Lil' Mo is short in stature, not even hitting five feet in height, but there's nothing little about her drive, heart, or talent. Born Cynthia Loving, she was raised on Long Island but suffered frequent moves as the family followed her dad through the course of his military career transfers. The lack of permanent roots didn't keep her from knowing exactly where she wanted to end up: Manhattan. She wanted to make her mark there by becoming an entertainer, and she set her course for a way to get what she wanted. Wherever the family happened to be living, she competed in talent competitions. Later, with a contract in hand, she had to stand her ground when record company executives wanted to force a certain look on her, rather than allow her to sport the rainbow braids that have become something of a trademark for the singer. Once that particular battle was fought and won, she endured two years of anxiety as she waited for her debut to be released. The waiting was perhaps the hardest, and it brought Lil' Mo to the point where she was considering a switch to simply songwriting, rather than singing and performing. Thanks to the intervention of heavyweights such as Snoop Dogg and Jay-Z, however, she stuck it out. The welcome she received from the public and the community of music artists made the long wait worth her while. Lil' Mo's 2001 debut album, Based on a True Story, was a success. The singer penned every track but one, "Time After Time," which was originally recorded by another rainbow-haired crooner, Cyndi Lauper. Lil' Mo has collaborated on "Hot Boyz" with Missy Elliott, and Elliott subsequently became a trusted advisor and friend. Lil' Mo also collaborated with Ja Rule on his "Put It on Me," and is featured on "Parking Lot Pimping" by Jay-Z. She has performed with, or written songs for, a long list of artists that includes Blackstreet, Next, Lil' Bow Wow, Keith Sweat, 3LW, and ODB.
Unfortunately, not everyone was as thrilled with Lil' Mo's success as she and her friends and collaborators were. Just before her debut was set to hit record store shelves in the summer of 2001, a man attacked the singer in San Francisco just outside the Warfield, a theater where she had just finished a performance. He used a champagne bottle to club the singer's head, and Lil' Mo ended up with almost two dozen stitches. A majority of the publicity appearances scheduled for the following month, which had been specially timed to coincide with the release of her debut, had to be canceled until she regained her health. Despite the aftereffects she suffered, the singer persevered and continued to sing and write. Months later, Lil' Mo started working on air at Baltimore's radio station WXYV, where she remained until leaving in June of 2002 to devote more time to her career. The next year, Lil' Mo prepped for the release of Meet the Girl Next Door. She wrote every song on the album except for one; the first single, a duet with rapper Fabolous, "4Ever" was a springtime smash. ~ Linda Seida