MC Lyte is one of hip-hop’s treasures. When you consider what it takes to just make a name in the music industry and maintain relevance without compromising your integrity, it makes her journey from the streets of Brooklyn to literally being the voice of multi-million dollar companies that much more fascinating.
It’s been 25 years since the MC, actress, lecturer and philanthropist became the first solo female rapper to release a full album with 1988’s classic Lyte As A Rock. In that time she has released six more studio albums, been nominated for two Grammys and had five songs top the US rap Charts. Possessing one of the most distinctive voices in hip-hop Lyte took her vocal talents to Hollywood, doing voice over work for Tide, AT&T, The National Urban League an the Starz network. Not to mention her work in front of the camera with roles on “Moesha,” “In The House, “Get Real” and “Half & Half.”
But music is never something she could leave behind and Lyte has dropped two new songs in anticipation of a new solo album in 2015.
The first song she released, “Dear John” is produced by Loud Box and features Common and 10 Beats. The pensive track is part of a movement called #EducateOurMen where she gives supplemental scholarships to young men attending HBCUS.
“The song is just an ode to young fellas going through it and having to face the struggle of what’s happening today in terms of lack of education, lack of jobs,” she tells WatchLOUD.com. “Just giving them some inspiration.”
It’s very different from the first time that she and Common collaborated in 2000 on his album Like Water For Chocolate for the track “A Film Called Pimp.”
“That was all done in fun,” she says. “Common actually wrote the lyrics [to that] and came and found me to do it. This one was different. I had three verses down but we thought it would sound so great with a male vocal on it and when we thought of the topic and texture of the music we thought Common was the one to do it.”
The second song she released is the more upbeat “Ball” featuring Lil’ Mama and AV, and the video finds the three artists marching to establish their own rhythm nation and celebrating that they have won the game of thrones.
“‘Ball’ is very different from ‘Dear Jon,” says Lyte. “It is what’s happening today in terms of the sound quality of it and we’re just having fun. Lyrical acrobatics. It’s old meets new, fresh meets true….it’s great!”
Watch our interviews below where Lyte talks about her new songs and her recent reunion with Brandy, Queen Latifah and Yo Yo to perform the “I Wanna Be Down” remix at the 2014 BET Hip-Hop Awards.