MC Lyte 1971–

views updated May 23 2018

MC Lyte 1971


At a Glance

Selected discography


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 mans attentions, but her competition isnt another woman, its 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. Its 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.

Lytes follow up to Lyte as a Rock, Eyes on This, was released a year after her debut, when she was just 19. The album maintained her reputation as an insult-hurling tough talker who rapped to hard, simple beats, People critic Michael Small wrote. It featured production by Grand Puba and the hit single Cha Cha Cha, which reached number one on the rap charts. Lyte took a courageous stand against violence in the haunting song Cappuccino. I only write about what I go through, Lyte said in an interview located online at Artist Direct. Or things Ive learned along the way. She became an anti-violence spokesperson, namely for the Stop the Violence campaign, which took her into schools to speak to kids. She also appeared in public service announcements for the Rock the Vote campaign, which featured her song Im Not Having It. She appeared in PSAs for Musicians for Life and supported various AIDS charities. Lyte became the first rapper to perform at Carnegie Hall at a 1990 AIDS benefit.

Lyte hired R&B producers Wolf and Epic, of Bel Biv Devoe fame, to produce her third release, Act Like You Know, which came out in 1991. The result was a smoother, more soulful turn for the artist. Despite the commercial success of the singles When In Love, Poor Georgie, and Eyes Are the Soul, Lytes fans despaired that their aggressive, street-smart diva had softened her style. People critic Small noted that, in trying to branch out into the R&B genre, Lyte was spreading herself too thin, and risked pleasing no one. While she was talented in both genres, he wrote, maintaining her consistent skills and proving shes a great storyteller, the departure put her in a confusing middle ground.

On her fourth release, 1993s Aint No Other, Lyte returned to her harder-edged rhymes, much to the

At a Glance

Born Lana Moorer, October 11, 1971 in Queens, NY.

Career: Began rapping when she was 12; father Nat Robinson founded the First Priority record label, 1987; released first single, I Cram to Understand U (Sam) 1987; released Lyte as a Rock, 1988; released Eyes on This, 1989; single Cha Cha Cha, reached number one on the rap charts; became the first rapper to perform at Carnegie Hall, 1990; released Act Like You Know, 1991; Aint No Other, 1993; was nominated for a Grammy award for Best Rap Single for Ruffneck and earned the first-ever gold certification for record sales by a female rap artist; signed to Elektra and released Bad As I Wanna B, 1996; earned her second gold record for Keep On Keepin On, 1996; released Seven & Seven, 1998; acted on TVs Moesha, In the House, New York Undercover, For Your Love, and in the film A Luv Tale; began doing voice-overs, founded her own management company, Duke Da Moon Productions; signed a three-year deal with Sirius Satellite Radio.

Address: Website

relief of her fans. Back to basics, she said in a Billboard interview at the time, thats whats happening to rap music now. I worked with some young, hungry rappers. Being around them gave me a whole different feel. KRS-ONE from Boogie Down Productions contributed a few lines at the albums start to introduce it, and Lyte laid out an aggressive affront to disrespecting rapper Roxanne Shanté on Steady F. King. Lyte intentionally avoided moral or message songs on this album, she later said, to avoid sounding too much like she was preaching. Though Lyte enjoys listening to message-driven rap, she told Billboard, evidently core hip-hop fans dont want to hear that. They want to party, so I gave them fat beats and fat lyrics about me. The single Ruffneck was produced by Wreckx N Effect, and was nominated for a Grammy award for Best Rap Single, and earned the first-ever gold certification for record sales by a female rap artist. She spent the summer of 1994 on a sold-out tour, opening for Janet Jackson. She also made an appearance on Jacksons song You Want This. She teamed up with fellow female rappers Yo Yo and Queen Latifah to create the hit remix of singer Brandys I Wanna Be Down.

Lytes fifth album, Bad as I Wanna B, found her on a new record label, Elektra/Asylum. It also found her with a heightened sense of responsibility for the music she made, and the impact it had on her fans. It once was considered cool to curse on rap records, to prove you were the baddest, Lyte admitted in an Essence interview, according to a 1996 People review. Now I feel responsible for what comes out of my mouth. That said, she practically began the album with an expletive, but toned it down as the album played out. She earned her second gold record for Keep On Keepin On, which appeared on Bad As I Wanna B. She teamed up with the female R&B group X-Scape on the song, which won a Soul Train Award and was featured on the Sunset Park soundtrack. That album also contained Lytes hit single Cold Rock A Party, which featured Lyte teamed up for a duet with hip-hop diva Missy Elliot.

Elliot was featured again on Lytes 1998 release, Seven & Seven, on three tracks, In My Business, Too Fly, and Want What I Got. Artists Giovanni and L.L Cool J. who produced the track Play Girls Play, also lent a hand. She hired producers the Neptunes to handle and co-write Closer, I Cant Make a Mistake, and Its All Yours, which also featured vocals by singer Gina Thompson. I have always believed in collaboration, Lyte said in her online bio located at Some of my best work has been when Im vibing with others.

Beyond recording records and releasing increasingly popular singles, many female MCs began to diversify in the late 1990s. Some started record companies, some went into acting. Lyte went to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. She has appeared in such television sitcoms as Moesha and In the House, and on the drama New York Undercover, and plays a recurring role as Lana on the show For Your Love. She also appeared in the independent film A Luv Tale. I know I can do both, Lyte said of acting and hip hop in her bio located online at but hip hop is my first love.

After the success of the Cold Rock A Party, Lyte began doing voice-overs. Hers was the voice behind a national advertising campaign for Wherehouse Music. She was the voice little girls heard after Christmas of 2000 from the African-American Chat Doll, named Tia, manufactured by Mattel. She founded her own management company, Duke Da Moon Productions, which handled the groups Isis and Born In Hell, a Brooklyn rap unit. She also signed a three-year deal with Sirius Satellite Radio. who hired her to host a musical show that airs three time daily. She also hosted a talk show for Sirius, interviewing black celebrities and entertainers such as Whoopi Goldberg, Vivica Fox, and Tisha Campbell.

Looking back on a career that started when she was just a teenager, Lyte is able to find pride and a valuable lesson in her experiences. Im proud of how long Ive been in the business, she said in the Artist Direct interview. Of course when I started I never imagined some of the things you have to go through. But anything you do in life is about meeting the challenges. What I tell any young people who want to get into this business is you have to be prepared to never give up. Rhino Records released a collection of MC Lytes work in 2001 called The Very Best of MC Lyte.

Selected discography

Lyte as a Rock, First Priority, 1988.

Eyes on This, First Priority, 1989.

Act Like You Know, Atlantic, 1991.

Aint No Other, First Priority, 1993.

Bad as I Wanna B, Elektra/Asylum, 1996.

Seven & Seven, Elektra/Asylum, 1998.

Badder Than B-Fore, East West, 1998.

The Very Best of MC Lyte, Rhino, 2001.



George-Warren, Holly, and Patricia Romanowski, eds., Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, Rolling Stone Press, 2001.

Larkin, Colin, Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Muze UK Ltd., 1998.


People, January 27, 1992, p. 21; September 9, 1996, p. 26.

Billboard, June 26, 1993, p. 29; August 19, 2000, p. 34.


MC Lyte Homepage, (March 13, 2002).

Artist Direct, (March 13, 2002).

All Music Guide, (March 13, 2002).

Brenna Sanchez

MC Lyte 1971–

views updated Jun 27 2018

MC Lyte 1971–

(Lana Moorer, Lana "MC Lyte" Moorer, Lana Michele Moorer, Lisa "MC Lyte" Moorer)


Full name, Lana Michele Moore; born October 11, 1971, in Queens, NY; daughter of Nat Robinson.


Actress. Provided voice for Old Navy commercial, 2005.


Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority (honorary member).

Awards, Honors:

Grammy Award nomination, best rap performance—solo, 1993, for "Ruffneck"; Soul Train Lady of Soul Award nomination (with Janet Jackson), music video of the year, 1995, for "You Want This"; MTV Music award nomination (with others), best rap video, 1995, for "I Wanna Be Down"; Soul Train Lady of Soul Music Award (with Xscape), best R&B/soul or rap music video, 1996, for "Keep On, Keepin' On"; Grammy Award nomination, best rap solo performance, 2003, for "Ride Wit Me"; Billboard Artist of the Year Award; two Gold records, two Gold singles and a Platinum single, Recording Industry Association of America.


Film Appearances:

Akusa, Fly by Night, 1992.

Sista Tu Lumumba, An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn (also known as Burn Hollywood Burn), Buena Vista, 1997.

Aklia, A Luv Tale, 1999.

Katrina Daniels, Train Ride, Ruff Nation Films, 2000.

Sergeant Cervantes, Civil Brand, Lions Gate Films, 2002.

La Quinta, Playas Ball, Summertime Films, 2003.

Herself, There's a God on the Mic (documentary), Creanspeak Productions, 2005.

Herself, Letter to the President (documentary), Image Entertainment, 2005.

Herself, The Art of 16 Bars: Get Ya' Bars Up (documentary), Image Entertainment, 2005.

Syrin, Da Jammies (animated short), Rhino Entertainment Company, 2006.

Television Appearances; Series:

Judge, Star Search, CBS, 2004.

(As Lana "MC Lyte" Moorer) Kai Owens, Half & Half, The CW, 2004–2006.

Television Appearances; Specials:

Sisters in the Name of Rap, 1992.

NBA All–Star Stay in School Jam, Nickelodeon, Black Entertainment Television, NBA Entertainment, NBC and TNT, 1992.

Growing Up in the Age of AIDS: An ABC News Town Meeting for the Family—With Peter Jennings, ABC, 1992.

Kids in the Crossfire: Violence in America, ABC, 1993.

Performer, The 9th Annual Soul Train Music Awards, syndicated, 1995.

The 42nd Annual L.A. County Arts Commission Holiday Celebration, 2001.

The 2003 Essence Awards, Fox, 2003.

Hip Hop Babylon 2, VH1, 2003.

I Love the '80s Strikes Back, VH1, 2003.

Presenter, The 17th Annual Soul Train Music Awards, The WB, 2003.

Apollo at 70: A Hot Night in Harlem, NBC, 2004.

I Wanna Thank My Mama: The BET Awards*04 Nomination Special, Black Entertainment Television, 2004.

The 4th Annual BET Awards, Black Entertainment Television, 2004.

And You Don't Stop: 30 Years of Hip–Hop, VH1, 2004.

Host, VH1 Hip–Hop Honors, VH1, 2004.

My Coolest Years, VH1, 2004.

Ego Trip's Race–O–Rama, VH1, 2004.

Black in the 80s, VH1, 2005.

Live 8, 2005.

Made You Look: Top 25 Moments of BET History, Black Entertainment Television, 2005.

3rd Annual VH1 Hip–Hop Honors, VH1, 2006.

Television Appearances; Episodic:

Herself, "Yo MTV Rap Unplugged," Unplugged (also known as MTV Unplugged), MTV, 1991.

In Living Color, Fox, 1992.

Late Night with Conan O'Brien, NBC, 1993.

Herself, "You Get No Respect," New York Undercover (also kwon as Uptown Undercover), Fox, 1995.

Herself, "Kill the Noise," New York Undercover (also known as Uptown Undercover), Fox, 1996.

Herself, "A Concerted Effort: Part 2," Moesha, UPN, 1996.

The Rosie O'Donnell Show, syndicated, 1997.

(As Lana Michele Moorer) Lulu, "Working Overtime: Part 2," In the House, UPN, 1998.

Lana, "The Cuckoo's Nest," For Your Love, The WB, 1998.

(As Lana "MC Lyte" Moorer) Beth Hunter, "Denial," Get Real, Fox, 1999.

Lana, "Accidental Doctor," For Your Love, The WB, 2000.

Lana, "Pre–Nuptial Disagreement," For Your Love, The WB, 2000.

Lana, "The Reunion," For Your Love, The WB, 2002.

Guest, Holla, Black Entertainment Television, 2002.

(As Lana "MC Lyte" Moorer) Karla, "Russian Winter," The District, CBS, 2002.

Camille Fareal, "Loyalty," Platinum, UPN, 2003.

(As Lana Moorer) Nikki, "Prescriptions," Strong Medicine, Lifetime, 2003.

Herself, Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry (also known as Def Poetry and Def Poetry Jam), HBO, 2004.

Herself, "The Return of Bobby Shaw," My Wife and Kids, ABC, 2004.

Herself, "Office Antics," Love Lounge, 2005.

Herself, "Getting It On–line," Love Lounge, 2005.

Herself, Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D–List, Bravo, 2005.



Lyte as a Rock, First Priority, 1988.

Eyes on This, First Priority, 1989.

Act Like You Know, Atlantic, 1991.

Ain't No Other, First Priority, 1993.

Bad As I Wanna B, Elektra/Asylum, 1996.

Seven & Seven, Elektra/Asylum, 1998.

Badder Than B–Fore, East West, 1998.

The Very Best of MC Lyte, Rhino, 2001.

Da Underground Heat, Vol. 1, Imusic, 2003.

The S*** I Never Dropped, Unda Ground Kings, 2003.

Rhyme Masters, 2005.

Music Videos:

Lyte Years, Atlantic, 1991.

Herself, Female American Rap Stars, Ardustry Home Entertainment, 2004.

Herself, "You Want This," From Janet. To Damita Jo: The Videos, EMI Distribution, 2004.

Also appeared in Will Smith's "Wild Wild West"; LSG's "Curious."


Film Scores:

Sunset Park, 1996.



Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, Schirmer, 2001.

Contemporary Black Biography, Vol. 34, Gale Group, 2002.

Contemporary Musicians, Vol. 8, Gale Research, 1992.


Billboard, June 26, 1993, p. 29.


MC Lyte Web Site,, October 28, 2006.