Lil Mama celebrates her birthday at Toshi’s Living Room in NYC

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Lil Mama has been making some noise in 2015. With her single “Sausage” earlier this year and her latest track “Too Fly,” the New York native is embracing her hip-hop heritage and reclaiming her city’s musical legacy. But she’s also having fun.

The rapper celebrated her 26th birthday at Toshi’s Living Room in Manhattan flanked by friends and family. Chatting and sipping cocktails with attendees like Marc John Jefferies of Notorious fame and cracking jokes with everyone on-hand, the rapper/actress was definitely in a playful mood.

“This birthday represents my independence,” she explained. “I feel like I have so much clarity in my life and direction. I know where I’m going, I’m fearless — courageous and fearless. It’s a redemption time. It’s like a becoming.”

That spirit of reinvention and reinvigoration is paired with her current throwback approach in the music she’s been releasing lately. Her upcoming mixtape Take Me Back is full of that classic hip-hop spirit and she talked about her latest single “Too Fly” and why she wants to be a conduit through which younger hip-hop fans can better understand the genre’s past.

“‘Too Fly’ is too too fly!” Lil Mama stated proudly. “We’re doing this ’90’s hip-hop thing. I’m showing people what inspired me. I feel like I’m a bridge between old school hip-hop and the new generation. A lot of people don’t know who MC Lyte is or who Slick Rick is or Doug E. Fresh or KRS-One. DJ Kool is the beat on ‘Too Fly.’”

Lil Mama wants to remind everyone that hip-hop isn’t just glitz and glam and that there was a time when people went to the club to actually party and have fun — as opposed to preening and posing.

“When people used to go out, my mom would say, ‘I’m going to the Tunnel’ or ‘I’m going to the Shadow.’ I didn’t know what that was, but I knew they’d have a great time. I knew they were gonna come back and be sweaty and have to take a shower and get a lot of rest because they had so much fun the night before. Now when you go to the club, people are trying to make a music video! They’re trying to pop bottles and look good. I want to remind us that we can have fun.”

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