MC Lyte’s Brooklyn: Where Hip Hop & Reggae Collide

Ths is a little insight into what I am doing over at RIDDIM Magazine, especially for my English-speaking readers. Basically through my work at RIDDIM, I’m attempting to highlight how the two genres have influenced and enriched each other. Here is a short taster piece on MC Lyte’s recent venture into the Reggae/Dancehall world, which should give a good example of the work I’m doing here at RIDDIM:

MC Lyte’s Brooklyn: Where Hip Hop & Reggae Collide

mc_lyte_brooklyn

Raised in Brooklyn near Rutland Road and Winthrop, veteran femcee MC Lyte has always drawn inspiration from the rich Caribbean culture that surrounded her from a young age. Argueably the most pioneering and groundbreaking female artist in Hip Hop history, her versatile and unique style has helped diversify and enrich the genre for over 20 years.Unafraid to “flip styles” and transgress the already blurred boundary between genres, Lyte decided to release ‘Brooklyn,’ a reggae-influenced ode to Caribbean cultural impact on both New York and Hip Hop itself.

The single is not her first venture into the Reggae world; in 2000 she featured on the remix of the Bob Marley’s ‘Jammin,’ bringing a little Hip Hop flavour to the classic record. Unlike on ‘Jammin,’ however, she favours a Jamaican accent throughout most of ‘Brooklyn’ and for the video takes to the streets of the borough sporting a Kingston Adidas jacket. Providing a rather vivid snapshot of her Brooklyn upbringing, in which West Indian culture was firmly embedded, Lyte states that recording the track was “like paying homage to where [she] came from and the culture that [she] grew up on.”

“Brooklyn is the West Indies,” she jokes, before explaining proudly, “that was where I was raised. That was where I was brought up. I listened to a lot of Reggae coming up, so it’s influenced me.” More specifically she describes how, “it was definitely inspiring for many years to be able to listen to Rawkus and hear all of the great artists do what they do.” The diverse musical scene has clearly played a big role in her artistic development.

In fact, listening to her more recent projects, it becomes immediately apparent that the melodic 90’s Dancehall deejaying styles have enriched Lyte’s own rhyming style. “I think I’ve become more accustomed to flow,” she explains. “The last five records, there was really a lot of attention paid to flow, but now more so than ever.” Trying to achieve a more soulful tone, she is also paying much more attention to lyricism and wordplay. “Now I’ve grown into more into somewhat of a melody, still having enough edge where I’m speaking to the people, but in a melodic way,” she elaborates.

Although she currently resides in Los Angeles, Lyte admits fondly that her heart unsuprisingly remains in the vibrant streets of Brooklyn and its rich Carribean culture, which provided such a great influence for her.

MC Lyte’s Brooklyn Video:

My German-speaking readership will be able to read the German language feature in the next edition of RIDDIM Magazine, in stores next month. Also be sure to look out for my full MC Lyte interview, coming soon to Allhiphop.com.

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