Inside JET

What Ever Happened To: Charli Baltimore

Discovered by the Notorious B.I.G., Charli Baltimore hit the hip-hop scene with a vengeance in the late ’90s. Holding her own alongside the likes of Ja Rule and Ghostface Killah, the Philly native infused the genre with her own brand of swag. Since then the Grammy-nominated rapper, born Tiffany Lane, has added a variety of acting credits to her resume.

Now, 14 years after her debut album, Cold as Ice, Baltimore returns to her rap roots with her recently released mixtape through BMB Records, Hard2Kill. The 39-year-old shares what’s next on her agenda.

JET: When did you sign with BMB Records?

CB: Since February 2013, I’ve co-owned the label with my two partners. I’m currently vice president. We plan on turning it into an empire.

JET: What do you hope fans take away from your new mixtape Hard2Kill?

CB: Over the past few years, I’ve gotten really comfortable sharing personal experiences. I’m very lyrical, but I used to be more gritty. People can get a message from my new album… knowledge and inspiration.

JET: Did you write all of the tracks?

CB: I write all of my music. I’ve always considered myself a better writer than rapper. Poetry segued into writing rhymes. Writing is actual therapy for me.

JET: What was your main inspiration for this album?

CB: Being in a different environment. The Midwest has a different sound from the East Coast. So that brought out a different side of me.

JET: What’s your favorite track from Hard2Kill?

CB: My personal favorite is “Used To.” My daughter India is singing over the hook. (I felt it needed something to fill it out. I can’t sing a lick.) The track is about a relationship gone wrong, how it fell apart and why it hurt. There’s a realness and intensity.

JET: Are your two daughters following in your footsteps?

CB: India, who’s 23, is a professional model based in Los Angeles. And she is also a songwriter, a pop/R&B hybrid. My 18-year-old Sianni wants to take up fashion merchandising.

JET: Are there any artists you would like to work with that you haven’t?

CB: I’ve been fortunate to work with many people I admire. That’s something that presents itself.                                                                                                               

JET: When did you first realize you wanted to become a rapper?

CB: I started writing poetry when I was about 12. Then years later, when I met the Notorious B.I.G., he pushed me to hone my skills.

JET: What do you remember the most about the Notorious B.I.G.?

CB: His sense of humor. Everyone saw him as a hardcore rapper and a musical genius. But when the cameras were off, he was also a really funny person.

 JET: What do you think of today’s rap scene?

CB: I think it’s great. There are so many genres of hip-hop, lyricists and entertainers that there’s something for everybody.

 JET: Who have been your female rap idols or influences?

CB: I love MC Lyte, Salt-N-Pepa and Queen Latifah, especially Queen Latifah’s transition into an acting career.

JET: What type of movie roles would you love to take on?

CB: I’ve always wanted to portray a monster. I’m a huge fan of horror movies. My dad used to take me to see them when I was younger. I enjoy that element of suspense and escape from reality. I was recently cast in a horror thriller, which goes into production in October.

Follow Charli Baltimore on Twitter @CharliBaltimore