MC Lyte Sets the Game Straight on ‘Legend’ [ALBUM REVIEW]
On Legend, Lyte made the album super exclusive by releasing it with a modified “surprise release”, somewhat reminiscent of what Beyoncé and D’Angelo have done, but in her case, the album was only available for download one day with the option for in-person purchases at listening parties and concerts. The album itself is a creative, soulful, real, conscious, and classic body of work, boasting an impressive slate of features that highlights industry heavyweights and gives exposure to lesser known artists. But most importantly, Legend is crafted around giving Lyte room to just flow.
I took the liberty of reviewing it track-by-track. You’re welcome.
1. We Here Now featuring Mario
The album opener has an anthemic feel. Lyte is straight fire from beginning to end, and Mario has the perfect voice to complement the airy chorus. From the very start, MC Lyte makes it clear that her music and talent are not just of a certain era. They are timeless.
2. Ball featuring Lil’ Mama & AV
A mature and deft “I make money” knocker, “Ball” shows that Lyte is still mighty with a pen and she shows no signs of slowing. Lil’ Mama makes a pleasant feature as her style is highly reminiscent of Lyte’s, but she definitely isn’t ready to take on her mantle.
3. Bomb Wild Out featuring AV
“Bomb Wild Out” rides hard. Point blank. She swiftly dismisses current rappers, letting them know that “she’s not ratchet” but she has “a sumo flow, leave you where the mat is.” She seems to be firing straight at Nicki Minaj, saying “that character you’re playing bout to get his ass kicked.” And I approve.
4. Dear John featuring Common & 10Beats
Used as the theme song for her “” foundation, “Dear John” is a shout out to black men and the troubles they face daily. The piano-laden track is refreshing in comparison to most of rap in the radio, inspired by the feel of classic rap tunes and current sounds.
5. Last Time featuring Faith Evans & Coko
“Last Time” is a clear standout on the album if only for the potent combination of Faith Evans and Coko. Lyte’s rhythmic genius laid over their immaculate harmonies is divine. Keep this on repeat.
Through this entire album, MC Lyte proves that it is completely unnecessary to be over the top to get your point across, and “Wanted” is a prime example. She makes it clear that she is desirable and in demand, without graphically describing her body of serial prowess. This is empowerment at its finest.
7. Cravin’ featuring Stan Carrizosa
“Cravin'” is a perfect cookout song. It’s a perfect family reunion song. Sonically, it is right in the vein of Will Smith’s “Summertime,” with that feel-good party vibe. The freshness that dominates the album is at its zenith here.
8. 40 Days featuring StayC Reign
“40 Days” is one of the more “street” tracks of the album, as found in the hard-edged beat and Lyte’s masterful delivery. It’s a grinding template, putting everyone on notice that there are no shortcuts to achieving what she has, monetarily or otherwise.
9. Way Back
Another call out to her lengthy career, she spouts that she has accomplished and raked in everything rappers boast about since “Way Back.” That easily, over a slow riding beat, she downplays her competition and sets herself above the fray.
On “Check,” she presents a checklist of her achievements, the biggest being that she is still going. It’s straight fire.
11. Love On Me featuring Kenny Lattimore
The futuristic elements employed here initially come as a bit of a shock. And Lattimore’s falsetto on the chorus is different from his usual straight R&B delivery. This is clearly the weakest track on the album, making it a strange album closer, but it is also the most vulnerable as MC Lyte pontificates on love.
When you think about all of the sub par rappers out right now that are getting shine off of worthless music, MC Lyte’s Legend couldn’t have come at a better time. This album is what hip hop used to be and should continue to be. MC Lyte delivers true lyricism. And while some of her shots might seem aimed straight at Nicki Minaj, this album is a challenge to the entire industry to stay true to the genre’s roots. Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone is equipped to take on that challenge.
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