Cottle was born in College Park, Georgia, to a Caucasian mother, Dianne Cottle (b. 1945) and an African American father, Charles "Speedy" Pope (1936–2013). Cottle's father and her uncle, Joseph Pope (1933–1996), formed the R&B group The Tams. Cottle joined the R&B quartet Xscape in 1992 while attending Tri-Cities Performing Arts High School. Xscape was discovered by producer Jermaine Dupri while singing at a Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday celebration in Atlanta. Dupri immediately signed the group to his then new record label, So So Def Recordings.
As a member of the group, Cottle has contributed to three of the band's platinum albums: Hummin' Comin' at 'Cha, Off the Hook, and Traces of My Lipstick. As a member of Xscape, she has received two Soul Train Music Awards for Best New R&B Artist and Best R&B Album and the A-Town Music Award for Best Duo/Group. Cottle sang lead vocals on six of Xscape's hit singles: "Understanding", "Do You Want To?", "All I Need", "Love's a Funny Thing", "My Little Secret", and "Am I Dreamin'". She has also recorded on soundtracks for Soul Food, Panther, Bad Boys, and Love Jones. In 1998, after the release of Xscape's third album, Traces of My Lipstick, the band parted ways.
In 2000, Cottle and fellow former Xscape group member Kandi Burruss were honored with a Grammy Award for Best R&B Song for penning TLC's hit single "No Scrubs". Cottle's other accomplishments include an American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers award in the R&B and Pop Music categories for "No Scrubs", as well as the ASCAP Rap Award for her work on the Sporty Thievz track "No Pigeons". Cottle has also worked with T.I., 8Ball & MJG, Lil' Kim and Bow Wow.
After a five-year hiatus, Cottle reunited with sisters LaTocha and Tamika Scott and added a new member, Kiesha Miles, to release a Xscape album entitled Unchained and released the single "What's Up" in 2005.
Cottle is involved in a project with Kiesha Miles called the OMG Girlz. Cottle's daughter, Zonnique, is a part of the musical trio.
In June 2009, Cottle's reality series, Tiny and Toya, made its debut on BET.
She appeared in her husband's video for "Hello" along with their family and the OMG Girlz.
On July 22, 2014, Tameka returned to the music industry under her new label Pretty Hustle, with her first solo single "What The Fuck You Gon Do?". Within a few hours of "WTFYGD" being released it reached the number 5 spot on the iTunes R&B/Soul charts, and less than 24 hours after release it became the number one song on the charts for the genre.
In 2000, Cottle began dating rapper T.I. Cottle and T.I. married on July 30, 2010 in Miami Beach, Florida. They have two sons together: King Harris (born August 25, 2004), Major Philant Harris (born May 16, 2008) and a daughter, Heiress Diana Harris (born March 2016). Their daughter Leyah Amore Harris was stillborn on March 22, 2007, six months into a complicated pregnancy. Cottle also has an older daughter, Zonnique Jailee Pullins (born March 20, 1996), from her previous relationship with Zonnie "Zeboe" Pullins. Through her marriage to T.I., Cottle has three stepchildren: stepsons Messiah Ya'Majesty (born 2000) and Domani Uriah (born 2001), and stepdaughter Deyjah Imani Harris (born 2001).
In December 2011, T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle premiered on VH1. The series chronicles the lives of Cottle and T.I.'s plus their family.
Cottle's father, Charles Pope, died on July 11, 2013, at the age of 76 after a long battle with Alzheimer's Disease.
Tiny and Shekinah's Weave Trip premiered on VH1 on October 13, 2014. The series chronicles Cottle and her best friend Shekinah Anderson in a mobile hair salon across the country.
On December 25, 2015, the couple announced that they were expecting their third child together and on March 26, 2016, the couple welcomed a baby girl named Heiress Diana Harris.
In December 2016, Cottle filed for divorce from T.I. after six years of marriage.
On September 1, 2010, Cottle and T.I. were arrested following a motor vehicle stop in Los Angeles. The police reported that an odor of burnt marijuana was coming from the vehicle and the couple were found to be in possession of a controlled substance, ecstasy. They posted $10,000 bail.