Dropped out of high school in the 11th grade, but eventually earned her GED.
Her demo tape was a karaoke-type recording of Anita Baker's "Caught Up in the Rapture" that she made at a mall when she was 17. It wound up in the hands of Uptown Records exec Andre Harrell, who signed her.
Sean Combs was her musical mentor, helping to produce her 1992 debut album, What's the 411?, and its follow-up, 1994's My Life.
What's the 411? sold more than two million copies and helped establish what was then termed "New Jack Swing" (a blend of soul and hip-hop).