hall of female
interview by tadah

It was a while ago, some years ago, that we met MC Lyte. This female Emcee came to Switzerland, for the second time that year. This charming, tiny, and may I say: cute person, with the skillz that no one can doubt, hadn’t even released "Seven And Seven", so you can see, how long ago that was.

I was reading a lot of articles lately that have been written about you. In most of them you were talking about acting. How’s that going?

MC Lyte    It’s coming along.

You don’t wanna talk about it?

I wasn’t giving up any information in those interviews right?

No, you didn’t.

So I won’t. Not yet. I’m working on some things, but I don’t wanna say anything before it happens.

How important do you think is it, that females are part of hip hop?

I think it’s very important. Because you also need the view of a women in this hip hop field, because since it’s so male oriented, that otherwise you would only get a male sided view. I think it’s also good for women that listen to hip hop. They wanna hear a voice that says something that comes from them. So I think it’s very important.

What do you think, can we men learn from the female perspective and point of view?

Oh boy. I think it’s just wise to take everything in. So if a female is willing to let you into her world and see how she operates and handles situations, you should take this opportunity and vice versa.

What happened to the Lyte, that was urging for a "Ruffneck"?

She’s older now. She still wants a ruffneck, but a ruffneck that’s a little more into the same things I’m into. Back then, I was still finding my way and was just someone who was willing to grow. So I’m not looking for the same ruffneck, that I was looking back for then.

And what did you grow into?

Just myself, just knowing myself. What I like, what I don’t like. How I want my album to be, how I want to be perceived, just more in tune with who I am.

Speaking of albums: you worked with R.Kelly, Puffy, JD. Where do you go next, since these are three of the most sought after producers?

I’m working on the next album now, and I’m working with the Trackmasters and some guy called Guiani, who had some stuff out before. He did two tracks for me. I also got a track from Peter Panic. I got a track from The Prophecy, They just did Busta’s "Put Your Hands...", and I got two tracks from Jermain again. And I’m supposed to get two from Dr. Dre, so we see what happens.

That’s a lot of different kinds of flavor.

I guess you could say that.

When I was reading a lot of your reviews, many people seemed disappointed with your last album, because "Ain’t No Other" was in a completely different style. It seems like you are developing into a sound that tries to be in tune with a wider spectrum of people.

Probably. I’m incorporating more music into my music, that I like. You know, every chance that I get, I’m trying to become part of a song that existed already, that I was in love with from a child. Or I’m trying to add elements to a song, such as that, into one of my songs. You know things go through phases, not only me, but hip hop in general.

So you think the whole sampling of old songs, is just people sampling what they liked when they were young?

I think that’s what comes into play when you hear a song and want to sample it, because that song made you feel a certain way, when you were younger. I mean with "Cold Rock A Party", with Diana Ross, not only was she my favorite artist then, but she’s still one of my very favorite artists now. And to think back then, that in the future, I would be this rapper MC Lyte, who rapped on a Diana Ross song, I couldn’t even have imagined that happening. And to have made something like that happen, was a delight to me. I was glad that I was able to become a part of that song, in some type of fashion.

Could you bread down your albums and what do you think of them now, that you gained a bigger distance to ‘em?

It’s funny that you say that, because I listened to all of my albums, just a week ago.
"Lyte As A Rock" was the first. And to me it sounds like the first. I was just finding my way, what I wanted to talk about. But I was still strong in my convictions. I was still able to get my message across very strongly.
Right after that we did "Eyes On This". And that had more of a edge to it. I used a lot of different producers on that one: Parrish from EPMD, Grand Puba, Milk and Giz from the Audio Two, Marley Marl. And I was happy with the outcome, with the album as well, for that period of time.
And then after that "Act Like You Know" came. During that whole era, what was most constant in my mind was BBD’s (Bell Biv Devoe) remixes. What I think it was, they were capturing what Puffy was about to capture. As far as having hip hop with dance. Or as far as having Rap on top of a song that was R’n’B, but still had very strong hip hop influences to it. And when I heard that, I wondered how I could do this, how can I take it to where it needs to be. And at that point I sought for Wolf and Epic who had done the remixes for BBD. And I worked with them on four tracks for that album and I also worked with DJ Mark the 45 King, I worked with Milk and Giz, I had a couple of special appearances on that album. See I was happy for what it was worth at that time. A lot of people were like "ooh, she went R’n’B" but I needed to do that to make me complete. It made me content to do that album.
And then the next album after that, was "Ain’t No Other" which gave me "Ruff Neck" and "I Go On" from Teddy Riley. I worked with a kid named Backspin from Brooklyn, who still today is a very talented guy, who still has to have the opportunities, to really show what he’s capable of. That album came out in the ruffneck, hardcore hip hop era. And I was content with that album as well, for that time. When I listen to it now, I’m like "oh my god, I was screaming through this album the whole time". It sounds so "aarrggh", my voice is cutting the record or something. But people appreciated it for that time. Which is good for me.
And then "Bad As I Wanna Be" came. I read a lot of the reviews as well, and the reviews to me were like: "yes Lyte does something lyrically, but the production is not up to par". Or I even read one that said: "Lyte takes a few innuendoes from other rappers, while in fact she’s so large that she shouldn’t do that", or something to that affect. And I think they were talking about "Cold rock a party in a b-girl stance", that comes from Run-D.M.C. They were rapping, well before I was even going to hip hop clubs. That was my homage I paid for them. I was content with those beats, if not I wouldn’t have taken them. Jermaine did what he thought people wanted to hear from MC Lyte, you know after coming from years of listening to MC Lyte. Not only that, also from knowing me., I know Jermaine since I was 15 years old. He thought people wanted from MC Lyte, the hard MC Lyte on some smooth tip, and that’s how we got the "T.R.G." and the "Zodiac" happening and those kind of songs. But that album gave me "Keep On, Keeping On" and "Cold Rock A Party", with what I’m very happy with.
I’m happy with my history so far, I don’t think, of having done anything that I’m ashamed of. Somebody may point the finger and say I should have been ashamed of that, but as far as I’m concerned, I did what made me happy. And on the next album, I feel like my voice has even matured even more, and to me, judging from last week listening to these albums, I sound much more confident, in who I am, and where I am, and it just feels good. The next album is called "Seven And Seven".

What do you gain out of criticism?

Oh boy. First I gain hurt. And then once I get passed that, I can try to use it constructively. Providing that person gives it to me constructively.

How did hip hop develop for yourself and in general?

I would say, that it’s gotten back to a vibe that you can dance again. I think we can most certainly thank Puffy for that, that we can dance in clubs and not feel as though, as if we have to knock somebody out, while we are doing it. A lot of hip hop that has come out was depressive and not so dance orientated where as in the beginning I remember going to clubs and that’s what it was all about. Back in the day, with Rakim’s "I came in the door", people were dancing to that. To Biz Markie, to Big Daddy Kane, to KRS-One. And then, for some reason we had a low, and it wasn’t so dance orientated, or the hip hop clubs were closed and there was no way to go to hear hip hop where you can dance. You had to go to an underground place and there wasn’t really dancing happening, people were just standing around smoking their herb, drinking their drink, listening to hip hop. But now it has come to the point, it’s accepted to clubs now, and you can wear shoes, you even can wear sneakers, because they are that comfortable now that hip hop is not that off the wall, deranged culture, creating violent kids, that when they come to your club, they’re gonna tear it apart. I think we have proven ourselves, now that we are a taint people. That we can have a good time, without messing each other up or, the club.

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