Taking a break on Monday from a shoot for the second season of her BET reality show, "Tiny & Toya," T.I.'s fiancée, Tameka "Tiny" Cottle, talked up her latest project, a girl group called OMG Girlz.
Tiny, who knows a bit about being in a girl group thanks to her 1990s run in Xscape (not to mention her hand in penning TLC's mega-hit "No Scrubs"), said she's helping to shepherd the debut by the group, which features her daughter, Zonnique (a.k.a. Star) as well as the offspring of Lil Wayne and his ex-wife, Antonia "Toya" Carter, Reginae (a.k.a. Baby Carter).
The preteen/teen quartet (ages 11 to 13) also includes members Basha (a.k.a. Beauty) and Lourdes (a.k.a. Lolo). They got their start last year when Tiny and her production partner, Kiesha Babi, began talking to Zonnique about her singing ability and encouraging her to form a group. (You can check out the OMZ Girlz's music here.)
Zonnique was actually already a veteran of one short-lived two-girl act, QT Posse, and Tiny suggested she hook up with Reginae to see if they could get something going. When Baby Carter proved her inherited rhyming skills to Tiny, the music industry vet knew she was on to something. "She started rapping for me and I thought this would be great," Tiny said.
As a mother and a survivor of the girl-group mill, Tiny's making sure her daughter's crew doesn't fall into the usual music industry traps that are typical for young acts. "I'm definitely using my experience and telling them the things I've been through," she said. "I don't want them to go through things I went through, so I tell them stories so we can avoid going in that direction."
OMG has played a few shows here and there, appearing at the SoulCircus in Charlotte, North Carolina, recently and at a charity event in Chicago, where they performed their first single, "Ain't Nobody," snippets of some of the other songs Tiny has helped write for them, and a few covers that they dance over.
"We're getting calls all the time and we have shows booked through March," said Tiny. So far, she's co-written seven or eight songs for the group's debut along with Babi, and the women have been encouraging the girls to get their feet wet with songwriting, since, as Tiny knows, that's where the real money is. "Kiesha and I wrote 'Ain't Nobody,' but Reginae wrote on that one too," she said. "We're trying to coach them to write, and they've come up with good stuff."
The Timbaland-style "Ain't Nobody," which sounds like TLC-meets-Rihanna, is a teen love lament, with the girls complaining about boys they're no longer interested in who won't take a hint: "Ain't nobody thinking bout you/ I ain't never had a boy that be sweatin' me bad as you do/ But I'm just not that into you/ I know it's hard but you should try forgetting me," they sing over a futuristic keyboard squiggle.
Baby Carter breaks in midway with a few bars in which she does Daddy proud, rapping, "My name is Reginae/ But you can call me Baby Carter/ They love me and they hate me cuz I'm Weezy F's daughter/ Yeah, I'm a brat and I think it's my world/ And I'm stuntin' like my daddy, cuz I'm daddy's little girl/ When I walk up in the spot, upgrades the room/ And if you standin' next to me, I will upgrade you too."
Despite some conspicuous-consumption lyrics (Baby says she wants a laptop and a Benz for her birthday), Tiny said the idea with OMG was to keep it clean and wholesome and provide some fun party music for younger fans. "It's definitely music that's OK for kids," she said. The focus now is on finishing the album and getting a record deal, as "Ain't Nobody" hits radio before the end of the year.
As for the girls' famous fathers, Tiny said Weezy has already promised he's working on a song for them that he's going to finish before he goes to prison next year. "Tip, you know it! He already told Star he's going to do a song with them," Tiny said. "They're excited."
"Jerkin' " stars the New Boyz also want to get in on the OMG album, and one of Wayne's protégé's, Lil Chuckee, has already jumped on the remix of "Ain't Nobody."