Warm hues of purple and blue lights danced with crystal chandeliers above candlelit table tops as fans filled Chicago’s Promontory for MC Lyte’s Listening Party for her latest album, Legend, on Sunday (Apr. 19). A variety of throwback hits from Frankie Beverly and Maze to Lyte’s classic tunes blazed through the speakers, before fans rushed the stage for a closer peek at the icon herself.
Dressed in a sleek black and white blouse, black skinny pants with her golden blonde micro braids pulled back in a Mohawk, Lyte was warmly greeted with adorning fans who yearned for moment: “I must be in Chicago, the love is so real,” she gushed. Hosted in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, home to President Barack Obama, the cucumber cool femcee gave fans an exclusive listen of her first album in over 12 years. The Brooklyn native, born Lana Moorer, had minimal security on stage, with an endearing vulnerability like a sheep without a shepherd, premiering her eighth’s album tracks to feenin’ fans.
Despite a hiatus, Lyte remains a pioneer in hip hop, but it hasn’t come without hitches. “There are things I would’ve done differently. I got upset about how some things turned out, however, it’s always that saying, ‘If I knew then what I knew now.’ I would’ve made quite a few decisions differently,” she revealed to the crowd.
Her ruthless tenacity to leave a legacy is undeniable, as Lyte is a true artist who crafts timeless music with ease, racking up milestones as if history making was a hobby. Release the first full length album as a female solo hip hop artist? Check. First solo hip hop female to snag a Grammy nomination? Check. Awarded the “I Am Hip Hop” Icon BET Award? Been there, done that. For over 20 years, the hip hop innovator is no stranger to not only carving out her own lane, but mastering it. Legend is available via Vinyl only, with an option to download- a move unheard of.
Throughout the set, fans got a taste of her new songs, including “Dear John,” a mega-conscious mind tease featuring Golden Glode winner Common. The track, an empowering wake up call to fathers, is sweetly reminiscent of days of old, true to what made Lyte an enviable force. The lyricist proved she can keep up with the times. “Ball,” an uptempo track featuring fire ball Lil’ Mama, who wasn’t even born when “Lyte As A Rock” was released in 1988, enlightened the crowd’s Millennials as to why hip hop heads already loved her.
The listening session transformed into a mini-concert, as Lyte performed a couple of her biggest hits, including 1989’s “I Am the Lyte.” The crowd took the song hostage, yelling each word as though they wrote it themselves. Don’t let her petite build fool you. Her frame may be small, but her words are massive, powerful enough to ignite lyrical fire, self-reflection and much need awareness. Every track on Legend is the love child of art meeting beat meeting raw talent, promoting change relevant for generations not even born yet.
The 44-year-old, who found the fountain of youth and refuses to age, concluded with advice to young women, to “be more open in terms of making decisions,” and the last time she cried: “I was just feeling emotional about seeing a father with his son and it was something about that moment that felt so real about two weeks ago.”
All while never compromising in over twenty years of hip hop bliss, her craft and integrity in tact, Lyte continues to shine as a “lyte” amidst darkness.
Welcome back, Lyte. Your throne awaits. – Angela Wilson