Jalen Rose and MC Lyte discuss hip-hop and fashion

Pioneering rapper MC Lyte has some sage advice: “I would never suggest that an MC do what I did,” she told me this week on Renaissance Man.

As a young girl who dreamed of becoming a recording artist, she went to Staten Island with a friend because Nat Robinson’s First Priority Music label was looking for an artist to sign.

“I had my rhyming book. We went to Staten Island. It was cold, I don’t know what. We wanted to take the ferry across. We have arrived. They had a Thunderbird,” she said. “[We] jumped in the Thunderbird, went to the house, went to the basement. There were about nine people in the basement waiting for me to get there.” She opened her book of rhymes, picked up the microphone, and took control of the room. “And I think that’s when I knew I had something.”

Looking back, she knows that her fateful journey to Shaolin could have put her in danger – even if it led to her big break. She was the first female MC to release an album Lyte as a Rock and one of the first hip-hop artists to perform at Carnegie Hall.

“I would never say, ‘Take the Staten Island Ferry to an island you can’t get off unless you drive or take a ferry’… I would never tell anyone to go into a basement one.” Going home where you know absolutely no one but the guy who took you there,” she said. “It was just a recipe for disaster. And thank God that wasn’t their concern.”

But MC Lyte, whose second season of “Partners in Rhyme” has just dropped on AllBlk TV, said she never “approached this business as a woman,” but as a person. However, she was a woman working her magic in a male-dominated world, so being considered a pioneer is part of the territory. Her influence remains with artists like Rapsody, who tells me MC Lyte got her into the rap game.

“I never thought I was first. I always thought, you know, hey, I’m just in it. I advance the culture. But it wasn’t until I got older that I realized how difficult it actually was,” she said. “So you asked me, ‘How did I feel when I got there?’ I do not know. The defining moment of “Oh, I did it”. The first time I was nominated for a Grammy, I felt a bit accomplished.”

The Brooklyn native, who started rapping at 12, was also a fashion leader and said her style was a little edgier than Dapper Dan of Harlem followers back then. She rocked Simpsons characters all over her clothes and favored Karl Kani and 5001 Flavors – the latter she had the IRS audit because she got so much inventory from them. She said it was eventually thrown away.

But perhaps her most important role is that of hip-hop’s very youthful elder stateswoman. MC Lyte has always been a proponent of violence in hip-hop, dating back to the late ’80s when she joined fellow rappers in the “Stop the Violence Movement” with the iconic song “Self Destruction.” Today she uses social media to express herself.

“I find [rap wars and violence] has a lot to do with those monikers that journalists are responsible for, you know, even coining that phrase “old school”. Or hackneyed phrases from these segmented perspectives on the hip-hop genre. And once you start having segments, it’s like everything when you have teams, when you have an Atlanta team and you have LA, everyone is cheering for their team. So it gets very segregated,” she said, adding that a little conflict isn’t bad, but “if it doesn’t become public knowledge, we start to have a problem. I come from a Braggadocio school. If you can’t say you’re a badass, you might as well sit down. But you know, we’ve had incidents in hip-hop where it started with recording and then went out into the world.”

MC Lyte
MC Lyte was one of the first hip hop artists to play Carnegie Hall.
Getty Images for BET

MC Lyte, whose young favorite artist is J Cole, is all about unity. And we should listen to their sermons about not going into someone else’s basement, but also: life.

“We are losing too many people. And not just in terms of music, but in general, across the board. It’s never been so easy to just shoot a gun,” she said, adding, “It’s like what’s really happening to the value we place on life?”

Detroit native Jalen Rose is a member of the University of Michigan’s iconoclastic Fab Five that shook up the college hoop world in the early ’90s. He played 13 seasons in the NBA before blossoming into a media personality. Rose is currently an analyst for NBA Countdown and Get Up and co-hosts Jalen & Jacoby. He was executive producer of The Fab Five for ESPN’s 30 for 30 series, author of the bestselling book Got To Give the People What They Want, a fashion tastemaker, and co-founder of Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, a charter public school in his Hometown.

https://nypost.com/2022/12/01/jalen-rose-and-mc-lyte-talk-hip-hop-and-fashion/ Jalen Rose and MC Lyte discuss hip-hop and fashion

Emma Bowman

Emma Bowman is a USTimeToday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Emma Bowman joined USTimeToday in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with Emma Bowman by emailing EmmaBowman@ustimetoday.com.

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