Standing on her own in the male-dominated business, rapper MC Lyte was one of the first female rappers to point out misogyny and sexism in the hip hop industry.
Born Lana Michelle Moorer on Oct. 11, 1970, in Brooklyn, New York, she began rhyming at the age of 12 and would go on to be a pioneer in feminism and in hip hop.
Lyte recorded her first single, "I Cram to Understand U," in 1986. About a relationship soured by a crack addiction, it sparked a relationship with Sylvia Rhone and a record deal with First Priority Music. She debuted her first album, Lyte as a Rock, in 1988, followed by Eyes on This in 1989. Eyes on This spawned her first hit single, “Cha Cha Cha,” which peaked at No. 1 on the rap charts.
The foundation she created in the ‘80s led to global recognition in the ‘90s. In 1993, she released her fourth album, Ain't No Other. The classic featured the single "Ruffneck," which earned a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Single and turned out to be the first gold single ever achieved by a female rap artist.
By the mid-'90s, she was on a new label, Elektra/Asylum, and was working with female artists of the time like Missy Elliott and Xscape. She expanded her career beyond the mic, making acting appearances in comedies such as Moesha and In the House, and the crime drama New York Undercover.
MC Lyte is more than a rapper, DJ and actress, she is also an activist for Rock the Vote and founder of the Hip Hop Sisters Network, a non-profit foundation that promotes positive images of women and ethnic diversity while bringing together leaders from the entertainment industry and the corporate world.
She was the recipient of the “I Am Hip Hop” Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2013 BET Hip Hop Awards in Atlanta on Sept. 28.
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(Photo: Al Pereira/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)