MC Lyte gave female emcees the blueprint to find success in Hip Hop and beyond
The conversation about females in Hip Hop is a sensitive subject. Even if most people don’t want don’t want to address it, the industry is difficult for them. African American women in general, have endured a lot historically speaking.
When it comes to them stepping into a male-dominated playing field things can get strenuous. Hip Hop as a musical art form has been in existence for approximately 40 years. Yet and still, in that 40-year time frame, women have had to fight their way into the spotlight most times. The men in Hip Hop get to share the spotlight while the women battle to earn and keep it.
There’s enough room for everyone to shine and the women at the roots of Hip Hop were able to illustrate that. Male emcees, DJs, producers, and artists are known to give the ladies a chance to flex their skills. Females had been rocking the mic from the very beginning, and then MC Lyte came along and dropped an album.
Lana Michelle Moorer better known as MC Lyte was born in October of 1970. Raised in Brooklyn, New York she began rapping at the age of 12. Being a rhyming female among her talented male friends earned her a recording contract. Her first single “I Cram to Understand U (Sam)” became popular and showcased her artistry. The song is about a woman who is competing against crack cocaine for her man’s attention, opposed to another woman.
Lyte released her first album “Lyte as a Rock” in September 1988. It was written over the course of many years meaning she was penning rhymes at an early age. A year later at age 19, she released her second album “Eyes on This”.
MC Lyte proved she was here to stay with her sophomore album. The album peaked at #6 on Billboard’s US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, and her single “Cha Cha Cha” spent 18 weeks on the Billboard Hot Rap Singles charts, peaking at #1. By 1991 she showed there was no holding back and released her third album “Act Like You Know”.
This time Lyte expressed more versatility showing a softer side on the album. The project had more of an R&B new jack swing sound featuring hit single “Georgie Peorgie”. Overall the album received mixed reviews, however, it established the MC as an artist.
Persistence pays off
MC Lyte was consistent in her delivery and gave us a fourth album in 1993. “Ain’t No Other” became her first piece of work to reach gold status and it produced her first top 40 pop hit, “Ruffneck”. She had achieved #1 on the Rap Singles listing but this time she saw chart success on Billboard Hot 100. The song made her the first female solo rap artist ever nominated for a Grammy.
MC Lyte kept that same energy and delivered another Gold album with her fifth project “Bad As I Wanna B”. She is the first female solo rapper in history to achieve gold status. She climbed even further up the Billboard Hot 100 with “Keep on, Keepin’ On” peaking at #10. Collaborating with fellow MC and up and coming songwriter and producer Missy Elliot resulted in “Cold Rock a Party”. This single peaked at #11.
At the age of 25, she had already unknowingly blazed a trail and set the standard. She went on to have acting roles on television and in motion pictures. Since her career began at the age of 17 she has become an established artist, actress, philanthropist, DJ, entrepreneur, and voice over talent. Most of importantly she helped give women a voice in Hip Hop.
MC Lyte lives on and is still in her prime with so much to offer the culture. She is recognized as one of the pioneering females in Hip Hop. Lyte is also the first rap artist ever to perform at New York’s historic Carnegie Hall. In 2013 she received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2013 Hip Hop Inaugural Ball.
Lyte was one of the first to speak up about the adversity of women in Hip Hop. History does repeat itself, but hopefully, we can make subtle changes to the benefit of the ladies in Hip Hop culture. We must continue to celebrate these women. They stand together with all the pillars supporting the foundation, as they too have forged a path to follow.
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