The thing that first brought MC Lyte to Los Angeles? New York’s historic Blizzard of 1996.
“I always said I wasn’t going to do another winter in New York, but then when that snowstorm happened I was like, ‘Oh my God. I gotta get out of here,’” the Brooklyn native recalls.
The hip-hop legend — the first Grammy-nominated female rapper — also had her sights set on pursuing an acting and voice-over career in Hollywood. She’s since hosted several awards shows and starred in TV shows and films like “Girls Trip,” “S.W.A.T.” and “New York Undercover.”
She still visits her beloved hometown on a regular basis, but says “L.A. to me is an easier way of life and it also allows me to be a little bit more introspective” and enjoy the outdoors.
This year has been a particularly celebratory — and busy — one for MC Lyte as she’s been celebrating the 50th anniversary of hip-hop music. In August, MC Lyte was featured in the Netflix series “Ladies First: A Story of Women in Hip-Hop,” on which she is also an executive producer. The four-part documentary, which was produced by Culture House Media, explores the often overlooked role that women have, and still play, in the genre.
“What it means to me is everything because I’m always trying to a shine the light on newcomers as well as those who have been around for a long time,” says MC Lyte, who also celebrated the 35th birthday of her debut album, “Lyte as a Rock,” this year.
On the Sundays when MC Lyte hasn’t been traveling all weekend, she likes to pick up a cortado from one of her favorite coffee shops, go on a bike ride and listen to reggae music at the beach. Here, she takes us along on her perfect Sunday in L.A.
This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for length and clarity.
7 a.m.: Rise early and pick up a cortado
On the perfect Sunday, I’m probably waking up at 7 a.m. I like to get out before the sun really makes its move because it reminds me of home. I love the feeling of being out before everyone else is or being up at least. I’d visit a coffee shop called Games N Grounds, which I really love. It’s also a game store, so you can play all different types of games. They sell board games and all sorts of card games, and things of that nature. I love the community feel of that place, so I usually go there, get a cortado or a latte if I’m feeling really frisky with the extra milk. I’d probably take my drink to go and go for a drive.
9 a.m.: Hop on a bike at the beach and explore, then get tacos
I’d drive to Santa Monica beach and rent a bike, then go past Venice to Marina Del Rey. There’s a cute little Mexican spot there called Cabo Cantina that I like to get tacos and chill out there for a minute. I also like to get chips and fresh guacamole. I love the chicken and steak fajita. I’m a combo fajita girl with corn tortillas — I try to stick with if I can and then maybe a margarita. I’m a great people watcher when people are not watching me [laughs].
2 p.m.: Post up at the beach and listen to reggae
Then I’d probably get on my bike and go through a couple of streets and look at the homes because I love architecture and design. Then I may call up a friend. It depends on whether I feel like talking or listening, and if I’m not in that mood, I’ll just take a seat right there on the beach or on a bench and watch the sun go down.
If it’s my perfect Sunday though and it’s an imaginary world, I would put a reggae band down there at the beach. Reggae music definitely takes me back home to being much younger and surrounded by so much culture. It also reminds me of just being on an island, which is always relaxing to me. It was probably one of the first genres that I became acquainted with outside of my home. You know you spend all these years being influenced by the music that your parents listened to or your older family listens to, and then finally, you get to break out and say “I like this. I want to listen to this” and that was reggae for me. So it represents independence. It represents a flow, laid back, easiness [and] laying all your cares down.
6 p.m.: Dinner at Cafe Gratitude
With a ride like that, I’d probably end it off with some more food. If I’m down in that Venice/Marina Del Rey area, I might go to Cafe Gratitude in Venice. They have so many good things on the menu. The cauliflower there, I really, really love and they have so many bowls that I get into. I like the “I Am Loving” bowl.
7 p.m. Relax at Rafi Lounge (and return rental bike)
After that, I might visit my friend Rafi’s place — it’s called Rafi Lounge. It’s on PCH, across from Nobu and the Soho House. It’s just a really chill place to be. Great vibe. Usually they have some type of programming, whether it’s a band or meditation. It’s something easy so that I don’t really have to jump into the Sunday traffic to get back home.
8:30 p.m. Drive home to some oldies and take a bubble bath
I have a lot approaching on Monday, so I’d probably ride back home to some Isley [Brothers] — the best of — or Earth, Wind and Fire, something that kind of connects me to home, family and safety. Then maybe take a bubble bath and get into bed. On an ideal Sunday, I’d like to be in bed by 9:30 p.m.