LIANE HANSEN, host:

There's nothing little about this voice.

(Soundbite of song "The Would Should Revolve Around Me")

LITTLE JACKIE: (Singing)I take it in stride one day at a time, if I ask no questions I hear no lies, how come blessings only come in disguise, I try to emphasize as I vocalize, aint nothin gunna get between me and my flow, aint nothin gunna come between me and my afro. my man just left, what do ya know, easy come easy go.

HANSEN: That's Imani Coppola. She and musician Adam Pallin formed the eclectic duo Little Jackie. Their debut album, "The Stoop," is full of tell-it-like-it-is punchy lyrics - not for the prudish - and musical arrangements that refresh an old-school R&B sound with pop hooks and hip hop beats.

(Soundbite of song "Black Barbie")

LITTLE JACKIE: (Singing) I'm just Like black Barbie The life of the party I light up the TV Arrested for D-WI's Sent me to the slammer Did time Without glamour Time stood still Without my pain kill pills

HANSEN: Imani Coppola and Adam Pallin are Little Jackie, and they join us from our New York bureau. Welcome to the program, both of you.

Ms. IMANI COPPOLA (Singer): Thanks for that wonderful introduction.

HANSEN: No problem. We'll get to play some more music, too. But I want to know, Imani, did you have a black Barbie?

Ms. COPPOLA: No, I didn't have any Barbie dolls. It was very - it was kind of rare to find a black doll when I was growing up, you know. And if there was one, it was almost embarrassing to have because it was like the only obvious black doll, and the only reason you had it was because you were black in some way.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. COPPOLA: So, I mean, it was - I don't know, growing up in Long Island at that time, you made an effort to mold yourself as a white person. In my childhood years, before hip hop, black people were associated with the movie "The Roots," which was huge back then.

There was like this influx of slavery awareness, and being like one of the only black people in my entire school district, all attention was always on you, Black History Month, whatever. You were always the first person the teacher would ask questions about it, you know. And I didn't really have much experience being black, being that my whole life, I was trying to be white, you know, so I just felt like it's a little weird.

But "Black Barbie" is just, I guess, fantasy about how it would be if I were one of those girls, you know, the Paris Hiltons of the world - not that I would ever, ever in my life strive to be something like that.

(Soundbite of song "Black Barbie")

LITTLE JACKIE: (Singing) I live the simple life I am the socialite I got no appetite Ain't got no cellulite Got a disorder I eat all the time I'm part Ethiopian That's why I stay so thin

HANSEN: The message is one that I suppose can't be broadcast more often. It's the idea - I mean, first of all, a Barbie doll is, you know, physically, anatomically impossible. But there is that pressure that you see in the socialites and the celebutants for being thin and beautiful to the point where they compromise.

Ms. COPPOLA: Yeah, they're sick.

HANSEN: Yeah, their own health.

(Soundbite of song "Black Barbie")

LITTLE JACKIE: (Singing) Yeah never ever Had to watch my weight Just call my publicist She'll get My story straight Went from A size eight to a zero Just like magic I'm a weight-loss hero Bon appetite

Ms. COPPOLA: Magazines, I feel like they're targeted to make women feel bad about themselves for either not having the money to acquire these things or not having the resources to look like these women, and, you know, you know how the story goes. But that is also why people are obsessed with them, and that is why they sell. But I just feel like they're feeding a woman's depression and overall, just bad self-image.

HANSEN: How did you and Adam meet?

Mr. ADAM PALLIN (Singer): We met sort of coincidentally while I was working at the studio, and she was getting back in touch with a producer that she had worked with back maybe eight or nine years ago. And Mike Mangini, who produced this record, introduced us, and just sort of on a whim, she was coming in to write lyrics, and I was working at a studio doing tracks, and we sort of met. That sort of spawned the relationship.

HANSEN: Where does the name Little Jackie come from?

Ms. COPPOLA: It's an evolving thing.

HANSEN: Oh, you're making up a story. Oh, do continue.

Ms. COPPOLA: Well, you know, this is the true story. I was sitting watching TV, and I was like, huh, Little Jackie is a cool name.

Mr. PALLIN: It seems to be a combination of two factors. One, there is a song that is called "Little Jackie Wants to be a Star," that's by Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam, that somehow was inspiring in one way or another. And you have a childhood story.

Ms. COPPOLA: It was not inspiring in any way.

Mr. PALLIN: For lack of a better word, it was influential.

HANSEN: I grew up at a time when you'd have so many singles on the radio released by Little Teresa Brewer, Little Somebody Somebody, Little Walter...

Ms. COPPOLA: Little Stevie?

HANSEN: Little Stevie, yeah.

Ms. COPPOLA: That was another take on the whole thing, you know, the L-I-T-T-L-E instead of the L-I-L.

HANSEN: Yes, yeah.

Ms. COPPOLA: To sort of bring it back to that era of Little people.

HANSEN: Yeah. The era is also reproduced in the arrangements. I'm listening to it, and I'm hearing the Dixie Cups, you know, doing the song, and there'd be a bell in the background. And that's the kind of sound that was being produced back in the day.

Mr. PALLIN: It's very much a collage of Phil Spector. You have Memphis soul, Chicago soul, Detroit soul - all those influences are in there. And yeah, the bells were huge. I mean, a lot of those early pop arrangements that Phil Spector worked on were based around orchestral arrangements. So, you had glockenspiels and celestas.

HANSEN: Live, too.

Mr. PALLIN: Yes, all live. So, you just always had this big - really big and just dramatic sound.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. COPPOLA: I like it because I grew up in that sort of environment, playing violin, always symphonic, and every morning of my life was filled with oboes and bells and French horns and violins and stuff like that.

Mr. PALLIN: I love French horns.

Ms. COPPOLA: French horns are beautiful.

HANSEN: Yeah.

Ms. COPPOLA: A flugelhorn is very pretty, too.

(Soundbite of music)

HANSEN: Adam and Imani, you think you guys are going to work together again on another CD?

Ms. COPPOLA: Aren't we going to make a jazz album or something?

Mr. PALLIN: We were going to make a rock...

Ms. COPPOLA: A rock album, yeah, right. No, it should be really fun to see what happens for the next record. I'm sure it's going to be somewhat the same formula but lyrically, I really hope that whatever I'm going through in that time of my life isn't what I was going through...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. COPPOLA: "The Stoop," where I was involved in just piecing together myself emotionally. And I would love to be in a positive place when I write the next album.

HANSEN: Imani Coppola and Adam Pallin are Little Jackie. Their debut album, "The Stoop," is out now. They joined us from the New York bureau. Good luck to both of you. Thank you.

Mr. PALLIN: Thank you.

Ms. COPPOLA: Thank you so much.

(Soundbite of song "The Stoop")

LITTLE JACKIE: (Singing) This stoop is my throne This hood is my home And the sky's always blue by the brownstones We in Brooklyn, it ain't no Beverly Hills Basically we pay bills, then chill It's like East Coast bliss, it's like West Coast diss We do it like this and you seal it with a kiss And a pound, that's just how it go down It's the protocol, do you feel me all? Saturday afternoon is all about the 9 to 4 And tonight we're gonna do it some more Sunday morning hear the bands in the church play All day long, every block there's a new song Sitting on the stoop in Bed-Stuy Always sayin' hi when the brothers walk by Just got the etiquette Sitting on the top step With a bag of chips, sit back, relax, enjoy the trip...

HANSEN: This is Weekend Edition from NPR News. I'm Liane Hansen.

(Soundbite of song "The Stoop")

LITTLE JACKIE: (Singing) You don't mess with me It is what it is, it ain't all hard up in the hood Sittin on my front stoop and it's all good

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