MC Lyte

Da Undaground Heat, Vol. 1

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Four and a half years after parting ways with EastWest (a subsidiary of major label Warner) in the wake of the commercial disappointment of her last album, Seven & Seven, MC Lyte, at the advanced age of 31, attempts a comeback with Da Undaground Heat, Vol. 1. Pacting with the production team Maad Phunk!, she benefits from contemporary-sounding beats and gimmicks. But her own rap approach remains determinedly old school. She is still relentlessly self-congratulatory, praising and mythologizing herself in a style reminiscent of her 1980s origins. An obnoxious, repetitive bit finds her listening to answering-machine messages from various peers delivering eulogies to her. The best and most unusual track is "Boy Like That," which uses a sample of the song by the same name from West Side Story. But for the most part, Da Undaground Heat, Vol. 1, for all its claims to be an update and return to form, is a throwback from an artist unable to keep up with the fast-moving trends in hip-hop.

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