"It all comes back to Prince," says Mila J. At age 9, the artist appeared in Prince's "Diamonds & Pearls" video. Now, almost 15 years later, she's ready to take center stage."It all comes back to Prince," says Mila J. At age 9, the artist appeared in Prince's "Diamonds & Pearls" video. Now, almost 15 years later, she's ready to take center stage.
Last week, her single "Good Lookin Out" entered Billboard Radio Monitor's R&B/Hip-Hop chart at No. 37.
Meanwhile, her debut album, "Split Personality," is set for release in early fall on Universal Motown. "It's called 'Split Personality' because I sing and I rap," Mila J tells Billboard.com. "It's a blend of hip-hop and R&B, but there's something for everybody on there."
The singer first started rapping and going to concerts at the tender age of 4. In fact, her first concert experience was seeing Prince live.
"My father was real musical -- he played instruments and had a recording studio in our garage," she says, adding that she and her siblings were "always around music, so it was kinda in our blood. We started off dancing and then we were in little ghetto groups with me, my cousin and my sister."
That early affinity for music is what led Mila J and her sister, Miyoko, to appear in "Diamonds & Pearls," as well as several videos by boy band Immature.
The bond with the latter group continues -- Marques Houston lends vocals to "Good Lookin Out" -- but Mila J has grown up since those days as a backup dancer.
"I co-wrote a lot of songs on the album," she says. "I learned a lot about myself, actually. Before I was always in groups, so I was used to that comfort. But I actually got to step out and learn more about how to be a solo artist. Now I feel like I am ready."
Although she's come a long way in the last few years, there's still one aspect of her past that keeps coming back to haunt her. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.
"My sister and I went to see Prince's 'Musicology' tour," she says. "We were sitting right off the stage, and we ended up being pulled onstage to dance with him for like three songs. He even passed my sister the mike! He probably didn't even know we were the same little girls that were in his video, though. It's crazy, but we really do always come back to Prince."