It’s hard to imagine the world of hip-hop without its early contributors such as Grandmaster Flex, Salt-N-Peppa, and Run DMC. However, among these artists- one stands out as being among the first solo female rappers to change the rap industry for both men and women .
This icon is none other than MC Lyte. She spoke to the Georgia State student body in honor of Women’s History Month and the 20th anniversary of the Office of African-American Student Services and Programs on Thursday, March 24.
The event started with music played by Georgia State’s own DJ Peter Parker, followed by an introduction by Miss Georgia State University, Annie Wilson, who took on the title of Mistress of Ceremony for the evening.
Wilson introduced all speakers and entertainment guests and gave the audience information about OAASS&P and its services. She also shared that Georgia State is ranked #4 in the nation for graduating African-Americans, only falling behind historically black colleges and universities such as Howard University.
The first guest to perform was Morehouse grad and music composer K. LaBron Hatcher. Hatcher, along with OAASS&P’s own Vineyard of Praise, performed a song that he wrote entitled All These Years, where he pays tribute to African-American civil rights leaders and important figures such as President Barack Obama, Coretta Scott King and Oprah Winfrey.
A new generation of female hip-hop artists also performed in tribute to Mc Lyte with songs about empowerment and freedom. Ebony Townsend performed her single Holler with Me, engaging the crowd with powerful lyrics, and Sash La’Ki followed with a song entitled, How to be Free, in which the two ladies showed the importance of living freely- a concept that MC Lyte focused on in her address.
After an introduction from Traci Shelton, student development specialist, MC Lyte took the stage. It wasn’t long before the rap icon engaged the audience with famous rap quotes and slang words that have developed in hip-hop culture.
“We are part of a continuous movement,” she said about her perception of hip-hop. “…It is art imitating life, not life imitating art.”
Lyte also spoke on her exposure to all different types of music while growing up before she even heard the likes of Grandmaster Flex, Funky Four Plus One, and Salt-N-Peppa. She soon began dreaming about being a part of the movement.
“I knew that I needed to start dreaming big,” Lyte said. “I knew the dream and vision I had as a young person would amount to something some day.”
Lyte also spoke to the crowd about how important it is to have a vision and to dream big. She added that one must be prepared and stay focused.
One of her final messages to the crowd was to be you.
“You will do so much better being yourself. Finding your own path and being you will set you apart.”
In honor of her contribution to those that are attempting to follow in her hip-hop footsteps, with her Hip-Hop Sisters program, as well as her many contributions to hip-hop as a whole, MC Lyte was presented a plaque by OAASS&P and the Citizens of the City of Atlanta officially declared March 24 MC Lyte Day.
To find out more about McLyte’s empowerment program, go to www.hiphopsisters.com.
Published March 29, 2011 in “The Signal”