MC Lyte's Eyes On This Album Is Rough & Tough | Review
How Classic? 4 / 6
Released: October 3, 1989
MC Lyte was a very highly regarded female MC during the 80s & 90s. She was known for her great sense of humor, highly recognizable voice and ample amounts of skill. While Eyes On This features well-known producers such as Pee MD (EPMD), Grand Puba (Brand Nubian), Marley Marl (Juice Crew), King of Chill and Audio Two. Although that list is fairly impressive, it’s, unfortunately, the quality of production (not beats) which hampered MC Lyte’s early career. The beats on are not bad, they’re just too uneven quality wise, both sonically and conceptually. MC Lyte herself does a great job nonetheless on almost every track, despite the dips in audio quality she tries her best.
Eyes On This’ opening track “Cha Cha Cha” samples The Fearless Four’s classic “Rockin’ It” from 1982. This could have been a stunning track had they kept the sample going throughout the song like Jay-Z did on “Sunshine”. The second track on Eyes On This, “Slave 2 The Rhythm”, is produced by Pee MD (from EPMD) and is really solid track with a very cool feel. MC Lyte comes hard on this one, even dropping some “F” bombs along the way. The third track on Eyes On This is about a trip to grab a “Cappucino” gone wrong, meeting all kinds of thugs and drug dealers on the way. She even gives a dope description during the last verse which would’ve worked really well in a commercial. Overall this is another example of a great anti-drug song from the golden age of hip-hop, back when artists had a conscious and cared about their image.
The fourth track on Eyes On This, “Stop, Look, Listen”, has a nice laid back beat by King Of Chill, and Lyte drops some smooth bars over the groove. The next track “Throwin’ Words at U” sounds like an attempt at making a West Coast sounding track, but it ends up sounding messy, unlike Dr. Dre’s clean sonics. The sixth track, “Not wit’ a Dealer”, MC Lyte drops some serious rhymes about the stupidity of dating drug dealers. A far cry from today’s drug dealer worshipping songs.
“Survival of the Fittest” is a mediocre track, at least production-wise, but MC Lyte’s voice makes it a decent listen. Now we get to one of the highlights on the album, “Shut the Eff Up! (Hoe)”, which features a nifty beat by Audio Two. It’s both original and catchy, and MC Lyte voice really shines over the sparseness of the sonics. Unfortunately, it could have been much more had Lyte rapped about another topic (this song disses her nemesis Antionette). Overall the song is great and the sample of the “Cordova” bassline by the Meters is brilliant.
“I’m The Lyte” is uptempo and fun and has a “popping” sound courtesy of Grand Puba Maxwell. Lyrical MC Lyte continues in battle and this track could also have been more with a change of topic, but she still does a great job in this style. Next track, “Rhyme Hangover”, samples a soul, “if there’s a cure for this”, and has a funky bassline. The eleventh track, “Funky Song”, is uptempo, but the overall sound is a bit scratchy and repetitive.
The last song on Eyes On This (the actual last track is an instrumental), “Please Understand”, features a funny dialogue between a man and a woman, “I just want you to understand” to which the man replies, “understand what?”.The beat is fairly simple but works in this storytelling setting. The last track, “K-Rocks Housin” is an uptempo DJ set style number, complete with scratches and B-Boy rhythms. It’s a great ending to a solid album and an example of pure hip hop culture.
MC Lyte was an outstanding female MC with a great voice and personality. Unfortunately, she lacked the quality of production of some of the other golden age MCs. However, this quality of production wasn’t uncommon during the late 80s. Take for example Ice-T’s Power, which suffered from this same issue. Overall Eyes On This is a fine example of golden age hip hop.