Lil' Mo

Based on a True Story

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On her long-awaited debut, Lil' Mo shows why stars like Jay-Z, Ja Rule, and Keith Sweat were so anxious to feature her on their own albums. The Big Apple rapper and singer is a protégé of Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliot, but where Elliot's game is cutting lines and cutting-edge hip-hop, Lil' Mo is a lil' more subtle, preferring to tap into her roots in old-fashioned gospel and R&B. That's not to say this album lacks the requisite up-tempo club thumpers -- "Gangsta" and "Superwoman, Pt. 2" certainly fill that bill. It's just that when things mellow out a bit, Mo really shines -- on sweet slow jams like "How Many Times," or on the stunning, bitter kiss-off, "Ta Da." Probably the best reference point for Lil' Mo's winning blend of street smarts and classic soul divaship is Mary J. Blige, and Based on a True Story suggests that Blige could have some serious competition in the years to come.

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