September 09, 1996 12:00 PM

MC Lyte

In a recent Essence magazine interview, MC Lyte declared herself eager to be a good role model. While once it was “cool to curse to prove you were the baddest,” she mused, “now I feel responsible for what comes out of my mouth.” But apparently, the rapper also feels that the old way is sometimes best: Five syllables into her fifth disc, she’s already dropping a four-letter word.

Thankfully, Lyte pretty much cleans up her act as the album progresses. With her tomboy manner and salty tone—she sounds mildly annoyed even when she’s putting the moves on a cutie in “One on One”—she doesn’t need to resort to bleepable braggadocio to convince listeners that she really is bad as she wants to be, which seems to be her main lyrical motive here.

Lyte’s producers complement her stone-cold sobriety with booming backing that is less sparse and more melodic than on her previous efforts. In fact, “TRG (The Rap Game)” and “Keep On, Keepin’ On,” already a Top 10 single, are so ridiculously snappy that you half expect the 26-year-old rapper to finally drop her guard and burst into song. (EastWest/EEG)

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