Born on this day in 1970, Lana Michelle Moorer has been a pillar of feminism and respect for women in Hip Hop since her 1986 debut. After her first single, “I Cram to Understand U” sent shock waves through the growing New York Hip Hop scene, Lyte was awarded a record deal from First Priority Music and given the ability to take her message to the street.
MC Lyte was the first woman to tackle any issue of feminism in Hip Hop and was in no way quiet about it. Her debut album, Lyte as a Rock, was a middle finger to Hip Hop’s male standard, serving as the first full-length album from a female rapper. Here stood a young woman lyrically holding her own in a sea of some of the most hungry and prolific MC’s in the genre’s history while simultaneously checking the whole industry on their lack of respect for the fairer sex. Her ability commanded a positive response and made her a new force to be reckoned with.
Her follow up album only did more for her career, creating her image as Hip Hop’s female kingpin, demanding respecting and delivering nothing but fire. This album, titled Eyes on This, also housed Lyte’s first hit single “Cha Cha Cha” which spent 18 weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot Rap Singles chart proving that MC Lyte was here to stay.
Lyte went on to release five more albums: Act Like You Know, Ain’t No Other, Bad As I Wanna Be, Seven & Seven, and Da Underground Heat, Vol. 1, all of which have been critically acclaimed and regarded as some of the golden era’s greatest work, male or female. She was the first female nominated for a Hip Hop Grammy (for the single “Ruffneck), the first to have an album sell gold (for Act Like You Know), and pretty much Hip Hop’s go-to girl during the golden age.
MC Lyte braved a trail that changed rap forever. Not since DJ Kool Herc’s legendary back to school party had there been such a monumental shift in Hip Hop culture. Because of MC Lyte, an entire gender now has a voice in Hip Hop music. Without her, there is no way of saying if any artist would have the courage to break the mold and pave the way for all the female MC’s we know and love today. On this day in Hip Hop history, we celebrate the life and career of MC Lyte. From everyone here at TheSource.com, Happy Born day MC Lyte. May you see many more years of success and good fortune.