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MC Lyte Releases 'Legend' Album with 'New & True' Sound After 12-Year Hiatus [EXCLUSIVE LISTENING PARTY INTERVIEW]

by Mereb Gebremariam   Apr 23, 2015 13:03 PM EDT

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OK, what if you got the opportunity to interview a legend, one that you've admired since a very young age?

Most likely you would have jumped at the opportunity to meet one of hip-hop's living idols — as I did soon after I got off from a long day of writing articles at my exciting journalism job. There would be nothing to stop me from seeing MC Lyte, the first solo female emcee to have ever released a full studio album, celebrate her first album in 12 years, Legend.

A photo posted by @ambitiousmereb on Apr 21, 2015 at 6:20pm PDT

After arriving a little more than a half hour later from the expected start time for the listening event, I was greeted at the door by another man who smiled and asked me, "Are you her for Lyte's thing?" Proudly, I answered, "Yes," and entered New York's hot spot, the DL. I walked in and looked around to about 13 painters bringing divas from the '80s and '90s to life onto their canvases. I assumed that things were running behind. Eventually, I stood along with the crowd and watched as artists painted, music played, and people conversed with drinks in their hands.

For a moment something seemed off, but I felt at ease when I was approached by the man who had greeted me earlier, who went by Bill. As a journalist always looking for a story, I inquired about his reasons for attending the event. He turned out to be a good friend of the Lyte as a Rock rap star since the beginning of her successful career. I felt less stressed and assumed maybe things were running behind — who knows, traffic and subway delays in New York City could be a killer sometimes — but this was beyond late.

Lyte's friend and I both looked at each other with concern because it had been an hour and a half after the 7:00 p.m. start time. Thus, the weird stomach twist and shuffle began. As I tried to wave down a bartender to get confirmation that this was indeed the right place, Bill stopped another man who told him that we were at the right place for the listening after party. However, we were at the wrong place for the actual listening party, which was being held at The Delancey two blocks down the street.

Bill and I ran down the street in disbelief and only had a little over 30 minutes to hear the new music and see the starlet in person for the first time in my life. As we walked in, she stood just a couple feet from the door and gave a warm welcome to Bill, who then personally introduced me to my idol. I screamed inside. As unlucky as I felt running down the street, my luck had finally began to change. I made it just in time for press time, and right before I could ask my question, singer and Oscar winner Jamie Foxx walked through the door, screaming for Lyte, and singing for cameras after embracing and congratulating her.

A video posted by @ambitiousmereb on Apr 21, 2015 at 6:32pm PDT

As cameras swarmed to ask the Ray actor questions, I took some time to grab one of hip-hop's greats to ask a few of my own.

A photo posted by @ambitiousmereb on Apr 22, 2015 at 4:16am PDT

How do you keep longevity in this male-dominated industry?

Lyte: Just my love for the music and just wanting to make a difference and then having to realize I have to be the change I wanna see. I have to input in what it is that I do no matter how people feel. "Oh, it's so many years later and she's forty-something," or whatever, and so are a lot of these dudes that are in this business. They're older than me and no one looks at them cross-eyed or any kind of way when they want to create. So, it's only right that as women in this business, we get to participate and contribute to this art form.

Did you make a transition with your music to fit today's style versus what you're known for?

Lyte: With this record we actually took trap and we put trap on top of real hip-hop and we fused all of these things together — we actually call it "New and True" — and "New" is the production style of what's happening today and "True" element is the organic instrumentation that people are accustomed to hearing me on. So you hear live bass, heavy kicks, and heavy snare and then on the other side you'll hear rises and clashes and everything that's happening today. I think it's a really cool way to fuse the two.

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