind of the "lip gloss-poppin'" single, the company quickly scooped her up in January 2007 and made Lil Mama a teen rap sensation all over the East Coast. Moving into spring and summer of that year, her reach began to expand nationally as her impressively choreographed video for the song went into rotation on MTV and BET's 106 & Park. The Jive connection allowed the high-school lyricist to bring in heavy-hitting producers like Scott Storch, Swizz Beatz, and DJ Green Lantern for her Familiar Faces/Jive debut album.