10 Songs, 38 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

MC Lyte burst onto the New York rap scene at age 17 with 1987’s “I Cram to Understand U,” a nuanced portrait of a girl falling in love with a boy who tries in vain to hide his drug addiction from her. The song appeared the following year on Lyte’s debut full-length, Lyte As a Rock, which is chock-full of classic songs. Produced by members of Audio Two and Alliance (other founding groups signed to First Priority Music, Lyte’s fledgling label), songs like “Lyte As a Rock,” “Paper Thin,” and “10% Dis” combine tough and creative beats with Lyte’s hard-hitting rhyme style. Unlike the female rappers who preceded her, Lyte refused to play on the conventions of femininity. She refused to be a novelty, and her authenticity won her the respect of New York's notoriously judgmental hip-hop establishment. Thanks to her integrity, fans didn’t hear Lyte As a Rock as a female rap album—they heard a classic New York rap album. So when Lyte did take a stand for women—on songs like “Don’t Cry Big Girls” and “I Am Woman”—people felt the full force of her message.

EDITORS’ NOTES

MC Lyte burst onto the New York rap scene at age 17 with 1987’s “I Cram to Understand U,” a nuanced portrait of a girl falling in love with a boy who tries in vain to hide his drug addiction from her. The song appeared the following year on Lyte’s debut full-length, Lyte As a Rock, which is chock-full of classic songs. Produced by members of Audio Two and Alliance (other founding groups signed to First Priority Music, Lyte’s fledgling label), songs like “Lyte As a Rock,” “Paper Thin,” and “10% Dis” combine tough and creative beats with Lyte’s hard-hitting rhyme style. Unlike the female rappers who preceded her, Lyte refused to play on the conventions of femininity. She refused to be a novelty, and her authenticity won her the respect of New York's notoriously judgmental hip-hop establishment. Thanks to her integrity, fans didn’t hear Lyte As a Rock as a female rap album—they heard a classic New York rap album. So when Lyte did take a stand for women—on songs like “Don’t Cry Big Girls” and “I Am Woman”—people felt the full force of her message.

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