MC Lyte: Award Tour
The more that things
change, the more things stay the same. Not so in the case of MC Lyte. Ten years
after her only Grammy nomination, she has been nominated again for "Best
Solo Performance By A Female MC For A Track Or Single, a new category the world-famous
award program offers. She has time and again persevered without the luxuries
of a major label and continually justifies her 17 years in the music industry.
While her name
continues to pass through many conversations throughout music and Hollywood
circles, she maintains her sense of self. MC Lyte wants the public to be aware
that her success did not come to be because of any bureaucracy or red tape.
Before taking a trip to Africa, she sat with Allhiphop.com to give her recipe
for longevity, and why she feels her Grammy nomination was not a fluke.
We received word that you were recently nominated for a Grammy award.
MC Lyte: I know.
Can you believe that?
Under what category were you nominated under?
MC Lyte: "Best
Solo Performance By A Female MC For A Track Or Single."
What song actually got nominated?
MC Lyte: "Ride
How many Grammy awards were you previously nominated for?
MC Lyte: This is
my second nomination.
Share your thoughts on the whole situation and how you feel about getting nominated
MC Lyte: It's funny,
because I called Da Brat, and I left her message congratulating her on her nomination.
She hit me back and left me a message saying, "man, I don't even know what
I got nominated for." Because she said that, it made me think, "well
shit, I know what I got nominated for." I got nominated for 17 years in
the business of putting my heart and my time in. What's happening now is they
realize the importance of the female MC. The public does, but the record labels
still don't because there's not enough of them. So, that's how we got nominated,
because there ain't enough female MCs in the game that put singles out this
year. The Grammys is about the prestige; it's about your peers voting for you.
Your peers understanding how hard you work, and they understand that MC Lyte
ain't giving up. Everything that I've put into the business so far is worthy
of a nomination in a female category.
Who are some of the other acts you are up against in the nomination?
MC Lyte: You mean
who am I joined by? To me, any one of us that walk away with that is a feat
well won by a female MC. We all inspire one another, so for one of us to get
it helps us to recognize and understand how hard we all work. It's Missy (Elliott),
(Queen) Latifah, Da Brat, and Lil' Kim.
The benchmark artists amongst the female MCs.
MC Lyte: Exactly.
And it's hard, because in the past when they sent me those lists, you had 60
or 70 names of female rappers, and half of them you didn't know their names.
So, you wound up picking who was the most familiar.
When you saw those lists and you didn't recognize most of the names, did it
make you believe that the Grammys were playing a sort of favoritism game?
MC Lyte: I don't
think it's favoritism. I think it's all of your peers. They see you working
hard. That's the only way I know the Grammys work. You would have to show me
some cases where they did.
The reason I asked that is because I've heard different perspectives about the
matter. Some say what you just said, and others would disagree with what you
MC Lyte: I cannot
comment on the matter unless you can show me where someone should have been
nominated and wasn't, or someone who shouldn't have been nominated and was.
I know there was a big discrepancy with the Alicia Keys-India.Arie thing.
That was actually one of the situations people have discussed with me.
MC Lyte: Again,
it's your peers and not the fans that determine the Grammy Awards. It's the
musicians; it's the record industry, period.
I guess if you want the fan recognition, you got to win a Billboard Award.
MC Lyte: Or an
American Music Award, or the Kid's Choice Award. The Grammys, to me, ring true
because I'm not with a major label. I don't have anyone in there lobbying for
me. I don't have the budget to get my song played on the radio. So, for me to
get a nomination just proves that it's real when they cite you for working hard
and giving credible work. "Ride Wit' Me" is a hot ass song! I didn't
get in the video and show skin, so there wasn't a reason, other than I'm MC
Lyte, for them to play the video. BET used to run me down to play my stuff,
but they gave me no love on the video side, and radio was almost as difficult.
There was some key people, some key DJs, PDs and MDs in places that showed me
love and recognized that the song was hot. It was different, and it wasn't what
everybody else was doing.
Talk about the deal you just struck with Pantene, the hair care company.
MC Lyte: It's a
tour. I'm doing a Pantene tour. I leave out the end of February, and I do it
with Nikki Giovanni and Donna Richardson. It's a nationwide tour, and we go
to these cities and talk to young girls.
Are you talking about modeling or any topics like that?
MC Lyte: Actually,
we are talking to them about everything they want to talk about. Everything
that's affecting them in their neighborhoods, trying to shape and mold the young
women of tomorrow. They come down, they get pampered, they get entertained,
there are workshops. Iit's a really good thing.
You have also begun working in a recurring role on the UPN show, "Half
& Half." Talk about what is going on with that and what it's about.
MC Lyte: I shot
an episode about two weeks ago. I shoot the next one in the 2nd week of January.
It's a cool character, she's no nonsense, yet she's a little anal. She's got
a sense of humor, but when it all boils down to it, she's the president of a
record label and she's got to run a tight ship.
You have a movie that came out sometime ago, and a movie that's coming out,
and I'm confused on which one is which. Which movie did you do that had all
the ads running in The Source?
MC Lyte: That's
"Civil Brand." "Player's Ball" is coming out in February.
How did "Civil Brand" make out in the theatres?
MC Lyte: It did
great for an independent, and it did OK for a movie. Lion's Gate didn't do any
press or advertising for it. Everything you saw for it came out of the Executive
Producer's pocket. You know how it is when you have a changing of the guard.
They did the deal with Mandalay. Lion's Gate bought Mandalay, and they looked
at the script like, "what the hell is this?" Sometimes when there's
a change in the regime, the head honcho only feels like he's doing his job if
he can get rid of everybody and put his own piece in it.