Twenty-year-old Sofia Donado (known as, “Lil $o$o”) has experienced both extreme love and grief from a young age, and has undergone her fair share of opportunities and tribulations. Not only has she been gifted with wisdom beyond her years through certain circumstances, but in the midst of it all, was introduced to her life purpose because of them.
Donado was born in Chicago and consequently moved to South Florida with her young, single mother while her father was incarcerated. She spent her childhood moving from home to home, while her family was undergoing hardships to make ends meet. Although it was not always easy, relocating constantly helped to connect her with diverse people and styles, and her unconventional upbringing is what she proudly states sets her apart. “I really grew up this way – in a situation that I didn’t choose,” explains Donado, “I’m not afraid to be myself because of that. I’m authentically me.”
Thanks to her mother’s modern music taste, Donado spent her childhoods listening to Y2K hip hop artists such as Plies, Pretty Ricky, and Juvenile. She was especially empowered, though, by female musicians like Ashanti, Mary J. Blige and Keyshia Cole. Her passion for music and lyrics gave her the push to start writing poetry every day for fun, although she never considered making it a career.
While in high school, her life took a turning point when she began to gain popularity on Instagram, even getting shouted out by artists, such as Cuban-American singer Malu Trevejo. She then met her first true love, rapper and record producer Jayo Sama, whose child she became pregnant with while still a student. After she and him moved in together, anticipating the birth of their firstborn, the ultimate watershed in her life occurred: the love of her life was fatally shot. Motivated by both her heart wrenching grief and the inner strength that was fueled by their upcoming newborn, Donado’s main focus became being the best mother. Therefore, she started writing as a hobby, utilizing it as a way to both heal and have fun.
It wasn’t until she was writing in a state of flow when a spark had been lit within her core – she felt intuitively that music was what she was meant to be doing. “From there,” she says, “everything started to come together.” Discovered by manager Melissa Marin while shopping in West Palm Beach, Donado was then introduced to producer, songwriter and rapper, LunchMoney Lewis, who signed her to his label Lunchbox Records. Since then, she’s been working towards her first mixtape/EP titled, $o$o World, and filming music videos for her three upcoming singles, “Better Life”, “Woo Tang” and “Lil $o$o”.
With each passing day, Donado sees herself as an empowering female rapper and songwriter, as well as an entrepreneur in the beauty field with plans to own her own beauty salon. Most importantly, however, her main focus is continuing to be the best mother she could be. When she looks at her son, she sees the light that has helped keep her life illuminated; the daily reminder of the person she loved and lost, but consequently helped transform her into a fiercely independent woman, writer and artist.