In 2016, MC Lyte appeared on an episode of the now-defunct Oxygen reality TV show, Sisterhood of Hip Hop.
The hip-hop icon wanted the show’s stars, Siya, Brianna Perry, Audra The Rapper, and Lee Mazin to jump on a record with her. She was introduced on the series as a successful artist, but also as a mentor who cares about aspiring female artists trying to make it in hip-hop.
Often, when celebrities offer mentorship, cynics and skeptics may view this as being “just for show,” suspecting that it’s simply part of a PR campaign. And unfortunately, sometimes there is truth to that. That’s not the case with MC Lyte. She was offering mentorship to women in the music industry well before her deeds were being publicized.
I know this because I was a part of her organization, Hip Hop Sisters, during its formative years. There were monthly phone calls where we would speak with her, and discuss issues in the industry and the difficulties faced by women. I’ll never forget when MC Lyte fluidly taught us how to become members of the Recording Academy step by step, an important move that would give us a voice in the music industry, give us insight into how it works, and also allow us to expand our professional networks. At the time, I didn’t even know it was possible to join, and I couldn’t believe that I had acquired the information from MC Lyte herself.
Who would have thought that MC Lyte, an award-winning rapper, actor, DJ, voice over talent, and public speaker would have time to freely chat with a bunch of women who were successful in their own right, but who maybe didn’t have the same amount of accolades as her? Let alone give us detailed advice and instructions on how to vote for the Grammys. Thanks to her, Hip-Hop Sisters was a supportive organization, comprised of women rappers, DJs, journalists, bloggers, and others who were a part of the hip-hop industry.
A few years before joining Hip Hop Sisters (2010), MC Lyte had personally reached out to me to interview her for my blog, The Fembassy, which was solely dedicated to women in hip-hop. When I initially received the email, I thought it was a cruel joke. But it wasn’t. It was then that I knew that the Grammy-nominated artist truly had her ear to the streets and kept her eye on upcoming women MCs, most of whom were ignored by the industry. She’d made it, and she wanted to use her position to help other women of color to do the same.
“I think it’s of grave importance that not only me but my entire crew be able to give whatever knowledge we can to upcoming artists,” Lyte said during a 2016 interview with Essence magazine regarding her mentorship.
“I get a lot of inquiries about the business from female artists, and I guess that’s because they’ve seen the success level with what it is that we do. Female MCs, as well as women in general, face quite a bit when entering specifically in the world of entertainment.”
Although Hip Hop Sisters’ main focus is to offer mentorship to women in entertainment, it also gives away scholarships to young black boys.
“With Hip Hop Sisters, the foundation we aim to address what’s happening in the climate today as it relates to young black men by giving scholarships. This is, to me, the best answer because education gives you so many more options, which leads to more opportunities. There’s so much that needs to be learned, and when you have that knowledge you’re able to accomplish so much more.”
Hip Hop Sisters launched in 2012 and has since given away thousands of dollars in scholarships, and has provided national and international support to women, men, and youth around the globe on the topics of cultural issues, financial empowerment, health and wellness, mentorship, and educational opportunities.
Learn more about Hip-Hop Sisters here.
Glennisha Morgan is a Detroit-bred multimedia journalist and writer. She writes about intersectionality, hip-hop, pop culture, queer issues, race, feminism, and her truth. Follow her on Twitter @GlennishaMorgan