MC Lyte‘s classic lyrics from “2 Young 4 What” have sparked an intense debate about double standards in Hip Hop.
The conversation most recently popped up on the latest episode of The Culture Report, which dropped on Wednesday (December 27). There, host Ray Daniels brought up “2 Young 4 What,” which was released in 1991, when Lyte was just 21 years old.
“I gotta ask: why are we not up in arms about the MC Lyte line?,” he asked in reference to the portion of the song in which she raps: “It may sound nasty and it may sound mean, But I’m into little boys that are about seventeen/ I don’t know why, but they put up a fight/ And hot damn that excites the MC Lyte.”
Asked what he believes would serve as appropriate repercussions for Lyte’s 30-plus year old lyrics, Daniels drew comparison to the sexual assault charges levied against high profile men like Russell Simmons years after the alleged actions took place.
“I want the same thing everyone else has gotten,” he answered, referencing Bill Cosby in particular. “I want the same anger, and the same vigor, and the same grooming, that they’re talkin’ about…I want the same anger for this!”
Check out the clip from the podcast below.
Some commenters were quick to defend the legendary MC. “Nah. It’s ridiculous, it was a different time then,” wrote Rob Markman. “You gotta ask yourself who is Lyte as a person? And who was ultimately hurt by that? Because if we start diggin into old rap lyrics it’s gonna get ugly for everyone.”
“MC Lyte was a teenager herself when she wrote those lyrics,” wrote another commenter.
Still, others were quick to point out that there was, in fact, a double standard, and that boys aren’t as protected as girls from sexual assault.
“Becuz culturally we don’t protect our sons. Period,” wrote one passionate commenter, in particular. “Protecting them makes them ‘soft’ And the last thing we want as a community is a man that is considered soft or emotional or emotionally in tuned in anyway. The only emotion we’re allowed is rage.”
The commenter continued: “We lokey encourage them being exposed to hurt, pain, violence ect. We’ve been conditioned to believe that that makes them tough and that makes them a man. So Sexual abuse from a woman isn’t seen as abuse but as a come up for him. I rite of passage. A badge of honor even. So even today in the black community, no one cares about teenage boys 14, 15, 16, being molested by women 12, 20, or 30 years older than them. It’s something to brag about.. in our community.”
Despite the controversy, MC Lyte has continued making headlines for speaking up for women in Hip Hop.
The “Ice Cream Dream” rapper spoke to Hip Hop Wired ahead of the I AM Woman event at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., over the summer. The second annual event, which celebrates women in Hip Hop, had the history maker reflecting on what the culture would look like without female influences.
“The importance of the 50th is that it started 50 years ago, and it’s still going,” she said. “So everybody’s participation is important whether it started it or helped to maintain it, or helped to propel it into other areas. I’m excited to be a part of anything that has lasted 50 years. Everybody has their own relationship with Hip-Hop – it’s almost like a person. We do know that it has inspired all of us in one way or another.”
She continued: “It feels invigorating. It feels like there’s room and space. I feel like we’re at a crossroads. It feels like the importance of where and when you entered Hip Hop doesn’t matter. We all contributed. Period.”