by Peter Walsh / @goinginsquad
The birthplace of Michael Jordan. Heaven is a Playground. Lincoln High School. Chris Mullin. Bernard King. Fly Williams. Streetball legends and NBA stars. Success stories and cautionary tales… The list of Brooklyn’s impact on the game goes on and on and on.
When the calendar shows November 1, The Brooklyn (that’s right, Brooklyn) Nets will put all the hype, gentrification and Jay-Z hoopla on the backburner and finally hit the hardwood to partake in the city’s biggest game since ’73, beginning a new era of basketball in New York. Based on the history of the game, having an NBA team in Brooklyn seems long overdue and despite the natural fit, it all seems surreal.
It didn’t even seem possible. New York City has forever belonged to the Knicks and when the deal finally went through and construction began in ’10, the thought of a team in Brooklyn still seemed like a dream, especially with all the controversies, delays and doubt surrounding the building of the Barclays Center.
Fast forward to 2012: The building of the Barclays Center was completed, Hov rocked the place with an epic string of performances and everywhere you walk, people are rocking black and white Nets fitteds and t-shirts in anticipation of what will hopefully be a new winning tradition in New York. When the opening buzzer sounds and the Nets officially touch the court to kick off the regular season in front of a sold out crowd, everything will come full circle and the dreams of all Brooklynite hoop fans will finally become a reality.
For SLAM, the uniqueness of professional basketball in Brooklyn has provided us with an awesome opportunity to do something we’ve never done before. We could have gone the traditional route, brought on one of our many writers and given you a piece on the history of Brooklyn hoops and the Nets; but you’ll be able to read that rhetoric a thousand times over heading into the season. Instead, we’re celebrating by teaming up with our friend and renowned DJ Mick Boogie, adidas Originals and XXL Magazine to bring you Brooklyn Originals, a mixtape composed of all new, fresh content from an incredible array of Brooklyn MCs.
The full mix will drop October 31 and in preparation, SLAM will be bringing you interviews with some of the artists involved over the next few days.
Yesterday we had Maffew Ragazino, who also dropped “Got2 Love It” the single off of his upcoming EP White Gold and Brooklyn Originals. Friday, we had the super talented Nitty Scott, MC who gave us an in-depth Q+A.
Today, we have MC Lyte who also threw us her new brand new song “Dope Style” which will be featured on Brooklyn Originals.
#BrooklynOriginals Drops Wednesday.
SLAM: You’ve had an incredible career, what has been the key to your longevity and success?
MC Lyte: Oh goodness. Being able to create, if I was an artist that was built by someone else than at some point once they stop creating I would be stuck. But since I’m a creative person, it keeps me going. At times when it could have stopped I created on a different level, whether that’s voice over, acting or something of that nature and kept it moving. And the team of people that I work with, they believe in me almost more than I believe in myself in order to keep moving at the pace that we need to move at to keep the machine going.
SLAM: When you first started rapping and creating, did you expect to have such an impact on so many people and inspire so many others?
Lyte: I had no concept of what was going to happen or how it was going to happen. I just knew that I wanted to speak to people and it seemed like rappin’ was the best way to do it and garner the attention. But i had no idea how many people I would be able to touch throughout my career.
SLAM: What’s your current take on the hip-hop scene and what do you think of the music being put out now?
Lyte: I want more balance, I want to hear some more variety within it. It’s big business and giving people the opportunity to make money and put their family to work and be able to support many folks. Given one rapper, they’re probably supporting a dozen or more people, whether it’s managers, producers, family members, people on the road. It puts a lot of people to work and that’s important but it’s also meant to inspire. If we could have some more balance, I would be really happy but I’m cool with it.
SLAM: Community wise, how important is it to have a team in the borough of Brooklyn?
Lyte: That is outrageous, I never could’ve called this one (laughs). It’s awesome and I have a place two blocks away so I’m excited.
SLAM: So are you gonna be keeping up with them closely?
Lyte: Oh yeah, absolutely! We got BK representation, time to go!
SLAM: I was interviewing another artist and we were talking about how prideful the Brooklyn community is. Now that the Nets are there, Brooklyn has it’s own official flag to unite under. Do you think the Nets now put the stamp on Brooklyn pride?
Lyte: Yeah, yeah I think it gives us something to finally be a part of something national. Given the fact that we are everywhere, no matter where you go, you say Brooklyn and somebody’s shouting. It feels now that we’re competing on a national level in the NBA, that’s great. I’m very proud to be from Brooklyn and I’m certainly going to be there to root for the Nets.
SLAM: How did growing up in Brooklyn shape not only your music but you as a person as well?
Lyte: Being from Brooklyn, we kind of get up and go. I always explain the difference between Brooklyn girls and Queens girls–Brooklyn girls, we just wake up and we’re out of the house, Queens girls, they gotta do their nails and hair and get everything all right and tight. In Brooklyn, we don’t have time for that because we’re moving so fast.
I think a large part of my musical sensibility comes from Brooklyn because I listened to a great deal of reggae. Because I was one of two American families on my block, I learned to respect the Caribbean culture and love the hard working and dedicated people that they are. Be it Jamaicans, Trinidadians, Bahemians, Haitians, you name it, it was a melting pot and it gave me the opportunity to soak up that culture. If there was ever a reason to be raised in Brooklyn that would be it, I wouldn’t trade that for the world.
SLAM: How did you link up with Mick Boogie? What’s your history with him?
Lyte: He Dee-jayed and I hosted an event at the Essence Music Festival or NBA All-Star Weekend but we played at the same event and that’s where I met him. We exchanged numbers and have stayed in touch. He’s a great guy and I love his spirit. He’s a lover of music, we can just start right there.
SLAM: You have so many other things going on outside of music whether it be foundations, giving out scholarships, raising money for others. Was music a way for you to reach out and give back to others?
Lyte: Absolutely. My whole gain is to inspire and teach the generation I was a part of that drugs aren’t the way, that was the initial reason for entry into the game or for even wanting to be heard. Once I got there, I thought, okay, I need to give the people something to hold onto and once I started speaking that, I had to live that. To be able to give away scholarships fits right in line in my mission from the get go in terms of getting an education and how it’s so important and opens up your world to options and choices. And if you don’t want that option taken away, then you best get as much of an education as you possibly can.
SLAM: What makes you a Brooklyn Original?
Lyte: Oh man, you’d probably have to ask everybody else that. I tend to think that I think differently on a lot of levels be it spiritually, metaphysically, astrologically, I’m a new wave thinker. Combined with the time and era that I entered the game that is now deemed the “Golden Era”, coming from that generation and understanding what the generations prior to myself had done in order for me to stand on their shoulders, I’m aware, I’m respectful but I’m also humble; but I’m certain and I’m sure but I’m still an open sponge to learn, there’s a whole lot of variables that make me different.
I don’t claim to be different than anyone else, I just claim to be different, period. Just as you are different than anyone else is, it’s about honing in and really living up to those differences and making them shine. Yeah, that’s what makes me an original.