FIRST LADY OF HIP HOP
Light As a Rock – The Legend MC Lyte
Rapper MC Lyte forged the way for other female MCs to find their way in the often-sexist, male-dominated world of hip hop. Lyte became the first female rap artist to achieve gold certification for her single “Ruffneck.” In six albums, she produced four Number One rap singles.
Lyte was born Lana Moorer, in Queens and raised in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn, New York. She began rapping when she was 12, learning from her brothers Milk and Gizmo of the rap group Audio Two. Her father, Nat Robinson, started the First Priority record label in 1987, and her brothers appeared on her first three albums. Her first single, “I Cram to Understand U (Sam),” became an instant cult classic. The song is about a woman who has to compete for her man’s attentions, but her competition isn’t another woman, it’s crack cocaine. The single, released when Lyte was still a teen, set a standard for adult, hard-core rap that has rarely been equaled since. Her first album, Lyte as a Rock, was released on First Priority in 1988 and produced by her brothers. The album contained samples from Ray Charles, Helen Reddy, and the Four Seasons. It’s notable for its narrative songs, like “10% Dis” and “Paper Thin,” that tell fleshed-out stories featuring doomed but interesting characters. Despite the assertive, in-your-face persona Lyte shows in her music and onstage, the artist is known for her soft-spoken demeanor behind the scenes.