MC Lyte

  • MC Lyte
  • Lyte as a Rock (First Priority Music/Atlantic) 1988 
  • Eyes on This (First Priority Music/Atlantic) 1989 

The sassy Brooklyn rapper waxes funny, moral and toughly self-reliant on her musically inventive and entertaining debut, Lyte as a Rock. Not only is Lyte’s assessment of the sexual battlefield a refreshing change of pace, the chip on her shoulder yields cleverly vicious putdowns. Aided by sharp production, minor appropriations from Ray Charles, Helen Reddy and the Four Seasons, Lyte fills her first LP with a number of strong cuts, like the introductory “Lyte vs. Vanna White” and the hit “I Cram to Understand U.”

In one of the most intriguing cross-cultural moments of 1988, Lyte appeared in the video for Sinéad O’Connor’s “I Want Your (Hands on Me).” Unfortunately, Eyes on This doesn’t show any such imagination: Lyte revisits the same ‘hood as her debut, in good-sounding but tired expressions of singleminded self-obsession and rhyming supremacy like “I Am the Lyte” (produced by future Brand Nubian Grand Puba Maxwell, who also collaborated on “Funky Song”), “Slave 2 the Rhythm” and “Throwin’ Words at U.” The album’s only flight of fancy is “Cappucino,” an intriguing but undeveloped visit to the afterlife.

[Ira Robbins / Terry Rompers]

See also: Audio Two