“Both Milk and Giz played a huge role in molding me. I had this thing that needed shape; it needed form; and it needed a musical backdrop. Lyte As a Rock, the entire album, was written before I even got into the studio. It had been written over years of time. The best lyrics are made without music because they are introspective. And people already knew I could write my own rhymes. The making of that album was me flipping over pages of my rhyme book and saying, ‘I can use this…’ I would say one line and Milk and Giz would be like, ‘Okay, let’s make a beat for that one.’ They really were able to help me develop what would become my style.
When we filmed the video for ‘Paper Thin’ I remember a lot of my friends being there. They were all on the set. I remember D-Nice showing up. He was definitely a supporter of mine before I recorded ‘I Cram To Understand U.’ It was the beginning of something new and fresh. We had a theme for the video to be shot [on the train]. There were pieces of it that was on some guerrilla filmmaking shit, but for the most part we filmed it at New York’s Transit Museum.
The statement [I was trying to make on my first album] was that I didn’t want to be taken advantage of. I wanted young people to understand that drugs wasn’t really the way. And two, they didn’t have to compromise themselves. I just wanted them to be free to be themselves and speak up for what they believed in.
When I listen to ’10% Diss’ (Lyte’s infamous diss record targeted at tough-talking Queens rival Antoinette), I think it’s so comical [laughs]. The line where I said ‘Pop you in a microwave to watch your head bubble’…that was really funny. What sparked it was there was a deal that was made between Hurby Luv Bug (Salt-N-Pepa’s producer) and Audio Two to record and release a song called ‘Stop Illin.’ It was supposed to piggyback off of [Audio Two’s] ‘Top Billin,’ but Hurby was taking pretty long to get it together so Audio Two figured it out that he wasn’t going to do it. And then one night on a trip back from Boston after doing in-stores and performing, we had the radio on WBLS and heard Mr. Magic and Marley Marl playing [Antoinette’s] ‘I Got An Attitude.’ It was the same [Audio Two] track, but it was organized a different way.
The guys were upset and there were certain parts in the song where Antoinette says ‘your bodyguard ain’t nothing,’ which was going at ‘Top Billin.’ There were a couple of other things they said and Audio Two’s eyes lit up and Milk and Giz told me, ‘You have to do it…you have to diss her because if we do it we will look like the wackest men on the face of the planet.’ I was like, ‘Alright, cool, let’s do it.’ That’s literally how much thought went into it. We went straight to the studio and did it at INS. Right now Giz is one of the most sought after engineers in the business. He mixes everything from Tre Songz to Puffy’s stuff to Missy Elliot. But at that time, Giz didn’t know what he was doing. He erased the whole song at about 5 in the morning [laughs]. We had to re-record all of the vocals, which back then wasn’t as easy as it is now. But we got it done.’