Where Are They Now?: MC Lyte

In today’s image driven Rap industry it’s difficult for a female MC to create her own lane. But if you looked at the thriving career of veteran rapper, MC Lyte, it might seem easy. After enlisting the help of her older brothers, Milk Dee and Gizmo, collectively known as Audio Two, MC Lyte recorded her […]

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In today’s image driven Rap industry it’s difficult for a female MC to create her own lane. But if you looked at the thriving career of veteran rapper, MC Lyte, it might seem easy. After enlisting the help of her older brothers, Milk Dee and Gizmo, collectively known as Audio Two, MC Lyte recorded her first single “I Cram To Understand U.” The Brooklyn, NY native eventually landed a record deal with First Priority Music, and dropped her classic debut Lyte As A Rock, inspiring b-girls worldwide. Lyte would go on to become the first solo female rap artist to be nominated for a Grammy, for her street anthem “Ruffneck.” With over 20 years in the game and an impressive body of film, television and voiceover work. MC Lyte is still one of the most respected MCs in Hip-Hop. And with the launch of her Hip-Hop/soul group, Almost September, MC Lyte looks to build onto her legacy and help create a new lane in the music she loves.  Still a keeping a heavy presence in the game, catch up with Lyte. AllHipHop.com: When you got in the game Hip-Hop was still a very male dominated area of the music industry. What made you want to get in to it? MC Lyte: I just feel like I had a voice. I feel like I had something to say. I’d already heard Sha Rock from Funky Four +1 and I had already heard Salt ‘N Pepa and Roxanne Shante, Real Roxanne and Sweet-T and after that I just felt like this is something I wanted to do.MC Lyte “Paper Thin”AllHipHop.com: Looking at today’s industry verses how things were when you came in do you feel females have a better chance making it in Hip-Hop today?MC Lyte: I think it’s all a matter of perspective, because I’m an Internet head. When you’re a female artist and you’re not being received well by the major record labels you can create your own lane and do your own thing. I feel, in that way, it’s way better for any artist not just females but male MCs as well. You no longer need a sign of approval from a major record label. You can just do your own thing and make it happen. I do think it’s sad that there aren’t many on a major label front but that’s not a sadness that supersedes my happiness for independence. And it’s a rough road as an independent. As one who has done it…I’ve done the independent and I’ve done the majors. Now I’m back independent but if a major happens to come back into my life and give me all the things that I want and treats me as an artist fairly then I’d definitely slide into that opportunity. But, for the most part, I see nothing but victory for these female MCs that don’t have major record deals because now they get to lay it down like how they want and they don’t have to put a whole lot into creating an image that’s not them. MC Lyte “Cha, Cha, Cha”AllHipHop.com: It’s common knowledge that female artists can often be “pushed” to project a certain image. The one’s who don’t are looked at with a slanted eye. You being a female MC who relied more on lyrics and less on high heels, have you found yourself questioned for your image.MC Lyte: Absolutely. I think every female, be it MC or any other artist, it’s all in how you come out and how you’re perceived. People are always going to look to put you in labels and boxes because it helps them to define who they are.  Whatever they’re trying to stick on you they got some stuff that helps them. It helps people when they can look at you and say, “That’s what that is and that’s what this person does.” I think it’s sad because you shouldn’t be defined by the clothes that you wear. Nor should you be defined by what someone else’s said who doesn’t even know you. It seems systematic, with me being the business as long as I have, I see MCs and singers who come in and immediately the finger gets pointed. “Do they do this, do they do that, are they into that? Is he gay, is she gay?” All of these things have nothing to do with their creative process, who they are, or what they bring to the table creatively. So because I’ve been in it so long it’s no surprise to me when I see it done to others. I expect it. And you keep going and after a while it doesn’t matter. It kind of fades away.MC Lyte “Ruffneck”AllHipHop.com: What would you like to see in the next great female MC?MC Lyte: Creativity, originality. Her being able to encompass everything. And actually there’s a huge amount of great female MCs. They’re just not all over your magazines and video shows. I know quite a few and the list spans from here to Germany. There’s a lot out there that certainly deserve the masses attention. AllHipHop.com: You have been able to maintain a presence in Hip-Hop by making slight adjusting your flow as the years go on. Is that a conscious effort or just natural progression?MC Lyte: It’s just me. It’s just growth. Like you don’t walk the same way you did when you were 15, right? It’s different. It’s life and your experiences cause you to walk a little different. Maybe you’ve had some sort of loss in your life, maybe you’ve lost someone dear to you. That could’ve slowed you down and made you walk a little differently. Disappointments can make you walk differently and things that are good and positive can make you walk differently. I know dudes with a whole lot of money walk different from a broke dude because it’s a different mentality. Me spitting differently is just growth. It’s a part of me. I don’t really concentrate on trying to make it different. I just listen to what the music tells me to do.         MC Lyte “Cappucino”AllHipHop.com: You’re one of the most successful female MC’s to date. How is it now being part of a group?MC Lyte: It’s wonderful. I used to be part of a group before I even started. To me it seems like I’m just going back to what feels natural. That being collaboration and working with people who want the same outcome. We all have the same goal in mind so I know there’s a team effort. It’s definitely something that feels good. You always have somebody else that has your back and you have theirs. It’s just family working together. Like if you tried to do AllHipHop.com by yourself, it’s not going to happen. You can struggle and try to make it happen but if you’re going to compete with all the other sites, you’re going to need some help. In essence, the beginning of this group, Almost September, is been making me stronger and me making them stronger.               AllHipHop.com: What can people expect from your new group, Almost September, as far as the content and the sound?MC Lyte: The content varies. We talk about good music, we talk about the revolution that’s lacking in today’s market place. We have a song called “Sparkle” where I talk about a girl who loses her life to crack but then gets it back. And we go into how she was able to get back on her own two feet and keep it moving on in a positive direction. I got a song called “I Got Something to Say” where I say some things that are not being said on a social and political front here in the United States of America. We talk about a lot of different things. What the fans need to know is that this group we put together for the purpose of people who enjoy hip-hop but have made their way into music. People like Anthony Hamilton, India.Arie, Lyfe Jennings. These people still love Hip-Hop but they don’t really feel like they’re getting what they need from Hip-Hop. And that’s not to say that the younger generation and the Hip-Hop that exists now is not worth anything. I’m a DJ. I love Jeezy, I love Joc. I love what those guys bring to the game because it’s very creative. We just wanted to create a sound that the generation I grew up with feels familiar and comfortable with and J.Lee is as young as you are and he provides that young balance with the group. I just think, in total it’s a great sound. It’s something familiar but something fresh and new about it. MC Lyte: Right now there’s a six song EP [Almost September] on the digital front. Any digital platform you go to you should be able to find Almost September. I say everyone should at least check it out. We’ve been getting very good responses from the regular Hip-Hop listeners to journalists and artists. It just feels good. MC Lyte “Stop, Look, Listen”AllHipHop.com: In addition to your achievements as an MC you’ve been gaining momentum as an actress. How’d you get into that and are you looking to develop that aspect more?MC Lyte: I’m going to keep developing that. I think, for the most part, that it’s important to set up a plan. And I think that it’s important for people to know that it’s all about forming partnerships. I’m a true believer that if you have a concept that you believe in no one can shake you from it. It doesn’t matter how long it takes to bring it to fruition because that what it takes. Everyone would do it if it were easy. How you hear me on projects like the BET dating show, The Boot, is that I’ve built relationships with people and I’m always telling them what I’m trying to do and they take me seriously. They know when something comes up they can call me and say, “You said you wanted to do this well, we have this. Are you interested?” so it’s just about forming partnerships and communicating with people and telling them what it is you want to do. AllHipHop.com: Looking back on some of the moves you made in the past, do you have any regrets?MC Lyte: That goes without saying. Once you’re older there’s a lot of things you’d want to do differently but you’ve got to live through it. It’s like your parents telling you don’t do that. You’re not going to not do that you’re going to do it and learn your lesson. They’ll say I told you so but at least you’ll feel you learned it on your own. It’s just like that. I had to learn things and in hindsight I might say maybe I should’ve did that differently. Or maybe I should’ve done this another way. But I also have to remember that I still have the days ahead of me so I can’t really think about those things.         AllHipHop.com: With you still touring and creating music, you are continuing to build on your legacy. What do you want your fan’s final thoughts to be?MC Lyte: That I helped people. I didn’t get whisked away in just me. In just being whoever the world thinks I am. It’s like in the song “Just Lyte” I say, “Everywhere I go they stop and stare but wait I breath the same air.” I’m no bigger, no larger, no different. I just have a message and I wouldn’t stop until somebody would listen to me. I believe I’ve been given this gift to help someone else.  However it comes through to somebody is how it comes through. In the end, I think that’s why we all have talents; to be able to help someone.