ESTELLE PHOTO CREDIT: COURTESY OF SOPHY HOLLAND / MC LYTE PHOTO CREDIT: D'ANDRE MICHAEL
Black Music Collective Podcast: How Estelle Became A Global R&B And Reggae Icon
In the latest episode of the "Black Music Collective Podcast," GRAMMY-winning artist and Black Music Collective member Estelle discusses her journey to international prowess in the R&B and reggae spaces
In the newest episode of the "Recording Academy x EBONY: Black Music Collective Podcast," a new podcast series presented by Procter & Gamble, host and two-time GRAMMY nominee MC Lyte chats with GRAMMY-winning music icon Estelle.
Estelle's climactic rise from local West London MC to GRAMMY-winning, international artist is a story of legend. As a recording artist, Estelle has released five solo albums and countless genre-spanning features and collaborations. At the 51st GRAMMY Awards in 2009, she won a GRAMMY for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for her international hit “American Boy,” featuring Kanye West, which was also nominated for Song Of The Year that same year. She received a GRAMMY nomination for Best R&B Performance for her song “Thank You” at the 55th GRAMMY Awards in 2013.
Her 2018 album, Lovers Rock, represented a full-circle moment for Estelle, who dedicated the soundscape to the sounds of Africa and the Caribbean. But even that triumph of a release — the latest in a series of artistic peaks — doesn't represent the Black Music Collective member's full story.
In 2019, she threw Dancehall & Afrobeat Link Up Presented By Estelle, the first sell-out event at ESSENCE Festival. Plus, she's been venturing into animation, voicing the character Garnet on the Emmy-nominated, critically acclaimed animated TV series "Steven Universe."
Listen to Estelle discuss her journey to international prowess in the R&B and reggae spaces and much more in the newest episode of the "Recording Academy x EBONY: Black Music Collective Podcast" above.
About The Recording Academy x EBONY: Black Music Collective Podcast:
The "Recording Academy x EBONY: Black Music Collective Podcast" is a six-part podcast series presented by Procter & Gamble. Hosted by MC Lyte, the series includes various members of the Recording Academy's Black Music Collective (BMC), a group of prominent Black music creators and professionals who share the common goal of amplifying Black voices within the Academy and beyond, who discuss their contributions and impact within the community and the music industry at large.
The "Recording Academy x EBONY: Black Music Collective Podcast" streams every Thursday at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT through July 29 on EBONY.com and EBONY's YouTube channel and Facebook page, as well as on GRAMMY.com/BlackMusicCollectivePodcast and the Recording Academy's official Facebook page and YouTube channel.
Dave Koz, MC Lyte host 2012 GRAMMY Pre-Telecast Ceremony
Co-hosted by Dave Koz and MC Lyte, ceremony to present nearly 70 awards and feature performances from Kim Burrell, Joyce DiDonato, Reirth Brass Band, and Trin-I-Tee 5:7, among others
The 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards Pre-Telecast Ceremony will take place on Sunday, Feb. 12 from 1–3:30 p.m. PT at the Los Angeles Convention Center and will be streamed live in its entirety internationally at www.grammy.com/live and www.cbs.com.
Attended by nominees and industry VIPs, the star-studded ceremony with be co-hosted by current GRAMMY nominee Dave Koz and Recording Academy Los Angeles Chapter President and rapper MC Lyte.
The Pre-Telecast will feature performances by current nominees Kim Burrell, Le'Andria Johnson, Kelly Price, and Trin-I-Tee 5:7 in a "Ladies of Gospel" segment as well as current nominees mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, singer/songwriter Steve Earle and New Orleans' Rebirth Brass Band.
Presenting the first GRAMMY Awards of the night in 68 categories will be current nominees Gerald Clayton, Chick Corea, Brandon Heath, Arturo O'Farrill, OK Go, Corinne Bailey Rae, and Esperanza Spalding as well as GRAMMY-winning producer Jimmy Jam.
Co-host Koz is nominated for Best Pop Instrumental Album for Hello Tomorrow.
Performers Burrell, Earle, Johnson, Rebirth Brass Band, and Trin-I-Tee 5:7 each have one nod: Burrell for Best Gospel Album for The Love Album; Earle for Best Folk Album for I'll Never Get Out Of This World Alive; Johnson for Best Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music Performance for "Jesus"; Rebirth Brass Band for Best Regional Roots Music Album for Rebirth Of New Orleans; and Trin-I-Tee 5:7 for Best Gospel Album for Angel & Chanelle Deluxe Edition. DiDonato has two nominations for Best Opera Recording for Vivaldi: Ercole Sul Termodonte and Best Classical Vocal Solo for "Diva Divo." Price has three nods for Best R&B Performance (with Stokley) and Best R&B song for "Not My Daddy" and Best R&B Album for Kelly.
Presenters Clayton, O'Farrill, OK Go, Rae, and Spalding each have one nomination: Clayton for Best Jazz Instrumental Album for Bond: The Paris Sessions; O'Farrill for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album for 40 Acres And A Burro; OK Go for Best Short Form Music Video for "All Is Not Lost"; Rae for Best R&B Performance for "Is This Love"; and Spalding for Best Jazz Instrumental Album for Bird Songs (with Joe Lovano/Us Five). Corea has two nominations for Best Improvised Jazz Solo for "500 Miles High," and Best Jazz Instrumental Album for Forever (with Stanley Clarke and Lenny White). Heath has three nominations for Best Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music Performance and Best Contemporary Christian Music Song for "Your Love," and Best Contemporary Christian Music Album for Leaving Eden.
The live stream of the Pre-Telecast will remain on GRAMMY.com as video on demand for 30 days following the event. Following the ceremony, the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards will be broadcast live on the CBS Television Network from 8–11:30 p.m. ET/PT.
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5 Questions With ... MC Lyte
GRAMMY-nominated artist visits The Recording Academy
(A portion of the proceeds from The Recording Academy Los Angeles Chapter's GRAMMY Block Party benefitted PATH, a Los Angeles-based organization dedicated to ending homelessness for individuals, families and communities.)
GRAMMY-nominated artist and Recording Academy Los Angeles Chapter President MC Lyte was the recent guest for an installment of The Academy's 5 Questions With … series. Held during the Los Angeles Chapter's GRAMMY Block Party at The Academy's headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif., Lyte discussed sexism in hip-hop, songwriting, the first time she heard her music on the radio, and the importance of Recording Academy membership, among other topics.
"No, I don't think [things] have changed," said Lyte of the male-dominated hip-hop world. "I think it takes the male MC stepping out in front and saying it's OK publicly to appreciate a woman."
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Lyte is one of the pioneering female rappers who helped set the stage for artists such as GRAMMY winners Queen Latifah and Missy Elliott. She began rhyming at age 12 and subsequently recorded "I Cram To Understand U," which landed her a recording deal with First Priority Music. In 1988 Lyte released her debut full-length album, Lyte As A Rock, which peaked in the Top 50 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. Eyes On This followed in 1989, peaking at No. 6 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and spawning the No. 1 rap single "Cha Cha Cha." An R&B-focused album, 1991's Act Like You Know, but in 1993 Lyte returned to her rap roots with Ain't No Other, which earned a GRAMMY nomination for Best Rap Solo Performance for the Billboard Hot 100 Top 40 hit "Ruffneck." The single was certified gold, marking the first for a female rap artist.
Lyte released Bad As I Wanna B in 1996 featuring "Cold Rock A Party," a duet with Elliot that peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100. Seven & Seven followed in 1998, including guest appearances by Elliot and LL Cool J, among others. In 2003 Lyte released Da Undaground Heat, Vol. 1, resulting in a second GRAMMY nomination for Best Rap Solo Performance for "Ride Wit Me." Lyte currently serves as the head of music at DuBose/Liles Entertainment and executive vice president for DuBose Music Group.
Click on the "5 Questions With ... interviews" tag below for links to other GRAMMY News stories in this series.
Source Photos (L-R): Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy; Josh Brasted/FilmMagic; Scott Dudelson/Getty Images; Theo Wargo/Getty Images; Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
5 Women Essential To Rap: Cardi B, Lil' Kim, MC Lyte, Sylvia Robinson & Tierra Whack
In honor of Women’s History Month, GRAMMY.com highlights some of the culture-shifting women who have changed the course of rap, spotlighting one artist who is moving the genre forward
Women have always been essential to rap and, today, they’re getting their deserved recognition more than ever before. Female rappers have continuously contributed to rap's sound, fashion, commercial success not just compared to their male counterparts, but across the genre — increasing its global impact.
The lyrical prowess of early pioneers such as MC Sha-Rock and MC Lyte demanded respect in a male-dominated industry, while rappers such as Queen Latifah, Monie Love and Yo-Yo advanced conscious hip-hop and confronted misogyny. Salt-N-Pepa owned their sex appeal, while Lil’ Kim introduced a feminine perspective to a sex-positive narrative that had previously been controlled by men.
The current and future landscape of women in rap appears even brighter. Gone is the genre’s unwritten rule that only one female superstar can exist at a time, and women are thriving in new ready-to-be-conquered rap territory. In 2020, Nicki Minaj and Doja Cat’s "Say So (Remix)" topped the Billboard Hot 100, marking the first time a female rap collaboration led the chart. That same year, Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s "WAP" broke the record for the biggest debut steaming week in U.S. history. Today, more women rappers are finding success than ever before — from City Girls and Latto, to Saweetie and Flo Milli.
In honor of Women’s History Month, GRAMMY.com highlights some of the pioneering, culture-shifting women who have changed the course of rap and one promising up-and-comer who is at the forefront of the genre’s future.
MC Lyte: The first GRAMMY-nominated female hip-hop artist and first woman to release a solo rap album
A 16-year-old MC Lyte broke onto the rap scene with the single, "I Cram To Understand U (Sam)" in 1987. The following year, she released her debut album, Lyte As A Rock, becoming the first female rapper to release a solo album.
Lyte’s first three albums spawned hits like "Cha Cha Cha," "Paper Thin," "10% Dis" and "Poor Georgie." In 1993, the acclaimed anthem "Ruffneck" became Lyte’s third No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot Rap Singles chart and was certified gold, making her the first female rapper to achieve the feat. "Ruffneck" was also nominated for Best Rap Solo Performance at the 36th GRAMMY Awards in 1994, designating Lyte as the first-ever GRAMMY-nominated woman rapper.
MC Lyte’s conscientious records and classic hits drew critical acclaim and commercial success, making her an influence on female rap for generations to come. A true pioneer, she was honored with the I Am Hip Hop Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2013 BET Hip Hop Awards.
Sylvia Robinson: Sugar Hill Records founder and "Mother of Hip-Hop"
Rightfully nicknamed the "Mother of Hip Hop," Sylvia Robinson helped push rap into the public music arena. Robinson started out as a chart-topping R&B singer, releasing "Love Is Strange" in 1956 with her duo, Mickey & Sylvia. After a solo singing and songwriting career, Robinson founded Sugar Hill Records in the 1970s. With the label, she assembled Harlem rap trio the Sugarhill Gang and produced their 1979 hit, "Rapper’s Delight," which went on to be the first rap single to break the Billboard Hot 100 Top 40.
Besides having a hand in one of hip-hop’s first hits, Robinson was also instrumental in one of the genre’s most impactful records. In 1982, she co-produced "The Message" for Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. The track broke ground lyrically — detailing the gritty realities of growing up in poverty — and creatively, as it was the first rap song where the DJ was not involved in its creation, setting the stage for MCs to become the stars of hip-hop. In an interview, Grandmaster Flash conceded that without Robinson’s insistence and direction, "The Message" would never have been created.
Lil’ Kim: The "Queen of Rap" who reinvented hip-hop fashion
Salt-N-Pepa introduced feminist sex appeal to hip-hop, but Lil’ Kim took it a step further. The Brooklyn native burst onto the rap scene in 1996 with her solo debut album Hard Core, quickly gaining attention with her raunchy lyrics and feminine style. Prior to Kim, rappers like Queen Latifah and MC Lyte had gained entry to the male-dominated hip-hop space with masculine swagger and fashion. Choosing instead to steal the spotlight with jaw-dropping and sexy styles, Kim created a new avenue for women rappers — owning their sexuality — which is still mimicked today.
"[Lil' Kim] was the first time for me that I saw that much sexiness in female hip-hop," Trina, whose own explicit lyrics catapulted her to success in the late '90s and early 2000s, recounted in "The Real Queens of Hip-Hop," TV special. "She created and started that."
Kim also pushed the boundaries for female rap music success. Her debut album Hard Core debuted at No. 11 on the Billboard 200, the highest-ranking debut for a woman MC at the time. Kim was also the first female rapper to have three consecutive No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot Rap Tracks chart; her GRAMMY-winning collaboration with Christina Aguilera, P!nk and Mýa, "Lady Marmalade," was the best-selling single of 2001.
Cardi B: Pushing female rap to new commercial heights
Cardi B’s commercial success ushered in a new era of mainstream domination and profitability for female rappers. Creating her own celebrity through social media and reality TV, the Bronx native made history with her 2018 debut album, Invasion of Privacy. The record was the best-selling female rap album of the 2010s and won Best Rap Album at the 61st GRAMMY Awards in 2019, making Cardi the first solo female rapper to win the award. Her breakout hit, 2017’s "Bodak Yellow," also became the first diamond-certified single by a woman rapper. She’s since tacked on two other diamond records: Maroon 5’s "Girls Like You" and "I Like It" featuring Bad Bunny and J. Balvin.
Cardi’s commercial success, brand partnerships and social media appeal helped break hip-hop’s one woman superstar at a time mold by proving female rap’s lucrative potential to the masses. As Cardi tweeted in 2019, "I didn’t say I pave[d] the way for female rappers, but I deff gave the hood and women hope. Nikkas wasn’t collabing with female rappers. Labels where [sic] signing female rappers and putting them in a shelf and not focusing on them, not giving them proper attention… How many female rappers before me where [sic] getting chances or getting pushed? They wasn’t believing and now they are!"
Tierra Whack: Rising rap artist leading the next generation
Tierra Whack continues to push the envelope with both her eclectic style and lyrics. At a time when sex-positive femcees rule the charts, Whack instead leads with creativity and quirkiness. Innovative and wildly eccentric music videos ( à la Missy Elliott) are an artistic staple for the 26-year-old, who earned her first GRAMMY nomination for Best Music Video with her 2017 "Mumbo Jumbo" visual.
Whack first gained fame for her freestyling and battle rap skills in her native Philadelphia , but her 15-minute debut album, Whack World, skyrocketed her to viral acclaim. By blurring genre lines — most recently through her Rap?, Pop? and R&B? EPs —Whack is poised to remain at the forefront of hip-hop’s future and brings a fresh wave of variety and uniqueness to the female rap landscape.
Essence Entertainment Director Cori Murray, Missy Elliott, Janet Jackson, and producer Mona Scott-Young; Photo: Bennett Raglin/Getty Images
Janet Jackson, Rapsody & Leikeli47 Honor Missy Elliott At 2018 Essence Black Women In Music Ceremony
The four-time GRAMMY-winning rapper/producer is celebrated by a who's who of music at the ninth annual event
The musical stars were aligned as four-time GRAMMY winner Missy Elliott was honored at the 2018 Essence Black Women in Music celebration.
Presented in partnership with the Recording Academy, Essence honored Elliott with the Visionary Award during the ninth annual event, which celebrates Black women's extraordinary contributions to music.
Held at the Highline Ballroom in New York City, the evening was marked by stellar performances by Brooklyn-native Leikeli47 and GRAMMY-nominated rapper Rapsody. But the highlight of the night was a surprise appearance from five-time GRAMMY winner Janet Jackson, who presented Eliott with her award.
"Creativity is a beautiful thing," shared Jackson. "And when creativity flows so freely from a musical genius, all we can do is express gratitude. I am so grateful for Missy's beautiful soul."