The Lyte can be seen and heard. While she's being heard, it can be said that it's an experience. An experience that serves as a reminder of a time where many argue that hip-hop had its greatest moments of relevancy. Hip-hop is still here, and it is still relevant.
MC Lyte is a reminder of the music genre's relevance. She epitomizes what we long to hear when hearing much of today's sound. Lyte shines not only in her musical accomplishments, but also in her voice-over work, acting and most of all in philanthropy.
Recently, I had the pleasure of conversing with the woman of hip-hop. We talked about the past, present and future. Read on.
Thank you for taking the time to talk with me today, Lyte.
Thank you as well, Bryan.
When did you first fall in love with hip-hop? Did you ever know that you would one day be this big of an influence for our generation and many generations to come?
I first fell in love with hip-hop very early on listening to Treacherous Three, Kurtis Blow and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. I spent a lot of time in Harlem at my cousin's place, which is where I got to hear all of this music that wasn't going on in Brooklyn. That's when I first fell in love with hip-hop. Did I know whether I would be an inspiration? That was my goal; I set out to be an inspiration. So, I guess in some ways I made it part of the plan, and it still very much is for me to remain an inspiration to folks. That's very important to me.
We all look back on our lives because we know that the past is pivotal towards the decisions that we make today and tomorrow. As you reflect on your life from a personal and a professional standpoint, how do you, MC Lyte, reflect on your own life? What is your process for reflection?
Oh boy! I am enjoying where I am now. So, I guess that means that whatever I've done before turned out to put me in a good place where I'm comfortable being -- that is being highly regarded in the hip-hop world from what it is I've been able to give in my past years and my participation within hip-hop. When I reflect, it feels good. I don't think I'm done yet. There's much more work to be done, definitely in the realm of helping others realize what it is that they want to do within hip-hop.
That brings us to your work in philanthropy. I understand that you have founded a non-profit organization dedicated to helping young ladies looking to break into the hip-hop world.
Hip-Hop Sisters is set up like a network so that women can get the answers that they need to somehow be affluent in a business that doesn't necessarily make a great pathway for them, so they have to trail blaze, knock out boulders that are in the way because that terrain has never been walked.
That is a phenomenal resource that wasn't available when you first came onto the scene. You being a woman, the first in an industry dominated by men; you came onto the scene and decided that this is what you're going to do. What was the reaction you were met with?
Some people were extremely accommodating and others didn't understand it. I guess it's just like anything, once you show people then it makes sense to them. They don't always get the full picture by you just expressing what it is you like to do, you have to show them. These young women will meet the challenges that I did, but they'll have the tools to deal with those challenges.
Where does the name "Lyte" come from? How did you arrive at that specific name?
Well, "Lyte" just being a very positive word, the truth is the "Lyte" and the truth shall set you free. All of this coming from the impetus of "Lyte," I just felt like it was everything positive that I wanted to have be ingrained in who I am, the lyrics that I write and create and what it is I give to the world.
You were born Lana Michelle Moorer, we know you as MC Lyte. The perception that people tend to have of those in the business of music and show is that the public persona is different than the real person. Is there a difference between Lana Michelle and Lyte?
No, you're definitely dealing with the same person here. I believe that's why I've been able to last in this business for as long as I have is because there is no pretending. It's extremely real. There's nothing I have to pick up or put down when I'm me. There's no form of acting, it's just who I am. My lyrics portray what I believe. I'm just me, one and the same.
We all know that all of your songs are an extension of you and who you are. I believe strongly that's why we all feel that we know you. Of all the songs in your career, which would you say is the most unique and personal to you and to who you are?
They're all my songs, they're all personal. I've written them all, except for "Cha Cha Cha." I didn't write it, but I feel I have a personal connection to that song because I rapped it, when I hear it I know that's my voice, when I see the video I realize that I was present for that. Those are not necessarily my thoughts. But, to name one song, there's no way I could possibly do that. There are certain songs that I like performing more than others, but overall I'm connected to them all, I've spent time with them all. They're like my little babies.
Can we expect a new album anytime soon?
I don't know. I'm working on some stuff. I've learned to except that I'm not always able to finish things as soon as I would like to. I'm not quite sure when I would have that available.
You do quite a bit of voice-over work. Your voice is so powerful and so distinctive and I feel like I hear it everywhere. As far as the performing arts are concerned, personally I would love to see you do more television and film. Can we expect anything else of that nature from you in the near future?
It just takes time. It really does. For all the time that it takes to prepare to pretend to be someone else, I'm doing so much with just being me. (Laughs) Being me is very fulfilling.
We may stop and think that MC Lyte is Lyte as a Rock, but with her contributions to hip-hip we'll always know her to carry much more weight.