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1 February 2005

The first of Lil’ Brianna

The doors of Northwestern High School in Miami are generally closed on Saturday, but on this particular day, it looks like it’s the first day of school. In the gymnasium, some kids walk around with their backpacks greeting their friends as if they hadn’t seen each other in months, and all are dressed to impress-new hair weaves for girls, the latest shoes for guys and complete outfits along with matching accessories to complete the package.

But the reason all of these kids have come out to school is not for any school-related activity. The person responsible for all of this may be a new name to you, but to those in attendance, she is one of the next big thing in the world of music. Brianna “Lil’ Brianna” Perry, a young, sophisticated lady with a fresh vigor and hunger is ready to take take the hip-hop world by storm, but on this particular day, she’s also celebrating her 13th birthday.

South Florida’s latest “lil’” rapper has accomplished more than most people twice her age who are still trying to break into the music industry. Rapping and free styling since she was seven, Brianna’s talents were recognized when she caught the ear of Miami’s own “Diamond Princess” Trina. She was instantly swooped up with a recording contract under Trina’s now-defunct label, Diva Enterprises. After appearing on albums by two of hip-hop’s raunchiest female rappers, Trina and Jacki-O, along with becoming the youngest person to freestyle on BET’s Rap City: The Bassment Show, she eventually caught the attention of one of her biggest influences, Missy Elliott.

Elliott saw the creativity and originality of Brianna and immediately signed the young talent to her own label, Goldmind Inc. Using the talents of Elliott, Timbaland and others, she has recorded over 40 tracks for the untitled album.

“The recording sessions with Missy run smooth because I have the passion and love for music that I want to make my project sound good,” says Brianna. When working with Elliott, an important requirement to making a hit record, is keeping up with Elliott’s nocturnal recording schedule, one that Brianna has gotten use to. “I’m a kid. I keep the energy,” she says with a laugh, “But I do take breaks.” While much information surrounding the album is under lock, Brianna does assure that it will be worth the weight. “You have to look out for that album. It’s serious.”

Brianna is distinguishing herself from the rest of the artists her age because not only does she have producers such as Elliott and Timbaland, but also because she is writing her own material. And while Lil’ Bow Wow and Lil’ Romeo had the support of the millions of pre-pubescent girls, Brianna has the confidence that she will gain their support, too. “Hopefully my lyrics and my music will take them in and hopefully I won’t have to worry [about not being accepted].”

As she patiently awaits stardom, she credits her mentor Elliott with preparing her for what’s to come. “Missy has taught me to stay humble and work hard, because when you work hard, you can conquer anything.” And if everything goes according to plan, you can expect to see Brianna everywhere. “I hope to be taking over the world. Lil’ Brianna backpacks, umbrellas, purses, perfumes. Everything!” Obviously, she has also learned that branding and marketing are the keys to success, an important lesson for even someone who just turned 13.

Marcus Washington can be contacted at m.washington2@umiami.edu.