IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Rappers’ ladies seek own identity on reality TV

Tameka "Tiny" Cottle wants to jump start her career while taking care of a house full of kids and dealing with her fiance, rapper T.I., serving time in an Arkansas prison.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Tameka "Tiny" Cottle wants to jump start her career while taking care of a house full of kids and dealing with her fiance, rapper T.I., serving time in an Arkansas prison.

Antonia "Toya" Carter is trying to get her life back on track after a tumultuous divorce from rapper Lil Wayne.

They are best friends, two women who can relate to parenting alongside two of hip-hop's biggest stars. Now, both have united for their own reality show on BET called "Tiny & Toya," which begins June 30.

The half-hour, eight-episode series delves into the personal lives of Cottle and Carter, who are both seeking to define themselves professionally as individuals outside of their high-profile relationships.

"We're trying to create our own identity," says Carter, who was married to Lil Wayne for two years. "We're letting people know what we're really all about. We're trying to get our businesses up and running and just having fun — the way we live life for ourselves."

One the show, Cottle, member of the defunct 90's multi-platinum R&B group Xscape, tries to manage three different all-girl singing groups. One of the groups includes her daughter and Carter's daughter. She also attempts to open her own nail salon, located in suburban Atlanta.

The 33-year-old Cottle also opens up about her father's battle with Alzheimer's disease while attempting to maintain a household of five kids — two of whom she had with T.I. The rapper is locked up in an Arkansas penitentiary on a federal weapons conviction.

One episode shows the morning when T.I. enters prison. Cottle says she speaks with T.I. several times each day and has already visited him — without their children.

"Just facing the day I would be without him, what it's going to be like when all the kids are not going to have him around," Cottle says in a recent interview. "We have a lot of help. But it's always different when Daddy says, 'Don't do this.' They listen more. I have to help fill his void when he's gone."

Cottle says T.I. doesn't agree with her having a reality show, because he feels she doesn't need to work.

"It's not what he wants," says Cottle, while sitting on the back porch of her suburban Atlanta home. "He wants me to be at home. He wants me not to work and just live. But my music career was so short-lived and there's something still there I want to do creatively. I felt like when the opportunity presented itself, it seemed like the perfect time to do it for myself."

On the show, the 24-year-old Carter gets a book published about her life experiences as a single mother, her attempt to launch a bedtime clothing line for young girls and dealing with her mother who is trying to overcome a drug habit.

"This is therapy for me," Carter says. "I'm talking about things and correcting problems that affected my life. I'm able to talk to family members about things that bothered me. Getting stuff out I've held in for a longtime."

Carter and Lil Wayne grew up in a rough neighborhood of New Orleans where both became high school sweethearts. She gave birth to his child at age 15 and the couple married in 2005. But just when the rapper's music career was emerging to the next level, she says they divorced a couple years later after his infidelity.

Carter says she saw a change in Lil Wayne before their breakup.

"I grew up with him when he didn't have none of this stuff, this fame," she says. "And now you get on this high horse and it's like you look down at this person ain't good enough for you anymore. It's a lot to deal with, but it's something I've been going through."

Lil Wayne, whose real name is Dwayne Carter, doesn't appear on the show, but his representative says he's supportive of Carter's endeavors.

After the separation, Carter and Lil Wayne's mother — who also makes an appearance on the show — built a strong rapport with each other. Carter says the rapper supports them financially, but is rarely around because of his career.

Now, Carter attempts to move on. On the show, she has a blind date with Buffalo Bills wide receiver James Hardy, but she says her main focus is on raising her daughter and expanding herself as an entrepreneur.

Carter says she leans on Cottle for advice, calling her a "big sister."

"When I'm down and out, she's the one I go and talk to," she says. "My mom is not here, so I don't have anyone else here like that."

For the most part, Cottle claims the show is going to be mostly drama-free.

"It's a real family-oriented show," Cottle says. "It's not a lot of drama. You can look for tender moments, taking care of our kids and trying to get our new life going with our businesses. We're facing stuff on our own."