MC Lyte says she created “Ruff Neck” as an “ode to the guys I grew up with”

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In May 1993, MC Lyte shook the hip-hop world with the release of her hit single “Ruff Neck.” 

And while she was surprised to be reminded of the track’s 30th anniversary this year, the legendary rapper had no problem sharing with ABC Audio how the iconic song came to be.  

“I wanted to do an ode to the guys that I grew up with, the guys in my neighborhood, the guys that I went to school with,” she said.

Lyte detailed her experience recording the song in a Virginia studio at a time when “record labels just let you do what you wanted to.

“There were lots of people in the studio … lots of guys in the studio, musicians, writers. It was a great vibe to be in a space like that,” she recalled.

She became good friends with one of those guys, Wreckx-n-Effect‘s Aquil Davidson, who she says assisted in the creative process by encouraging her to think hard about what she was interested in rapping about. 

Lyte says hers was one of only two American families on her childhood block in Brooklyn because “everybody was from somewhere else.

“I got to have just a Caribbean culture and vernacular,” she explained.

And Lyte wanted to honor that. And she wanted to honor the men who were part of the diverse backgrounds. 

“So for me to show some respect and love to the brothers that I grew up with is the whole explanation behind ‘Ruff Neck,'” she said. 

“Ruff Neck” went on to earn MC Lyte her second song on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart and her first top 10 on its Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart. It became certified Gold in November 1993.

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