Born Tiffany Lane on August 16, 1974, in Philadelphia, PA; daughter of a German father and African-American mother; married Jack Dreece, 2001; children: India and Sianni (daughters). Education: Attended Catholic schools in Philadelphia; obtained paralegal certification. Addresses: Record company--Murder Inc., 825 8th Ave., 20th Fl., New York, NY 10019.

Rapper and vocalist Charli Baltimore has faced many obstacles and troubles in her life and career. Her first two albums, both much anticipated, fell through the cracks due to shifts in the fast-moving hip-hop music industry. Prior to that she suffered a series of personal tragedies, culminating in the murder of her mentor and romantic partner, rapper Biggie Smalls. Yet a pair of hit singles showed Baltimore's potential, and she has been able to generate publicity and buzz even while searching for her place in the business.

Baltimore was born Tiffany Lane in Philadelphia on August 16, 1974; she took the name Charli Baltimore from the code name of the assassin character played by actress Geena Davis in the 1996 film The Long Kiss Goodnight. Her father was German and her mother African-American. Attending Catholic schools in Philadelphia, Baltimore loved to write poetry and got interested in music after hearing classic rappers Rakim and Big Daddy Kane. When she was bored in school, she wrote raps of her own. Her home life was chaotic, however, and in the tenth grade she became pregnant with her first child, India.

As a teenager Baltimore suffered four years of physical abuse from a boyfriend, even while she was pregnant. "I remember one time he had the door shut, and I was supposed to knock but I didn't. I walked in and he and three guys were playing a dice game," she told Elizabeth Mendez Berry of Vibe magazine. "I walked out with a black eye." After giving birth to another daughter, Sianni, she went through hard times, but pulled her life together and obtained certification as a paralegal.

Baltimore's life in the fast lane started when she met Biggie Smalls, otherwise known as Notorious B.I.G., at a party in 1995. Smalls had recently separated from his wife, vocalist Faith Evans. "I guess the best way to describe him would be like Barry White: He could charm you out of anything---even your clothes," Baltimore told Interview's Dimitri Ehrlich. The pair began what turned into a two-year relationship, and despite reports of his abusive ways toward his female partners, Smalls nurtured Baltimore's musical talent. "I called his beeper one day and did a rap on his voice mail," she told Interview. "He called me right back and said, "Did you write that? It's kinda cool, you should keep writing."

Smalls planned a hip-hop trio that would include himself, Baltimore, and rapper Jay-Z, to be called The Commission. But those plans were dashed by Smalls's murder in March of 1997. During that same year, the father of Baltimore's younger daughter committed suicide, a close friend was slain, and her father died after a long struggle with cancer. Baltimore contemplated suicide after these calamities, but the single mother of two stepped back from the brink. "I'm a realist who believes in learning from mistakes and tragedy," she told Charles R. Rogers of the New York Amsterdam News. "Plus, I have my kids to live for. ... I knew I had to keep on keeping on for them and myself."

Baltimore's runway looks landed her modeling jobs, and her name continued to circulate around the music industry. In 1998 she contributed a song to the soundtrack of the film Woo. "Money," with songwriting input from Philadelphia soul veterans Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, rose to the middle range of Billboard magazine's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart. Another single, "Stand Up," cracked the top ten of the magazine's Hot Rap Singles chart.

Baltimore's Untertainment label debut album Cold As Ice, was slated for release in June of 1999. With some production work from DJ Premier, distribution from the major label Epic, and guest appearances from Ghostface Killah and other top rappers, it seemed to hold plenty of promise. The album was even distributed to reviewers; the New York Amsterdam News praised Baltimore's "seductive ghetto-girl linguistics," although Brad Mills of All Music Guide felt that the album's content was "certainly nothing worthy of the attention she gets and guest appearances she draws."

Despite the buildup, Cold as Ice mysteriously disappeared from the radar; the website reported that it was "shelved due to creative differences between Baltimore and the record label, and further complications." Searching for a recording deal, she remained visible to music audiences with both screen and soundtrack appearances in director Spike Lee's 2000 satire Bamboozled (in which her contribution, "Charli," seemed designed to broaden her name recognition) and in Snipes (2001), working with rapper Nelly in the latter film. Baltimore's personal life took a turn for the better in 2001 when she married Jack Dreece.

In 2002 Baltimore signed on with the Murder Inc. label, where hip-hop mastermind Irv Gotti (Irv Lorenzo) was perfecting a commercially savvy variant of the music, featuring sexy female vocalists such as Ashanti. A master practitioner of the cross-branding that had increasingly come to dominate the hip-hop scene, Gotti at first exploited Baltimore's modeling background; he announced a partnership with the Revlon cosmetics firm and planned to revive its Charlie perfume in a campaign featuring Baltimore. "Icily beautiful, she is the perfect role model for a perfume launched to original Charlie's Angels-type women in 1973," noted Dom Phillips of the London Guardian. A track from a new Baltimore album-in-progress featured a hook sampled from the perfume's original advertising campaign.

Once again Baltimore seemed close to a breakthrough. A 2002 album called Irv Gotti Presents The Inc. featured Baltimore teamed with Ashanti and rapper Ja Rule on a track called "Down 4 U," a major hit that dominated hip-hop airwaves late that year. Baltimore was the featured artist on another track, "No One Does It Better." A fresh round of Baltimore interviews appeared, revealing an intelligent woman with career smarts despite the many roadblocks she had encountered. In 2003 Baltimore went on an international tour with Ja Rule and Ashanti, but by the following year, she parted ways with Murder Inc. Tensions between Murder Inc.'s unusually large group of female artists didn't seem to play a role; Baltimore told that "People expect there to be friction, but we get along very well." Baltimore's music continued to circulate on mix tapes, and the German-African-American rapper with the fashion-model image still seemed to be a star in the making.

by James M. Manheim

Charli Baltimore's Career

Recorded single "Money" for soundtrack of film Woo and recorded chart single "Stand Up," 1998; recorded album Cold as Ice for Untertainment label, 1999; project shelved; appeared on soundtracks of films Bamboozled and Snipes, 2000-01; recorded with Ja Rule and Ashanti on hit single "Down 4 U," from album Irv Gotti Presents The Inc., 2002; recorded album The Diary for Murder Inc. label (not immediately released), 2003; toured with Ja Rule and Ashanti, 2004.

Famous Works

Further Reading



Visitor Comments Add a comment…

about 13 years ago

Hea Charlie, I've seen you on TV, but I didn't know anything about you until today. I listened to one of your songs. You write really good. I think your hot, but why you stop? I'm a single mom & if I made it to where you were at I woulndn't ever come down.

almost 14 years ago

Charli I have always loved your music Feel it is my jam I still pull that song up on youtube. Its good to see that your rapping is still going been waiting on your Album since it was pushed back. you have two beatiful daughters. You get much props from me Im also a single mother and keep doing you and being you. Your #1 fan

over 15 years ago

Nuff luv charlie,keep up the good work. I really understand what u went through, but u prevailed. Wish u and your daughters good luck in whatever you choose to do with your life. I always listen to your music and always luv u. ghetto fabulous. Luv U always

over 15 years ago

Diciples you are ignorant for making that comment. Charlie I wish you nothing but luck in the future. You keep it real and represent for all the women who have went through what you have experienced.

almost 16 years ago

I heard when Charlie Baltimore first signed to Murder Inc that she was behind Irv Gotti's desk sucking his dick for a better deal(YES SUCKING HIS DICK LOL)Damn I wish she did that shyt to me lol.

about 16 years ago

I heard Charlie the other day being interviewed by Wendy Williams and it was a great interview b/c we got to know alot about her and her daughters being models. I hope everything falls right where it should for her. I am in her age group and understand alot of what she was saying. Much love!

over 16 years ago

i love a women who overcomes her problems(no homo)&steps up to da plate no matter her personal problems for her kids, because leaving them would of only been 4da mother chose 2leave me but not 4ever but it was devastating 4me n so hard...i am glad u did what was best 4ur kids n ur still goin strong n u a thrill azz philly join(im from philly 2) who lyrics iz dope ya digg....keep doin u n stay up mama.Love ya....riyma

over 16 years ago

charli, u r so hard. i wana be a rapper too. there's not too many female rappers. ima multi task. ima rap, act, and maybe produce. who noe's, maybe ill end up workn wit u on a label. remember this comment, cuz when i blow up, u can say "hey, i noe dat chick". u inspire me mami. ur hella hood wit it. and dat shit iz aight wit me. shit, im yung, but yung, fly, fresh, and flashy. my name is ketra, but when i blow up, u might noe me by TRACEY "JAiME" JONES. i came up wit dat cuz TRACEY is my nick name. JAiME is from my favorite actor, jaimie foxx. and JONES is my fiance's last name. so be lookn 4 me. and good luck ma. and ur daughters r beautiful

over 16 years ago

Hi Charlie, I'm glad you've came back into this industry. We really do need you. Just rerember you are here for a reason your a gift from GOD. Do your thang boo!!!!

over 16 years ago

I thought Charli was a Blood! Lmao, Shes Hot, Talented and a mean Rapper!