by RiotSound contributing writer Todd Davis
When one thinks of Hip-Hop, especially women in rap, it would be criminal not to include this veteran rhyme-stress in your favorites list of top ten MCs. Born Lana Moorer in Brooklyn, New York, MC Lyte fell in love with music at an early age. By the time Lyte was twelve she was already rapping, and a few short years later with 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 aspiring femcee would soon land a promising recording contract with First Priority Music, dropping her now classic debut LP Lyte As A Rock in 1988. In 1993 Lyte would become the first solo female rap artist to be nominated for a Grammy, receiving the nod for her seminal anthem “Ruffneck” in the category of Best Rap Single. To date MC Lyte has released ten albums and continues to endure as one of the most heralded and respected figures in all of Hip-Hop. In 2006 her personal diary along with artifacts and memorabilia from other Hip-Hop pioneers was donated to the Smithsonian Institute for a collection that will trace the history of Hip-Hop from its humble beginnings in the Bronx to what has now become a bona fide global phenomenon. In recent years, however, Lyte has been known more for her varied roles as an aspiring actress in feature films, television and voiceover work than for her contributions to music. But it appears that all of that is about to change. RiotSound.com recently caught up with the 2006 VH-1 Hip-Hop Award honoree to see where she’s been and what exactly she’s got brewing for us in 2008. Read the interview and see the Lyte!
RIOTSOUND.COM: First things first, congratulations on your victory as mentor to Shar Jackson on MTV’s Celebrity Rap Superstar!
MC LYTE: Thank you.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Let’s just jump right into your brand new project; you’ve titled your forthcoming new album Back To Lyte.
MC LYTE: Back To Lyte is in limbo. Full album, hot to death, but looking for the right distribution has proven to be tiresome. We’ve been offered a couple of situations but none of them are quite right.
RIOTSOUND.COM: How do you feel this album compares to your previous releases?
MC LYTE: Right now we are talking about “Beautiful”, and that song is from a different project. I am with a group [now] for this release, and the group is called Almost September. The project is different in that it’s three of us and I’ve never been part of a group. The music is soul Hip-Hop. Meaning [it’s] good for your soul and full of consciousness.
RIOTSOUND.COM: As far as the album’s production, who contributed to this project?
MC LYTE: I worked with the two other members in the group that are producers, Jared and Whitey.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Are you at all involved in the whole studio process when it comes to the music itself?
MC LYTE: From start to finish.
RIOTSOUND.COM: What motivates you when you write your rhymes?
MC LYTE: Observation!
RIOTSOUND.COM: Any highlights, special guest appearances or favorite tracks that you’d like to point out at this time?
MC LYTE: A few, but until we clear the use from all other labels we’d rather not say.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Let’s take it back to your early beginnings, when did music first enter into your life?
MC LYTE: I loved music from a young child; Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, The O’Jays and Teena Marie – John Taylor, Barry Manilow, Billy Joel, Elton John and everything else [too]. Once I got a hold of Hip-Hop, I knew I could actually be a part of history.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Who would you say were some of your biggest Hip-Hop influences?
MC LYTE: [The] Hip-Hop greats; KRS One, P.E., Rakim [and] Salt-N-Pepa.
RIOTSOUND.COM: When did you first aspire to pursue MCing?
MC LYTE: When I heard Salt-N-Pepa. If they could do it, so could I!
RIOTSOUND.COM: Your moniker, MC Lyte, where did it come from?
MC LYTE: Lyte, meaning everything positive. It’s all good!
RIOTSOUND.COM: Describe for some of the younger fans the style of music that you create and perform?
MC LYTE: Easily digested.
RIOTSOUND.COM: What would you say has been the secret to your success?
MC LYTE: Just belief in one self. Its knowing that at the end of the day [that] even if it’s just you, you will push and promote yourself.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Outside of music and movies, do you have any other aspirations?
MC LYTE: I think I will write a few books.
RIOTSOUND.COM: How do you feel about the future of Hip-Hop music?
MC LYTE: I feel there needs to be more balance and more coverage of Hip-Hop music that deserves to be promoted. There should be more women given huge deals and the opportunity to shine and be marketed to everyone.
RIOTSOUND.COM: What is the biggest misconception about you as an artist?
MC LYTE: I am music, so they will get everything [about me when they listen to it]. But the most important thing is that I care.
RIOTSOUND.COM: To date, what has been your biggest career highlight?
MC LYTE: Not sure. I have many; Grammy nominations, TV shows, collabos.
RIOTSOUND.COM: What’s your five to ten year plan?
MC LYTE: One day at a time is how I do it.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Just wondering, is the DJ Premier laced “Wonder Years” still the set-up single for Back To Lyte?
MC LYTE: “Wonder Years” was put out one year ago. Right now my focus is [on] the new group, Almost September.
RIOTSOUND.COM: I know you recently wrapped up the VH1 Hip-Hop Honors Tour with Big Daddy Kane and The Roots; any more touring coming up for you?
MC LYTE: [I’m] always on the road. Hope to see ya soon!
RIOTSOUND.COM: Any message that you want to relay to the readers of RiotSound.com?
MC LYTE: Thanks for the support. I know who loves me, and I feel it from my fans everyday!