Derrick Dunn

Derrick Dunn

Slow Jam Saturday : Lil Mo feat. Carl Thomas – Player Not The Game

Songtress Lil Mo hit the scene in 1998 with her debut single “5 Minutes” from the soundtrack to Why Do Fools Fall In Love under the tutelage of icon Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott. While the song was received well by urban audiences wasn’t until Mo’s appearance on Missy Elliott’s record-breaking single “Hot Boyz” that the industry began to take note. Mo would follow that song with two successful Ja Rule collaborations in “Put It On Me” and “I Cry,” which set the stage for her debut album Based on a True Story.


Lil Mo came out of the gate running with the smash hit “Superwoman Pt. II,” which featured a then-unknown Fabolous. Twenty-two years that track still gets radio and club play. However, you all know I’m a ballad guy, so one song instantly caught my attention when I purchased the album in the summer of 2001. That song “Player Not The Game” is this week’s pick for Slow Jam Saturday.


The track was a ballad duet with Carl Thomas, “Player Not The Game” was written by Quincy Patrick and Joshua Thompson, co-producing with Flavahood. The song explores the complexity and confusion that can arise regarding love, romance, and relationships. The lyrics touch on the idea of being played or the one doing the playing and consider who the victim is in these situations. The song starts with the narrator describing a scenario where a man waits for a woman outside her door in the morning, but she’s not there because she’s with someone else. Later that night, the woman is by her phone waiting for the man to call, but he doesn’t, leaving her feeling alone and abandoned. 


The chorus explores the idea that although love can be complicated and painful, it’s not the game that causes the hurt but the players involved. The lyrics allude to a “kaleidoscope of love,” where people go around in circles, falling in love and feeling pain. Still, ultimately, the actions of the individuals involved cause heartache. The second verse describes the narrator’s approach to love – keeping their feelings in a “dark and deep place” and waiting for true love to show itself. 


The chorus reiterates that blame should be placed on the player, not the game, emphasizing personal responsibility in relationships. Overall, “Player Not the Game” speaks to romantic relationships’ complicated and sometimes painful nature and emphasizes the importance of personal responsibility and accountability in love.


While the song was never a single, it’s still in my Top 3 Lil Mo songs.


Final Grade: B+


“Player Not The Game” from Based on a True Story is available on all streaming platforms. 

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