Lana Michelle Moorer, better known as MC Lyte, was not lying when she said "never shall I be an emcee, called a wannabe." She’s been in the hip-hop world for over 30 years and is still one of the most acclaimed female rappers to ever do it.
During the time she rose to fame in the 80’s, rap lyrics revolved around fighting back against societal ailments, cultural pride, self-acceptance and an overall love of the craft. While many hip-hop artist today maintain that same vibe, MC Lyte told The Root that she does not think she would fit in to today’s rap landscape.
"I think that I would have a message that’s very much like I had when I first got into the game and I don’t know that that’s so popular now," she said. "I was on an anti-drug crusade and now when I listen to today’s hip-hop, it’s like, 'pop a molly, smoke a something;' it’s the promotion of drugs. So for me, a song like 'Poor Georgie' that tells of the demise of a young man who succumbed to all of these outside pressures of taking drugs, drinking, drinking and driving and all those things, I think my message would be a little different from what’s happening today."
Mc Lyte thanks God she entered "the game" when she did and she recently revisited her classic works as she performed on stage to kick off the Cincinnati Music Festival. The two-day music festival features world-renowned and up-and-coming artists in the genres of R&B, jazz, soul and hip-hop. MC Lyte also gave a keynote speech at the event and was elated to be considered for the opportunity by Cincinnati Music Festival sponsor, Procter & Gamble (P&G).
When explaining the longevity of hip-hop, she uses P&G as an example of how things can stand the tests of time through authenticity.
"It’s being real with what it is that you’re promoting, being authentic and then it’s also being able to really connect with people and I think the era that I hail from, we were not very different from our audience, although you know we did a lot of you braggadocious type stuff. I think the audience felt like we were cool, from the block and you could talk to us. And they could listen to the music and feel like they were part of it and not separate from it, so I think that’s what kept us winning," MC Lyte shared with The Root.
Her wins led her to tour with the greats, including Public Enemy, but MC Lyte’s status did not protect her from racial bias. In her words, "because (she is) a woman of color, every community is like (her) own." Wherever mistreatment and harm takes place against a brother or sister, she believes she takes on that experience as well and has seen unfortunate circumstances manifest while living out her dreams.
MC Lyte’s understanding of sisterhood and camaraderie allows her to examine situations like the constant debate over, "Can you support Cardi B and Nicki Minaj simultaneously?". While she believe artists, such as the aforementioned, can release work at the same time successfully, it is hard to move the entire platform forward if the conversation is to only support one at a time.
"There is something to be said for a sisterhood in that space and that’s all of us that look at hip-hop, is to be supportive of everyone at the same time," she said. "When we tend just be supportive of one, it doesn’t really empower all of us as women to say, 'Hey we’re going to push this platform of female emcees further and further.'"
When it comes to male rappers, she says if they know another rapper is pushing something out they either wait for another moment to release theirs or the rush to get it out before the other, but their objective is to not "meet face to face." So her solution to female "rap beef" is to essentially wait your turn or create your turn without stepping into the moment of someone else. In this case, you both would shine because the attention would be solely on who is up at the time.
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