MC Lyte is a bonafide legend in the rap game, and now she’s taking her talents into the film world.
During a time where female rappers are recognized and respected more than ever, it’s important to recognize the greats that came before us. Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, Lyte carries endless achievements and accolades, including being the first solo female rapper to drop a full-length album (Lyte as a Rock back in 1988).
Fast forward to 2021, MC Lyte is excited as ever to be releasing her own sitcom titled Partners In Rhyme, a 7-episode original series that premiered on AMC Network’s streamer, ALLBLK.
Teaming up with director Bentley Kyle Evans, who’s worked on legendary television shows such as “Martin” and “The Jamie Foxx Show,” the light-hearted show stars the rapper as Lana Crawford and is loosely based on MC Lyte’s own personal and professional career.
After Lana is dropped from her label and facing major debt, she shifts her focus into managing her niece, Lucious T, an upcoming Instagram rapper. Of course, the big gap in generations cause ripples in any situation, as both try to navigate working and living under the same roof.
AllHipHop: How are you feeling? How’s everything?
MC Lyte: Oh my goodness, I’m so excited! This is new terrain that I have actually been waiting for all of my life. This TV show many, many years ago, when I was with William Morris, we were working on a TV show. Because of that, it was very disappointing when I left to take my performance to another agency. William Morris said “No, no, you gotta have everything here if you’re gonna have anything here. I said, “I made the decision to go with the other company.” And it was great.
I toured my butt off all throughout the 90’s and the 2000’s. It was really great but because I was with a performance agency, they didn’t really deal with theatrical. So I didn’t really get a chance to work that muscle. Here we are with a TV show where I’m executive producing, co-created, and acting in. It’s everything all rolled in one.
AllHipHop: You’re known to be one of the pioneers of females in Hip Hop. How did it feel to bring your talents over to the film world?
MC Lyte: Oh man, it felt fantastic. Really, I’ve been acting professionally since ‘91. I did an off-Broadway play that had Wyclef Jean, Lauryn Hill, Darrin Henson, it was a bunch of us in a great Off-Broadway play here in the city. I did another movie, I can’t even remember the name of it, but it was fairly okay. But then, I went and got some lessons.
I went to school in LA for two years. After that, I was on a train. [snaps] Kept going until I stopped in 2008, then I came back to it in 2017 or 2018. It’s been great. That’s why I only really do projects that I’m producing. [laughs] Unless you’re inviting me in!
I’ve got a Christmas movie coming out where the EPs Jamie Foxx and Datari Turner said, “We want you to play in this role.” I said “Okay, I’ll be there.” But most times, I’m trying to put energy into the projects that my company is creating.
AllHipHop: How did you come up with the name Partners in Rhyme? So clever.
MC Lyte: Well I’d love to say I came up with it, I didn’t. I just had the idea. Once you start talking to people who write, they start coming up with a bunch of titles. Partners in Rhyme actually was the first title. I said, “Ehh, it sounds too much like partners in crime.” They said, “Yeah, that’s the point.” I said “Oh, okay!” It grew on me.
AllHipHop: How did you prepare for this role?
MC Lyte: Life. My entire life I’ve been preparing for this role, because the role is loosely based on a woman who’s been rapping and she has legendary status. However, the record label is no longer interested in putting out her music, but would much rather see her go in the direction of teaching all that she knows to someone younger.
Someone who they can put out and not have to work hard to sell, and I know that game. It was really just my life that prepared me for it. As it leads to the actual dialogue, we had a coach on set that would run lines with me. I’ve been on many sitcoms, but never my own.
I’ve never had to learn as much dialogue as I had to learn with this role. He’d come in and read with me and it made it that much easier for a schedule that we had. It was a really routine schedule.
AllHipHop: What was the schedule like? Because I know filming hours can be really rigorous. You’re there all day on set.
MC Lyte: I would be giving away Bentley Kyle’s secret recipe if you knew how we actually shot this, but we shot several episodes congruently. It was always “What’s the sentiment? What just happened?” Okay, because we were always out of order. I had to be on my P’s and Q’s.
AllHipHop: What goes behind executive producing, and starring in your own sitcom?
MC Lyte: Work! [laughs] Being involved in every little bit of it. Bentley and I are the writers: we sat down, we created it, we wrote the first episode. We created all of the storylines, then had to meet with all of the writers continuously through the process of it. I didn’t want any profanity.
With an SVOD, they told us “you can do whatever you want. You can curse, dah dah dah.” Every time one of the writers would try to put in a curse, I said “nuh uh, that’s not what we’re doing here.” “But they said we could!” Just because they said we could, doesn’t mean we should. It was keeping a watchful eye on it all.
One day, it was getting out of hand. I said “Okay listen, let’s have the talk. Let’s have the conversation. First off, I’ve been in this thing for 30 years. There’s a reason why ALLBLK bought this show without a script, because they trust me!
They trust that what I’m bringing is what they want. They trust and value my opinion and my perspective, and the women who are tuned into this SVOD are MC Lyte fans.
They’re right in my spectrum of listenership, viewership, so I wanted to take care of them.” I also said to them, “you may not have ever gotten an Image Award, but I certainly want this show to be in the running for anything possible. We don’t want to get counted out before we even start.” So it takes work. As my CEO says: inspect what you expect.