Sunday, March 1, 2009

Snowed In With Lyte Week, Day 1: Ride With Lytro

There's a big ol' snow storm kicking up outside, so it looks like I'll be spending a lot of time indoors... which makes it time for another "week!" So, I thought I'd start with her last (to date) single, because, well, just as whim. "Ride With Me" was the 2002 lead-in and only single from MC Lyte's seventh album, Da Underground Heat, Vol. 1 Hosted by Jamie Foxx. Yeah, all of that is part of the title. She also lists her name as "MC Lyte Is Lytro," so apparently she was going for kind of a long, convoluted mouthful theme.

After her second major label deal (she started on First Priority/ Atlantic, then moved to EastWest/Elektra) ended, MC Lyte announced she was putting her next album out independently. Which I guess is what she did, although this 12"'s label credits BMG Music, SGI/ CMM, Imusic, and Sunni Gyrl! Inc.; plus there's a logo us informing us she's now the "First Lady of the Def Squad" (what? when did that happen?)... There's more tiny little logos on this record than almost any I've ever seen; but, ok, I guess it still counts as independent.

So, yeah. This single, like the entirety of the rest of the album, was produced by two guys collectively known as Maad Phunk!. And you can basically sum up the album with a simple formula: MC Lyte(great) + Maad Phunk!(bad) + overload of painfully irritating skits = one mediocre CD. But thankfully, this single successfully manages to isolate the two best songs from that disc, making this a worthwhile pick-up, assuming you're getting it cheap.

"Ride With Me" was actually nominated for a Grammy, and features one the funkiest beats from the album. It's still full of generic sample-free keyboarding and cheesy pop-rap effects; but the piano loop and the drum track sound decent and make a passable sound bed for Lyte to spit over:

"Been a long time coming, but I'm running with the torch,
Race, got a lot a rats but I can't be caught, or bought,
'Cause I won't sell out. That's why me and the big dogs, we fell out.
Not with a major, but I'm still major league;
Crash ya dome with this hit then watch your nose bleed.
You want it, you can get it anytime;
'Cause I got many lines for niggas of any kind."

Granted, it sounds a bit silly when she mentions "haters" and asks us to "get crunk" on the hook; but there's still no denying the evidence that there's a skilled MC on the mic.

But the B-side, "God Said Lyte" is even better. It's got a little funk guitar, which, yes, still has that "we're not paying to clear any samples" tin sound... but it's played low, and the rest of the track is just a basic drum track beat with hand claps that'll actually have you nodding your head. It's the kind of track that could only work with a nice MC who really knows how to ride the rhythm, and fortunately, Lyte is up to the challenge, coming with a tighter delivery and better lyrics. It even has a genuinely infectious hook that goes, "I'm rhymin' and designin', also creatin'/ The dope, def rhyme that is always bein' taken/ By a sucker MC that wants to be like me/ No trait of originality/ Don't ever second guess me/ And if you're wonderin' who could the best be/ The hip-hop maniac, uptown brainiac/ In full effect, MC Lyte is back." Honestly, the A-side is okay - but this song deserves checking out.

This 12" also gets some extra value out of being nice & loaded with clean, dirty, instrumental and acappella versions for both songs (Acappellas? Quick, somebody put Lyte's vocals over some soulful Showbiz or Pete Rock tracks!). I recommend any Lyte fan picking up the 12" for the B-side... and you may give the A-side a few spins, too, if you're feeling forgiving. So get the 12" and pass on the album - there's a reason they didn't bother to press that up on wax.


  1. I love Lyte, she's had a lot of songs out since then.. You can hear her on the Primo produced track "The Wonder Years" that came out about 2-3 yrs ago. There is even a video for it on youtube.

  2. Yeah, "Wonder Years" was dope but she never actually put it out (it eventually got bootlegged 'cause people got fed up waiting for it). Unfortunately, she hasn't released anything (except for guest spots on another artist's album) since this.