MC Lyte reps feminist beat at hip-hop conference

MC Lyte, born Lana Michelle Moorer, giving a lecture on the current state of hip-hop as part of the Sankofa Lecture Series in the Tivoli, Oct. 5, on the Auraria Campus. Photo by Tim Hurst

Story by Reeanna Hernandez

Hip-hop has changed, but MC Lyte hasn’t.

MC Lyte (aka Lana Michele Moorer) has cultivated her persona around the notion that women can still turn heads when fully clothed, a sentiment she argues is seriously lacking in today’s hip-hop industry.
“Hip-hop was about inspiration,” MC Lyte said. “One thing it has never been is ignorant — until today.”

Grammy nominated hip-hop icon, entrepreneur and multifaceted entertainer, MC Lyte was one of the keynote speakers at the Sankofa Lecture Series hosted by the department of African-American studies at MSU Denver.

The night of Oct. 4, the Tivoli Turnhalle was alive with devoted fans, women’s rights supporters and hip-hop enthusiasts. At one point, the audience sang in unison to the infamous hip-hop song “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugarhill Gang.

With her unique approach to audience interaction, MC Lyte paved the way to addressing a serious underlying issue — she believes that women’s roles in hip-hop culture have changed in a negative way.

MC Lyte drew attention to the way that this change contributes to gender inequality. She addressed how hip-hop has always been an art that brings things that really matter to light. Today there are many double standards within hip-hop, MC Lyte said.

“You call me a queen, then turn around and call me a bitch. I don’t understand that,” she said.

She proposed that performers need to return to the true roots of hip-hop and reinstate the poetry and the art form that it once was. Hip-hop is art, it is real life, reporting truth, seeing it and speaking it how it is, MC Lyte said.

She thinks that knowledge is forgotten in elements of hip-hop today and is replaced with things that have no meaning and no life. She proposed that artists need to get back to what she calls “true school” hip-hop and real-life issues that matter.

Some students felt having a lecture series like this on campus was important.

“Students need to know the history of the art form of hip-hop,” said Jesse Parris, a MSU Denver criminal justice major. “They need to know where it has been and where it’s going. They need to know the steps to take to bring it back to where it needs to be.”

Lecture attendees came away with a renewed clarity of the seriousness of the issues discussed.

“I’m absolutely inspired by her,” said Janet Herby, a computer science major at CCD. “It is important to know her message. Women put themselves in a sort of ‘Barbie’ position, portraying ourselves to have a perfect ‘Barbie’ persona. MC Lyte is a ‘Barbara,’ not a ‘Barbie’. As long as women are being ‘Barbie’ and not ‘Barbara,’ we will always be putting ourselves in a man’s world.”

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