MC Lyte (born Lana Michelle Moorer; October 11, 1970) is an American rapper who first gained fame in the late-1980s becoming the first solo female rapper to release a full album with 1988’s critically acclaimed Lyte as a Rock.
Lyte was born Lana Michele Moorer in 1970. Raised in Brooklyn, Lyte began rhyming at the age of 12. One long standing misconception is that Lyte is the younger sister of Milk D and DJ Giz, Audio Two. This is not true. She actually first met the hip hop duo when the group was searching for a female artist for their new label . Lyte recorded her first song, “I Cram to Understand U (Sam),” in 1986. Lyte had originally written the song in 1984. The song, about a relationship that fell apart due to the protagonist’s lover’s crack addiction, was released on First Priority Music, run by Nat Robinson the father of the members of Audio Two. Soon after, with the help of Sylvia Rhone, the label formed a distribution deal with Atlantic Records.
Her first album, Lyte as a Rock, was released in September 1988 and was noted for the hit “Paper Thin” and the battle rap “10% Dis,” which was a response from then-Hurby Azor associate Antoinette. Both rappers released battle records against each other. Lyte followed her debut with 1989’s Eyes on This, which spawned the hits “Cha Cha Cha” and “Cappucino.” Both albums were notable for Lyte’s uncensored lyrical matter. She sweetened up a little on 1991’s Act Like You Know, noted for its new jack swing sound and the hit single “Poor Georgie.” Lyte’s fourth album, 1993’s Ain’t No Other, became her first to reach gold status and was notable for her first top 40 pop hit, “Ruffneck“. She became a featured artist on hits by Janet Jackson and Brandy in 1994.
[vsw id=”ygteZWP_tL0″ source=”youtube” width=”425″ height=”344″ autoplay=”no”]
Two years afterward, Lyte’s fifth album, Bad As I Wanna B, featured production from Jermaine Dupri and Sean Combs, and featured the hits “Keep on, Keepin’ On” and “Cold Rock a Party“, which featured then up-and-coming rapper, songwriter and producer Missy Elliott. This album was her first with East West Records America and became successful after the aforementioned singles became big hits with “Keep on, Keepin’ On” peaking at the top ten and “Cold Rock a Party” peaking at number eleven. It was her second gold album. Her 1998 follow-up, Seven & Seven, however, wasn’t as successful and she left East West America by the end of the decade. Lyte released the independently produced record The Undaground Heat, featuring Jamie Foxx, in 2003, which was notable for the song “Ride Wit Me”. The single was nominated for both a Grammy and a BET award.
Lyte has been featured on television as herself on such shows as MTV Unplugged, In Living Color, Moesha, Cousin Skeeter, New York Undercover, My Wife and Kids, and Sisters in the Name of Rap. She also acted on TV in such shows as In the House, Get Real, Half & Half, and The District.
Her first acting role was in 1991, an off-Broadway theater play titled Club Twelve, a hip-hop twist on Twelfth Night alongside Wyclef Jean, Lauryn Hill, and Lisa Nicole Carson. After she made her film debut in the 1993 movie titled Fly by Night, starring alongside Jeffrey Sams, Ron Brice, and Steve Gomer, she also starred other films, such as A Luv Tale (1999), Train Ride (2000), Civil Brand (2002) and Playa’s Ball (2003). She guest starred with Tyler the Creator and Childish Gambino on Regular Show.
In 1996 Lyte began what is now a very successful voice-over career. She hvoiced campaigns with several corporate brands. Lyte also voiced a short-lived BET show called The Boot and has just signed on to become a voice for the branding of the Starz network.
In 2007 Lyte joined the cast of MTV’s Celebrity Rap Superstar and coached Shar Jackson to a hip hop emcee victory in a mere eight weeks. During that same tim,e Lyte hit the road in between shooting and joined the Roots for a nationwide VH1 House of Blues Tour.
Lyte also opened Shaitel, a Los Angeles boutique that specializes in accessories from belts to sunglasses. “We sell a mixture of new and vintage [items],” she explains. “We also have a few signature pieces that are done just for the store. We boast to bring a little New York flavor out here to California.”
In February 2006, her diary, as well as a turntable, records, and other assorted ephemera from the early days of hip hop, were donated to the Smithsonian Institution. This collection, entitled “Hip-Hop Won’t Stop: The Beat, the Rhymes, the Life” is a program to assemble objects of historical relevance to the hip hop genre from its inception.
In October 2006, MC Lyte was one of the honored artists on VH1‘s annual award show Hip Hop Honors.She was joined by fellow female MC‘s Da Brat, Remy Ma, and Lil’ Kim as they performed some of her tracks, such as “Cha Cha Cha,” “Lyte as a Rock,” “Paper-Thin,” and “Ruffneck.” She previously took part in the MTV reality series Celebrity Rap Superstar as the mentor of Moesha actress Shar Jackson.
In 2005, she released two songs produced by Richard “Wolfie” Wolf called “Can I Get It Now” and “Don’t Walk Away” (with Meechie), both available at the iTunes Store. In 2007, she released a song called “Mad at Me” available at the iTunes Store. In 2008, she released two songs called “Juke Joint” (on both UK & US) & “Get Lyte” (exclusive to US) available at the iTunes Store. In 2009, she released a song at the iTunes Store called “Brooklyn.”
MC Lyte currently serves as the presiding President of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Recording Academy. She is the first African American to serve in this role and she is also a proud honorary member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc.
Founded by MC Lyte, the legendary lyricist and iconic hip-hop pioneer, Hip-Hop Sisters Network includes Hip-Hop Sisters Artistry, which provides a platform for female artists to showcase their talents in an environment of encouragement and respect, as well as Hip-Hop Sisters Foundation, which is a non-profit charity that promotes positive images of women of ethnic diversity by bringing together leaders from the world of hip hop, the entertainment industry, and the corporate world. HHS provides national and international support to women and youth around the globe on the topics of cultural issues, financial empowerment, health and wellness, mentorship, and educational opportunities. dvisory board members include Faith Evans, Ledisi, Jada Pinkett Smith, Chilli, Russell Simmons, Cheryl “Salt” James, Malinda Williams, Kelly Price, Malcolm Jamal Warner, Melanie Fiona, Kenny Lattimore, and Dr. Benjamin Chavis. www.hiphopsisters.org
On September 6, 2012, an invitation-only press conference was held at the office of Russell Simmons in New York City, wherein MC Lyte, Melanie Fiona, Dr. Damon Williams, foundation president Lynn Richardson, and others announced the MC Lyte/UW-Madison $100,000 First Wave Scholarship search, whereby one recipient would receive a full college scholarship.