Being a female emcee is hard enough, but imagine being one of the first female rappers ever, in a music genre that was still in its infancy.
Take it a step further and imagine not only being one of the first female rappers but also becoming a respected lyricist, a commercial asset, and a hip-hop legend. That’s MC Lyte in a nutshell but that’s only her career in hip-hop.
From the minute Lyte stepped to the microphone, she instantly became a role model for young women across the globe, not only for her lyrical skills but also for the fact that she was always a class act.
Now a veteran and a pioneer, Lyte continues to do what she does best, and that’s uplifting the hip-hop culture. From charity work to her new band, MC Lyte is at it like never before. Sixshot.com was able to catch up with MC Lyte to discuss her current projects, her past successes, and her status as a legend in the game.
Sup girl, how are you?
I’m doing excellent, thank you.
Okay, as far as female rappers go, you're the one and a lot of people feel that way. What was it like being one of the first female rappers in the world?
It was really just a matter of timing I guess. It just happened but it feels great to have experienced it all rather early on in the game when the culture while the cultur Your browser does not support inline frames or is currently configured not to display inline frames. e was still growing and developing.
"I Cram to Understand You" is the record that got you signed. It was real deep and had a lot of different content, especially for the time. How did you come up with such an interesting concept so early in your career?
Growing up on the streets of New York will sometimes have you thinking like that. It’s all fictitious but all the places mentioned were real.
At what point in your career did you realize like "wow, I'm famous now"?
I would have to say I really started to notice and it really started to sink in when I performed in 27 thousand seaters and everyone was singing the lyrics along with me that was amazing. Also, when the New York Times did a half page article on Lil’ ole’ Lyte. (Laughs)
How much would you say the rap game has changed from when you first came in?
It’s all big business now. It has put a lot of people of color to work, which is a positive thing. I just think we need a little more balance in terms of the content in the music.
You came in the game so early, being one of the first, who would you say were some of your musical influences?
I would say Salt N Pepa, Sweet T, Janet Jackson, Spoonie G, everybody! So many people have influenced me in terms of music.
How do you feel about the female hip-hop artists of today?
I love the fact that there are a variety of women that exist within the game today, it wasn’t always like that. The fact that there are so many different women in the game really makes it a lot more colorful.
You recently did Celebrity Rap Superstar where you coached Shar Jackson and she got the win. She has said repeatedly how great you were as a coach. What was that experience like?
It was a real cool experience. It gave the world a chance to see that MC’ing ain’t easy and that it’s a form of art that you have to work at and practice at, like anything else.
You donated your diary to the Smithsonian for a hip-hop exhibit and not many artists get a chance to be a part of something this great, how does it feel to be considered such an important part of hip-hop history?
Oh, it feels great! I really wanted to give something so that long after my death I could be remembered as an important part of hip-hop as a for of music and as a culture.
You've been through every stage of hip-hop, which is a lot, which is your favorite
Most definitely the early days were my favorite. The early 90’s were much more carefree and fun. It was a great vibe.
You're involved in a lot of important charity work, why is it so important for you to give back?
It’s real important because I can never forget where I come from. I have to try and be the inspiration that other gave me at some point or another in my life.
You were honored at the VH1 Hip Hop Honors , how did that feel?
The process was a lot of fun. I had a real good time working with the ladies and The Roots trying to just make it a great performance. It is definitely an experience I will always remember.
You've always been an excellent role model for young ladies; do you have any advice for them?
Hold on to your purse. (Laughs) Make sure you keep yourself first and then make time for others. No one is going to take care of you like you do.
You've been through your share of hip-hop battles, how do you feel about how the "Beef" stuff has escalated, and become such a prominent part of hip-hop today
Beef is only good for one thing, and that’s records. It should always stay on wax.
Everybody else does, but does MC Lyte consider herself a legend?
What are you currently working on?
I’m really focused on a new group that I’m a part of called Almost September. We’re a band and we do hip-hop/soul. If you want to check us out check the myspace page at myspace.com/almostseptember.
Anything you'd like to say to the fans at Sixshot.com?
I would like to say thanks for the support and if you’re new to loving hip-hop seek to know the truth and study the history. Knowing the truth about the origins of hip-hop and studying its history is a fun process.
MTS Centre, Winnipeg - May 26, 2008
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