MC Lyte Explains How LL COOL J & Nas Challenged Her To Drop New Music

MC Lyte is back with bars. The legend talks to AllHiphop about her latest project.

MC Lyte is back like she never left—simply because she really never did. This time she returns with new bars, a new sound with new team. Her latest song (and first since 2021), “Woman,” features Big Daddy Kane and Salt from Salt-N-Pepa. She reveals that the song was created in collaboration with Grammy Award-winning producer Warryn Campbell and is about empowering Black women and other women of color. MC Lyte has more in store, including an album featuring artists such as Q-Tip, Anthony Hamilton, Ghostface and more.

AllHipHop: You have this new song out, “Woman,” with Big Daddy Kane and Salt from Salt-N-Pepa. It’s a great record, a feel good record. What prompted it and also how was it working with two other royal members of Hip-Hop?

MC Lyte: I’m working with Warryn Campbell right now, multi Grammy Award-winning producer, plays every instrument, melody, top line lyrics. He’s a wealth of knowledge and extremely talented. Warryn and I formed a brother-sister relationship once Heavy D passed. Heavy was sort of our connection. And whenever I would visit Heavy in the studio, who else would be there but Warryn? And then also Warryn was on the A&R team at Elektra East West when I was with a major record label. And so we formed a bond. I’m also a member of his church, California Worship Center.

AllHipHop: I picked that up on his Instagram by the way. I was like, “Oh shoot, bro is a preacher.”

MC Lyte: And he gets busy. And so for me, being in a studio with him has been such an invigorating process, because the only thing that’s necessary for me to bring to the table is truth. And I don’t have to put on airs. I’m not the same girl who rapped “Ruffneck.” And so it just so happens that Big Daddy Kane and Raheem DeVaughn, who does the hook, were in town in Los Angeles and we’re friends. So I’m talking to Kane, I’m like, “I’m here. Come by the studio.” Same thing with Raheem. We did two other songs as well.

AllHipHop: What about Salt?

MC Lyte: Salt-N-Pepa, all-time favorites for me, right? I’ve listened to them all the way from “Showstoppers” when they dissed Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick.

AllHipHop: Right?

MC Lyte: God, who would have had the gall to do this after “La-Di-Da-Di“? So in any case, being a big fan of Salt’s, we’re also friends. We’ve been talking about doing a record together, which by the way, we also have another record together. So we did that one first, but it was like, “You know what? You want to get down on this?” And when we played it for her, she was like, “Oh, yeah, say less.” And so she blessed us. We have a video, but the funny thing is we had to go to them to get their parts. And so in the video, Salt and Kane don’t appear together because they weren’t in the same place at the same time. But they love each other the same.

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AllHipHop: What sort of kickstarted this burning desire?

MC Lyte: My first manager said to me many, many years ago, we’re going to build your career so that it isn’t dependent on a hit song. And so really that’s what I’ve been doing, is doing everything else that I love to do once leaving a major was important so that I’d be happy. Also income. Let me figure out many different income streams. And so with acting and voiceovers and all of those things, I was able to do it. When it comes to Hip-Hop, I have worked with so many producers. I’ve got tracks from our beloved Chucky Thompson. I’ve got about six or seven songs from him. I’ve worked with LT Hutton, I’ve got songs from him and Nephew and Polo. And I’ve just been around the world producing tracks with producers that have never been heard before. However, I also had to get connected with what is my message still? What is it that I want to say to people? And most recently, I sat with LL [COOL J] for a fireside chat for leading women to find, and he said to me, “I got new music coming out.” I was like, “Oh, that’s great. So how was that process?” He said, “But what about you? Stop being scared, put out some music.” And I was like, “Ooh, why you gotta use those words?” Anytime somebody says you scared, it’s like, “What?”

You got to put your S on your chest and go. And then of course, Nas, he gives a call out to all people of the late ’80s, early ’90s. I slipped in at the end of the ’80s, but a lot of my success came from the ’90s And so he’s just like, “Where y’all at? Drop some music.” We want to complain or talk about or reference what is happening now and perhaps being unhappy with it, which by the way, I’m exempt. I’m a DJ, so I listen to everything, and I found new ways to get connected with music and the lyrical prowess that comes from a young MC. So for me, I just had to take the challenge, which by the way, Warryn and I have been working on this record off and on before the pandemic.

AllHipHop: Wow.

MC Lyte: So “Woman,” quite frankly, was done in 2018.

AllHipHop: First of all, to be challenged by LL COOL J and Nas, that’s got to a light of fire in you.

MC Lyte: Yeah, but it was so big brotherly. It was like, “Stop being scared, put out some new music.” And I don’t know that I was scared so much as worried about the right timing. Because I don’t want to do it just to do it. I want to have some skin in the game and really have something to say. And you want to be heard and you don’t care who hears it.

AllHipHop: Awesome. Great to hear. What would you say is a key to your longevity? I love seeing you, Nas, D-Nice, LL… Gen X is kind of crazy right now in terms of really evolving.

MC Lyte: I don’t believe that it’s one answer. I think that it’s several. And one of those by far is having a base, being able to ground myself. And that’s just with a team of people that really understand who I am, can understand the level of creativity. And even my conversation because I can go bing, bing, bing, bing all over the place. And if you’re with the wrong set of people, they could just look at you like you’re crazy and never carry out what it is that you have vision for. But lucky for me, I have the greatest team that can help me and help facilitate those things. And then also understanding that the mission is much bigger than Lyte.

AllHipHop: So I have to ask you this, and this is something that’s very cliche, but how do you feel about Hip-Hop?

MC Lyte: I feel enough about it that I’m ready to get back in the jump rope and do some Double Dutch a little bit. I feel like it’s all of us taking responsibility. It’s AllHipHop continuing to do what it does. Also, really still maintaining the power so that if MC Lyte reaches out to Chuck and says, “Hey, I got something new coming,” you can readily say, “Let’s go.” Some platforms have lost their power, and even if they still have it, they choose to use it in the way that big mainstream says we use it. And so, I love Hip-Hop, that’ll never change.