Finding The GOAT: MC Lyte vs. MCA…Who You Got?
As we continue the ultimate battle for the title of the GOAT (Greatest of All-Time), we are asking you to help us rank who is the greatest MC to pick up a mic. We will take over 35 years of Hip-Hop into consideration, pairing special match-ups in a sequence not unlike March Madness. For the next several months, we will roll out battles, starting with artists from similar eras paired against one another, until one undisputed King or Queen of the microphone reigns supreme.
The next two MCs to square-off kicked in the doors in the 1980s of what MCs looked like, and sounded like at the commercial level: MC Lyte and MCA. Both Brooklyn natives, these mid-’80s greats solidified careers that were rooted in Hip-Hop’s beginnings, a testament to their execution and authenticity. Read these quite different backgrounds and histories, listen to their music and cast your vote.
Not only has MC Lyte helped set a tall standard for gender equality in MC’ing and Hip-Hop, she has been an elite rapper throughout the culture for nearly 30 years. The younger sister of Audio Two’s Milk D and Giz, Lyte’s career would eclipse her siblings, as the First Priority Records protege would eventually help usher Hip-Hop to major labels like Atlantic and EastWest Records.
A native of Brooklyn, Lyte balanced the ability to tell stories from rarely heard perspectives (“Cram 2 Understand U,” “Poor Georgie”) with hard edged bravado (“Paper Thin,” “Cha Cha Cha,” “Ruffneck”). Although she remains a beauty, Lyte’s career never relied on gimmicks or crutched sexuality to enhance the Billboard Top 100 artist’s base or reach. Instead, Lyte held tightly to her 1980s Hip-Hop ideals, and remains closely in tact with that approach, a beacon of artistic authenticity and durability.
Although Lyte only boasts one Top 10 single (1996’s “Keep On, Keepin’ On”), Lana Moorer is a household name for her vast contributions to Hip-Hop. Lyte showed that the stereotypical gender roles in Hip-Hop are paper thin, as she remains a mentor to female and male artists of all kinds, all while still making thoughtful, edgy music in the 2010s.
The late Adam Yauch revolutionized what an MC sounded like, looked like, and talked about. The Beastie Boys’ defacto front man brought a Punk Rock aesthetic to Hip-Hop in the 1980s. With ringer t-shirts, scuffed Stan Smiths, and some “inherited” lounge-wear, MCA was a true original. However, it’s what the Brooklynite said on the mic, and how he said it that matched this aesthetic.
With a raspy, nasal voice, MCA complemented bandmates Mike D and Ad Rock brilliantly. Whether classic routines (“Three MCs and One DJ,” “Paul Revere”) or getting social (“An Open Letter To NYC,” “Too Many Rappers,”) the tragically missed rapper showed why he carried “MC” in his stage name.
In four different decades, MCA flexed his skills, influencing everybody from Cypress Hill to Nas. A multi-platinum artist who never pursued a solo music career, MCA thrived in showing Hip-Hop (at an incredibly high level) to many masses that were standing at the gate, with ties to Punk, Turntablism, Classic Rock, and Rare Groove.
Voting For Round 1 is now closed. Stay up to date with the latest Finding The GOAT brackets