Lana Michelle Moorer Research
The iconic artist I was assigned with for my research paper is non another than Lana Michelle Moorer or better known as MC Lyte. She decided that she wants to do something huge in her life and a evidence that shows us this is that she began rapping at the age of 12, which after some time led to a single, “I Cram to Undertstand U”, which led to a recording contract with the first priority label. She was a symbol of feminism as was the first female rapper artist.(Orcutt, K. (2016, March 25). The First Ladies Of Rap: MC Lyte). MC Lyte was one of the first female rappers to point out the sexism and misogyny that often runs rampant in Hip-Hop, sometimes taking the subject head on lyrically in her songs and helping open the doors for such future artists as Queen Latifah and Missy Elliott. After her first single, “I Cram to Understand U”, she sent shock waves through the growing New York Hip Hop scene, Lana was in fact awarded with a record deal form First Priorty Music and was given the ability to take her message on the street. Her debut album, “Lyte as a Rock”, was a middle finger to Hip Hop’s male standard, serving as the full-length album from a female rapper. She was truly and still is an inspiration to thousands of young females, because when they saw MC Lyte as a powerful and an amazing woman they got their motivation and strength to do the things they always dreamed of. MC Lyte who played a role of being a strong Black woman by her performances and music brought a different change in the public sphere. Throughout the essay, I would like to unfold some lyrics of her beautiful songs from her music career.
Lana’s follow up album only did more for her career, creating her image as Hip Hop’s female ruler, demanding respecting and delivering nothing but fire. This album, titled Eyes on This, also housed Lyte’s first hit single “Cha Cha Cha” which spent 18 weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot Rap Singles chart showing that MC Lyte was here to stay. (MC Lyte – Cha Cha Cha. (2019). MC Lyte was the first female nominated for a Hip Hop Grammy (for the single “Ruffneck), the first to have an album sell gold (for Act Like You Know), and pretty much Hip Hop’s go to girl during the golden age. Because of MC Lyte, an entire gender now has a voice in Hip Hop music. Women felt powerful, strong, and got the green signal to their goals and dreams to bring their personalities and creativity out. Her music and lyrics carry powerful themes and words. But the theme that really emerges out of her song is silence and voice. As I read the lyrics of her songs and annotated them I realized that mostly she spoke about having your (reader) own opinion, additionally she speaks about that sometimes a woman is not able to take a stand, she is caged in this society that it male dominant. This is why she speaks about women empowerment and confidence throughout all her songs. Her music is a combination of culture, society and gender roles. The first song I would like to talk about is definitely, “I am the Lyte” MC Lyte (Ft. Grand Puba) – I Am the Lyte. (1989, October 03). This specific song is an example of confidence and the wreck she was creating around the country. One of lyrics that said, “And when I drop the bomb, you will listen, Boom! Now that’s I have got your attention.” When she will come in the field, the audience and public will hear her, she will gain the attention, respect and honor she deserves. Not only that but she wanted to show the world that if a woman really wants to do something she can and no one can stop her. Furthermore, MC Lyte not only talks to the women of her race or color but she speaks to the women outside of her community as well that are getting treated in a wrong way and were not able to take a stand for them-selves.
How it works
The theme that I thought of while reading her lyrics and listening to her songs were silence and voice, as I mentioned earlier. Silence and voice are two broad words that contain deep meanings. A chapter that I was reading in Joan Morgan’s book, “When chicken heads come home to roost”, reminded me of the themes I obtained and the line was, “What I kicked to the curb was the years of social conditioning that told me it was my destiny to live my life as Black woman emeritus.” The author mentions this line because her whole life she went through many obstacles and now she wants to condition the society and bring change for the future generations. She felt that God has made this the purpose of life, to bring change for the community of Black Women. Going back to my chosen artist, MC Lyte also had a purpose to bring in change. A change for the young girls that can fly with open wings, that don’t feel caged in any type of way. Joan Morgan and MC Lyte both share their strong opinions in different ways. One by writing a book, and another by performing and by bringing wreck through her empowering music. Their voice for freedom and success was from a group of thousands of women that were suffering. Being in a male dominated society, often women are not able to talk or give their opinions. They don’t feel safe and their dreams remain dreams and are never able to turn into reality.
Additionally, Lana spoke about not getting paid properly and during that time which was between the (1980’s and 1990’s) there also loss of jobs among Black women led the plaintiffs to argue that seniority-based layoffs, guided by the principle “last hired-first fired,” discriminated against Black women workers at General Motors, extending past discriminatory practices by the company. Another theme I had to share as it is so related to the theories and struggles Black women faced was, “Unemployed Black Women.” This is also something I am going to speak about strongly in my social change project. The reason why I find MC Lyte to be a perfect example of everything that I have written in this essay is because she keeps mentioning self -power in all her songs and she always said that a woman should be strong enough and most importantly they should take a stand for each other. Additionally, my main goal of the social change project I am creating is to spread awareness that Black women should get employed wherever they want and they shouldn’t be judged by their skin color, physical appearance, ethnicity or anything. Black women deserve equal rights, yes we all know that women in America are empowered and are doing well. But, the real question is, Is America really a country of true Women Empowerment? Because my research and experiences have shown me that even today, many places and jobs pay unequally to women. A white woman would get paid more than a Black/Asian or a Hispanic women. Why? Why are we creating boundaries? You are a woman and so am I, so why are we getting treated differently? This is what I want to bring awareness for, and I hope that I spread this awareness to as many people as I can.
Black women tolerated a lot in the music industry and within this ocean the first ray of sunshine was literally MC Lyte. She brought wreck so quickly that it was just unbelievable. For womanhood in the society she became a symbol of power. Her lyrics were just not song lyrics, each sentence in each of her songs carried a deep meaning within itself. Every woman wanted to bring a change in every field, to create women empowerment. Another song I would like to share is, “Everyday”, by MC Lyte. I would like to annotate a few lyrics for this song too, as I did earlier. “Every day I need my shit done in a special way every day.” She wants to inspire women and keep inspiring them every day with a fresh, new goal or song that empowers women. The third line says, “Just thinking about what they need”, this is a very strong sentence many people wouldn’t think about this sentence as deeply Lana wanted it to reach out. She constantly thought of the issues young female were facing and wanted to give them the confidence to take a stand for themselves and raise their voice. Silence in voice, as I said earlier but now there was no space for silence, there was only space for voice, as loud and as clear each voice can be. Her goal was not to repeat herself, but bring in fresh beats and lyrics. The other line I felt carried a lot of power was, “7 whole days, I demand my respect.” She wants to be treated fairly and wants to get the respect she deserves no matter it is payment wise, society wise, etc. Throughout the song, (Everyday) Lyrics.com, she speaks about having self -respect and having the demands one should have. She wants women to live their lives the way they want, without having a man telling them what to do and where to go.
Black women, who often had to work in order to keep their family afloat and therefore did not have the luxury of being homemakers, did not feel as though these issues pertained to their experiences. At the same time, many black women experienced sexism while participating in the Civil Rights movement and were often shut out of leadership positions. This intersectional experience of facing racism in the feminist movement and sexism in civil rights encouraged black women to call for a feminist practice that centralized their lived experiences. It was time for Black women and young girls to not expect people who face different systems of oppression than you to rally for causes you care about if you do not rally for theirs. As you hear about issues others face, learn about the work that is currently being done around these topics. Listen and defer to those who live with these intersectional identities each day. Black feminism aims to empower Black women with new and on critical ways of thinking that centered how racism and sexism worked together to create Black women’s social issues and inequalities. The Back Feminism Theory advocates for listening to and learning about the experiences of black women and the politics that affect their voices. Black feminism functions as a critical social theory that helps readers of the social world understand how black women can be marginalized through institutional structures and practices and social norms. Also, the fact that they have seen the worst things possible, from having family members that were sadly a part of slavery, to having no freedom to vote or having a voice. Silence, that all Black women were forced to follow back then, because no one would listen to them or any change was not possible.
There was a voice that was living in every Black female body and a heart that wanted to break its silence and leave the cage but was not able to. But when the Black Feminist Theory was launched things started to change. Through self-definition of their realities, black women’s experiences inform their knowledge. There is value in viewing one’s own experiences as a form of knowledge that can be shared with others. Black feminist epistemology taps into understanding how marginalized groups like black women create knowledge that fuels their own empowerment and supports social justice. Marxist inspired the country by the U.S Black Liberation movement, decided to put gender at the center of their theorizing and appropriated the term patriarchy to explain a system of male domination. On the other hand, the Africana critical theory speaks in the favor of a conjunctive approach to critical theory which was a beginning that placed race and gender along with class and sexuality at the center of not only the critical analyses of contemporary community but, in fact at the center of the creation, deconstruction and construction of the radical theories and revolutionary praxes that aimed at changing contemporary society.
These theories played an important role when they were released and still are always spoken about. The goal was to bring social change, freedom and equality. This is the main base of my Social change project, to bring opportunities for Black women regarding capable jobs that pay equally and fairly. In an attempt to redefine black sexuality, Black female artists regain sexual identity as a representation of female desire as opposed to an objectification of male desire. As many men thought of woman as a sexual product who were just used to show off and make the music videos look cute.
MC Lyte, spoke about the problems she use to face as back in the 1990’s (in this video) UNIVERSE, S. (2015, December 21). First Aid with Kelly Kinkaid: MC Lyte Speaks on being ‘Unstoppable: Igniting the Power Within’. She spoke about the wage issues she had to deal with as the producers were not supportive enough. By seeing the society these days I realized that African Americans have risen up to a many of the highest positions in America such as entrepreneurs, CEOs, business advisors, corporate investment banker and not only that but Barak Obama became the first African America President of the United States of America. Martin Luther once said that, “One day a Black man will be a president of the United States of America”, that was his dream and Barak Obama made it come true. Although there are many great high positions being held by African Americans both male and female, as I just spoke about it shows that the African Americans have made their mark in America, but the race of African Americans as a whole still has a long way to go. The journey for gaining the respect, freedom and equality Black men and women has been filled with many obstacles.
However, women suffered a lot. I remember my professor once spoke about that African American women who were slaves were not allowed to buy perfume or nice smelling products, so what they did was that they used dishwashing liquid and detergent to put it on their skin so they don’t smell like the men who worked in the fields. They never really had any feminine products, which is very disheartening to think about, but it was sadly true. Another woman, I would like to talk about is Nina Simone. She was a singer, a Civil Rights activist and an author who spoke about pure reality and real world issues. She wanted every Black woman to feel secured and beautiful the way they are. Nina also became known as the voice of the Civil Rights Movement. Another woman who wanted to bring change by sharing her traumatic experiences about her being a slave and her childhood was none another than, Harriet Jacobs. She was as strong as a pillar. One of her powerful strong quotes that literally gave me goose bumps when I read it was, “I was born a slave; but I never knew till six years of happy childhood had passed away.” She was one of the few strong and powerful ladies who stood up for what is right and took action against it. She wanted to bring change for the young females, as she didn’t want them to experience the situations what she experienced in her life.
Nina Simone, MC Lyte and Harriet Jacobs always shared one goal, to bring wreck in their own ways into the society. To gain freedom and break all the boundaries one possibly can. I remember a few weeks ago my professor played a video in class, “The Black Power Mix tape”, which was shot by 1967-1975 and it spoke about some individuals and their experiences. One of the important things the video spoke about was busses. In the local transportation, African Americans were told to sit all the way in the back and if there were a white man to step inside the bus and couldn’t find a spot a Black man must get up and offer him the seat. Some of the important people that were included in this video were Abiodun Oyewole, Stokely Carmichael, Talib Kweli and Martin Luther King. They all stood up and took action for the issues Black Americans were experiencing.
Moreover, the one lady that is from the current generation who brought wreck, wrote books and taught the society about the issues and problems African Americans are going through these days that are not spoke about much is non another than, Imani Perry. In chapter 6, page 156-177, “The Venus Hip Hop and the Pink Ghetto”, she speaks about issues women dealed with regarding pink ghetto and about MC Lyte. MC lyte was a young woman who had a makeup free face and was amazingly skilled. Although, she was very talented many individuals pointed fingers at her and said negative things. Women Hip Hop artists and producers suffered a lot and faced a tough path in the male-dominated society and musical form. Black women in every filed had a tough time and had to fight. Women, in fact have been negatively stereotyped in the American society, mostly portrayed as submissive and passive while at the same time seen as pushy and disobedient. These contradictory representations are doubly forced upon Black women.
Contemporary critical social theory, clearly extended well beyond the critique of race and class, and feminists have long argued that gender domination and discrimination inform and often deform modern human identity. Chapter 1.In Hip Hop’s Inheritance (pp. 20-25). Reiland Rabaka. The Black Power Movement was much needed and it was time to raise a voice. Another song that I would like to talk about that is related to the theories and issues I just spoke about is MC Lyte’s, “I am a Woman.” The first line caught my attention as she started by saying, “I am a woman, hear me roar.” Let the voice that has been silent for many years get heard. Let the silent lioness roar now. Further, she adds, “When I grab the mic it’s never a bore.” She has the power to get your attention and to wrap you (audience) up within her powerful lyrics. She will keep getting better and better in the world of Hip Hop. She was the first woman to actually become an artist/rapper, which was a very huge achievement within those days as it was very hard for women to get out of the shell they were living in. When MC Lyte became such an inspiring artist, many young females started to get into this filed as they gained the confidence through Lana’s impressive work an performances. It was not easy for her either, as a Black woman she also faced many obstacles but she knew that she was the queen and was born with a purpose to bring wreck and to bring a big change for women. This is an interview that she spoke about her few struggles that she went through in, TV, M. (2014, November 19). MC Lyte talks struggles as a female emcee, (Remy Ma pays homage).
Moreover, my goal before writing this essay was to speak about how my artist, MC lyte brought wreck, I also wanted to include all the theories that I felt were related to my theme and topic for the social changing project I am creating. Additionally, I wanted to speak about how African Americans have been dealing with the social issues since so long, the issues women faced and were and still many are unemployed. A big change needs to come and we need more women like MC Lyte, Nina Simone and Harriet Jacobs to bring wreck and freedom. This essay was a combination of a collection of the topics and powerful individuals my professor went over in class throughout this semester. My knowledge about African American culture and music has tremendously increased as my professor spoke about it very clearly and honestly. I wrote this essay with all my heart as I can truly feel how Black women have been suffering since the past years and still are. I have many friends who are Black and they shared their thoughts about this topic and told me how hard it gets sometimes to be a part of a country where still sadly some individuals are not welcoming. I would also like to thank Dr. Antoinette Ellis – Williams for being such a great professor. She has really been a motherly figure and someone I look up to. Thank you for everything and I hope you enjoyed reading my essay and i hope I reached all the conditions that were supposed to be fulfilled.
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