In ’87, a fresh-faced 16 year old female emcee jumped feet first onto the Rap scene, immediately stamping her imprint. Her tom-boy aesthetic, b-boy essence and bravado-led delivery made her a standout in Hip-Hop‘s first golden era. To paint the picture, her contemporaries include Rakim, KRS-One, Big Daddy Kane, MC Shan and EPMD.
For MC Lyte, being Milk Dee from Audio Two’s (with DJ Gizmo) blood sister couldn’t hurt, but Lyte’s success is no case of nepotism.
Lyte blazed through the 80’s with hits like her debut single “I Cram To Undertsand U (Sam)“, “Paper Thin” and the scathing “10% dis“. The difference between MC Lyte and her peers would show as she entered the 90’s with jams: “Poor Georgie” and possibly her most impactful song, “Ruffneck“.
Even in the mid-90’s, the Brooklynite was still blazing with “Keep On Keepin On” featuring So So Def‘s Xscape, “Cold Rock A Party“. Its remix saw Puff Daddy and a young, soon-to-be legend Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott riding shotgun with a verse of her own. The iconic “I Wanna Be Down (Remix)“ with Brandy, Yo-Yo and Queen Latifah felt like a victory lap for Lyte.
Nowadays, you can catch her voice everywhere. Outside of “The Voice of God”, Morgan Freeman, she may very well be the most used black voice, commercially. The BET and Soul Train awards borrow her vocals almost exclusively.
The “Cha Cha Cha” rapper has actually been acting for quite some time. Probably best known for her recurring role as Kai Owen’s on the sitcom Half & Half in the early 2000’s. Fall 2021 sees our lady producing and starring in Partners In Rhyme. A new show coming to ALLBLK (formerly UMC) about raising a young, popular rapper who happens to be a foster child.
To further celebrate MC Lyte, check out THE COUPLECAST‘s take on their “Mt Rushmore” of female rap, where G-HOLY & Yasin Toure debate Lyte’s place on the list (jump to 51:36):