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Catching Up With MC Lyte

MC Lyte offers a stern warning from the get-go of her new album,
Seven and Seven: “Y’all better not f— with me, cuz I’m
having a bad day.” After more than a decade in the hip-hop game, we
wouldn’t dare. Her rapping style may ride the fence between
hardcore and girl-next-door core, and she may prefer bowling to
gang bangin’, but getting caught on the blunt end of an MC Lyte bad
day couldn’t be a good thing. Seven and Seven, her sixth
studio album, is like a melodic freight train — slammin’ at one
point, breezy the next — keeping in tune with the way Lyte has run
her career from the start.

In a nutshell, her latest effort is the hardest, smartest, funniest
female rap album of 1998; it’s full of memorable anecdotes,
graceful beats and tasteful samples (David Bowie’s “Fame,” the
Commodores’ “Night Shift”). Lyte took a break from the Philadelphia
set of the film Train Ride, where she plays a college
student who is date-raped by fellow students, to shoot the shiznet
about bowling, working with L.L. Cool J and Missy “Misdemeanor”
Elliot, and the meanest thing she’s ever done to anyone.

So, tell me about Train Ride

We can’t talk about it that much, but it takes place on a college
campus and I’m playing a female by the name of Katrina. There are
just some die-hard issues that come up during the course of the
movie that college students have been forced to deal with in the
past and will continue to have to deal with in the future. It’s a
beautiful project and I’m just happy that I made it.

Speaking of acting, what actor would you most like to do a
love scene with?

Oh my goodness! I’d probably have to say [actor] Lawrenz Tate. But
it’s much better to want for it to happen, than actually have it
happen.

This record really moves along smoothly … how did you
keep yourself sane in the studio?

I lived my normal life. I went bowling and to the movies – I just
did things that made me happy, so I didn’t feel like I was held
captive recording an album.

You’re a big bowler?

Yeah, big time. Got my own ball, my own shoes. I used to be on the
bowling team in high school.

High score?

Oh boy, I don’t want you to print that! About a 180-something. If a
bowler saw that score, they’d say, ‘What is she talking about she
bowls?’

How often do you bowl?

About two times a week. I actually have two balls – don’t tell
anybody. My ten-pounder is purple and [reads] “Striker” and my blue
one is twelve-pounds and “Lyte” is on there.

So what was it like working with L.L. Cool J. on “Play
Girls Play?”

It was cool. L.L. wrote about ninety percent of that song — I
didn’t become involved until the last verse, and he kind of
envisioned what he wanted from me. It’s not often that you work
with producers who know what they want from start to finish. But
then, on the same token, it was a little difficult – especially
when you’re dealing with someone that is a rapper. When they write
something, they want you to say it exactly like them — the same
breaths have to be taken and the same pronunciation. That’s
sometimes hard when you are dealing with another rapper, because
I’m a rapper too! So we’d come to different forks in the road and,
before you know it, the roads would merge together and we’d be back
on the same track again.

What’s Seven and Seven a reference
to?

Well, seven is a perfect number, and I’m giving it to you twice.
It’s also an introspective number, which means I looked inside for
this album. I didn’t feel pressured by the hip-hop world to do a
particular kind of album. I just let the music speak to me and
talked about what came naturally. On one of the records, I think I
say, ‘I play spades’ or something like that. At first I thought,
‘This is so corny!’ But then one of the guys who I was writing with
said, ‘No, leave that! That’s you! You play spades!’ And I said,
‘Yeah, you’re right, I do. They’ll get over it.’

On “Too Fly,” you seem to be talking to someone specific.
What’s that all about?

Actually I’m not. Missy [Elliot] already had the hook in — too
fly. I thought, ‘OK, too fly. What am I too fly for?’ and I just
pieced it together. Just listening to the music it made me feel
like a relationship had just ended. It almost made me feel like
rain — like a thunderstorm going on. It’s almost like a fictitious
novel that I make myself the first person.

So the line about “Next time I see her I’ma poke her in the
eye” wasn’t aimed at anyone?

Nah, I just needed something to rhyme with the line before
that!

You’ve got a lot of references on the album to guys who
can’t make it last in bed …you been running into a lot of
two-pump chumps lately?

Um, no. I’ve probably come across some who couldn’t make up for it
— not sexually though. Just by not giving themselves
emotionally.

How is your love life?

I’m — oh, god I hate this word — dating. I feel like the Brady
Bunch when I say that word. But I am seeing someone, but it’s not
serious and we both know this. You’d never know him in a million
years — right now he plays basketball in China.

What’s the meanest thing you’ve ever done to
somebody?

Oh my goodness. My godsister stayed over at my house when I was
seven or eight. She must have done something to me — I don’t know
what — but I know that I laid my jacks out on the floor on the way
to the bathroom so if she got up in the middle of the night, she
would step on my jacks.

Speaking of violence, how have you managed to keep yourself
out of the violent side of hip-hop all these years?

Probably because I’d rather be bowling than at an awards show.

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