by Rachel Swan
A seventeen-year-old twiggy Brooklynite recently took commercial radio by storm with what has to be the girliest rap song since L'Trimm's "Cars That Go Boom ." Lil' Mama 's brilliantly spare, infectiously percussive new single "Lip Gloss" has the nyah-nyah cadence of a double dutch chant: Whachu know about me, whachu whachu know 'bout me? Whachu know 'bout me, whachu whachu know 'bout me? They say my lip gloss is cool, my lip gloss be poppin'/I'm standing at my locker, and all the boys keep stoppin'. The beat, which combines a boom-chuck sound - presumably of hubcaps being banged against locker doors - with a repetitive clap-clap rhythm sounds uncannily like the drumline rhythm that worked so well in Gwen Stefani's "Holla Back Girl." But tiny, big-eyed rapper Lil' Momma conveys a kind of girlish innocence that would be impossible for Gwen Stefani to shore up this late in her career - she's a fashionable bad girl whose main exploits happen in the hallway of a New York public high school, with most of her senior class watching. Fittingly, the video for "Lip Gloss" - which includes a hot a cappella section in which Momma raps while the ensemble claps a syncopated pattycake rhythm - features all the visual cues of a high school coming-of-age story. It opens with a dowdy-looking Lil' Momma complaining to her fairy godmother that she'll never be part of the cool crowd, at which point the elder Momma bequeaths a magical talisman in the form of bubblegum lip gloss. There's an implied abracadabra as Lil' Momma applies the shimmery goo, and ... presto! She reappears with trendy hoop earrings, a purple hooded sweatshirt, and a superfly weave. In the end, Lil' Momma returns to the fairy godmother, who assures, predictably, that the magic was inside her all along.
At this point, Lil' Momma is pretty much just rocking the same song over and over again - even the "hard" track on her MySpace sampler doesn't sound all that hard, since it features lyrics about how she manages to look good with no makeup. But now that dorkiness is starting to make a comeback in rap music, her gossipy double-dutch rhymes might stand a chance. And if the emcee's main goal is to get all the boys at her school to utter her name as though it were some new kind of hyphy energy drink, then hey, she's got it made.