The Ultimate Group is proud to introduce Mila J, one of the latest addition to the TUG roster headed by musical mastermind Chris Stokes, creator of the multi-platinum selling group B2K. Mila J embodies today’s urban female by representing strength, passion and presence with a hood glam that ladies admire and fellas want to get next to.
The Los Angeles native’s heritage is Black, Asian, and Indian. She began rapping at age 4 and immediately knew her destiny was to perform. Reminiscent of the late Left Eye, whom she admires, Jamila contributes her love of hip-hop to her music and sense of style, giving her a street edge with feminine appeal. “Ive always loved old school groups like the Fat Boys oddly enough,” Jamila shares, “The guy at the video store ended up just giving me a copy of Krush Groove because its my favorite movie of all time and Id rent it every weekend.” As one in a family of six, the animated youngster met Chris Stokes when she was just nine years old after her sister had appeared in an Immature video. She caught the producer’s eye and he made her a member of his now defunct girl group Dame. Hailing from a musical family, Jamila’s natural ability shines through, from her sense of style to her self-written rhymes. “I went to school for fashion, but singing and dancing are in my heart, that’s what I love and can’t see myself doing anything else.”
We interview Mila J.
HIP: Doing a lot of press today?
MILA J.: Yes, but I like it.
Are you surprised by all the stuff you have to do before the album comes out?
It’s definitely different. It’s a lot of hard work and my schedule has changed from nothing to doing everything. What I like about it is that everything is spontaneous. So it’s a lot of fun.
Is it strange to be talking about yourself?
Yes, but I’m used to it now.
What was your age when you started to say I can do this?
I started dancing first; the first thing I booked was dancing for Immature. I did the Prince video “Diamond and Pearls.” So I started off professionally. But I started doing my own thing around 16 or 17 and I’m 23 now.
Has it seemed like a long time?
It felt like a long time but it’s been worth it. The time helped me build as a person and an artist. I’m thankful that I had this.
What was your age when you began working on tracks?
I’ve been signed for 2 years but the album was done in 6 months. It seemed like a long time but once I got signed, it’s been a whirlwind.
How involved did you become with the album?
Chris Stokes is the producer; I’ve known him for 11 years when I danced for Immature. He allows the artists to be involved in the project and we’re not just projects to him. It’s definitely a hands-on experience. It’s a more creative environment?
Is it weird to discuss your “image”?
It is weird because you are you on a day to day basis but being an artist you want to step it up a notch. You want to put a good image out there and not dress like someone else. I have to think out what I wear [and] it can be hard.
When do you figure out your sound and style?
We recorded like 30 songs, in the beginning we really didn’t keep any of them, but it allowed me to figure out which direction to go with.
Sometimes it’s natural or sometimes if it’s just a voice.
The producers I worked with were able to sit down and knock out like 10 songs. We stuck to our producers rather than working with so many different ones. So we were able to figure my sound.
When did you know you had a voice?
My father was very musical, and growing up around it made us interested in it. We had a sound studio in our garage. We saw him do it and were interested in it. My father had us in all different concerts. My first concert was Prince and I was in awe of the music industry even at a young age.
Were your parents excited about you being signed to a record deal?
My parents are very excited. They’ve always been very supportive…. they always said do what you want to do but just be the best at it. So if I wanted to do nails my mom told me that was fine but to own the nail salon. [Laughs]
Did you father want to come down to the studio?
NO, now he’s just a dad. He didn’t want to hop on the track or anything. But if I ever got to perform on the Grammy’s then maybe he can play an instrument and I’ll be like that’s my daddy!
Have you performed any solo shows yet?
The first show I did was the Apollo…that was my first show and I was nervous. It helped me to be more confident. So I was ready to go to radio shows and stuff. I’m now opening up for Avant…he’s on a mini club tour. That’s my first official tour.
I’m always curious about your first experience?
Well first time I was really nervous but I performed for him and the fans were very supportive of me so it made me less nervous.
What did you feel like the first time?
Well no matter how many times you practice I still get nervous. After ten seconds I wonder why I was nervous. I read that Michael Jackson still gets nervous and that when you stop getting nervous than you should be worried.
About rapping – were you nervous? People seem to be very critical, how was that?
I try not to think about that. People are just like that no matter what. I focus on the positive stuff and run with that. You can’t really please everybody any way, you’ll kill yourself trying to please everyone.
When does it come out?
Yes, October 10th, it’s called split personality because I sing and rap.
+ Charlie Craine