I don’t usually care for Steve Harvey’s shenanigans but today, his latest episode of “The Steve Harvey Show” put a big smile on my face.
In it, Harvey honored the amazing MC Lyte as a Female Groundbreaker for her accomplishments as the first female solo rapper in history. Since 1988, Lyte has been making history as the first woman to put out a full length rap album, her famous work entitled “Lyte As A Rock.” Lyte was also the first woman to be nominated for a Grammy as a rap artist. Now, she’s putting out her first album in 12 years called “Legend.”
During the show, Lyte reminisced on her humble beginnings and the challenges she faced as a pioneer in the rap game. In Lyte’s own mind, she was just a regular girl but as an adult, she has a different perspective on her track in the music industry.
“I just was speaking for my neighborhood and talking about things that were real for me. I didn’t realize it until much later, until I became an adult, how difficult what I had done was.”
Lyte remembered one instance in particular in which she had to stand up to Heavy D while on tour:
I would find myself in situations where I had to speak up for myself. I remember one time specifically, Heavy D was supposed to be the one that was going to close the show. You know, as the headliner, you get the big money. But sometimes, it gets late in the night, people get tired, they start leaving and so he wanted to switch places. I got to the venue and they told me that I was going on later. And I was like, ‘Oh no, that can’t happen.’ And they said, ‘well you’re the only one that can go talk to him.’ And so I went and talked to him and he was looking at me like ‘who is this little something talking to me like she’s my momma?’ But at the end he let me go on in the space that I wanted to so that was great.
Lyte went on to talk about how her mother had studied to be a school teacher and had instilled a passion for education and writing in her from a young age.
I was her number one student so at all costs, I was her pupil and I had to write essays for everything I wanted to do including: going to the hip hop club, going to the studio…I became a great essay writer.
The episode got even better when Lyte announced that she was awarding Cortney Rhodes, a 19-year-old graduate of Harvey’s mentoring camp, $50,000 in scholarship money to attend Dillard University. Rhodes and his mother, Linda Steele, were shocked as they were given the news on stage. Rhodes had his heart set on attending college in New Orleans and Dillard is one of the most respected HBCUs in the country.
Lyte gave Rhodes the scholarship money on behalf of her Hip Hop Sisters Foundation and its “#EducateOurMen” Initiative. Hip Hop Sisters was started as a non-profit to generate and share uplifting images of women of color and to foster partnerships in the entertainment industry. Lyte is not alone in her work; her foundation includes famous advisory board members like Faith Evans, Salt from Salt and Pepper, Chilli, Russell Simmons and Jada Pinkett Smith.
In 2014, Hip Hop Sisters gave away $50,000 in three scholarships at the Soul Train Music Awards. Two years earlier in 2012, Hip Hop Sisters awarded two $100,000 scholarships to two young women to attend the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
“The movement is all about redefining the essence of young girls and women through hip hop through unity, empowerment, inspiration,” Lyte said on the red carpet at the 2012 Soul Train Awards. “I just want to help them define themselves for themselves and not be so easily swayed into believing what it is that they’ve heard through lyric and song.”
Fabulous work, Lyte! And congratulations to Cortney; we wish him all the best at Dillard! See the full episode of “The Steve Harvey Show” tomorrow, Wednesday Oct 21. Check here for local listings.