My first dance choreography was to an MC Lyte song
Homage to the 50th anniversary of hip-hop: One of two interviews that unnerved me
Anyone who knows me well would not be surprised about how much I enjoy doing choreography routines. Before I quit Corporate America, I used to prioritize my lunch hours and meetings around a WERQ dance class in the lobby gym. I once took break dancing classes (I was terrible) and hip-hop dance classes at Discovery Center Chicago, along with hip-hop dance classes at Bally Total Fitness (before LA Fitness bought them). I have done every single choreo routine from Kukuwa Fitness. Even in college, I spent hours practicing for my starring role as Mya in “Case of the Ex.” (We won second place.)
But my very first choreography teacher was my older brother. My summer day camp decided to throw a talent competition, and I wanted to be in it. I picked my favorite emcee (femcee): MC Lyte. For the life of me, I don’t know why I had her 1989 album and didn’t pick more popular songs like “Cha Cha Cha” or “Cappuccino.” I’m fairly certain I would’ve been disqualified for blasting “Shut the Eff Up (Hoe)!” so no mystery there. Instead, I decided I wanted to dance to “Stop, Look, Listen.”
My brother, who generally lives by the motto “less is more,” gave me three moves.
One hand out like a crossing guard to “stop.”
Position my hand to my forehead, “look” left and then “look” right.
Cup my hand around my ear to “listen.”
And this would’ve been fairly cute choreography, but I couldn’t think of anything else to do for the entire rest of the song. So I just did the Running Man. Clearly, that gets a wee bit repetitive for a three-minute, 16-second song, but you couldn’t tell me a damn thing ‘cause it was MC Lyte and I wanted to represent for my favorite artist.
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To no one’s surprise, I didn’t win. But I had a good time doing that routine and further confirming how much I both love to dance and have zero issues performing in front of big crowds. And although other femcees (primarily Missy Elliott, Queen Latifah, Eve, Da Brat, Rah Digga, Rhapsody, Lauryn Hill, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes) have been on my music playlist from cassette tape recordings to Napster to Spotify, it never really occurred to me that I’d get to interview any of them — or even humor the idea.
But during my time as an entertainment journalist, I reached out to Lyte (for obvious reasons) thinking there was no way she would respond. Before the week was out, she not only responded but gave me a phone number to call — and answered in her well-known voice. My jaw dropped. How was I supposed to interview her when my heart was beating this fast? I briefly thought about canceling the whole interview and hanging up. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve ever been nervous about anything, but I was speechless from the minute she said “Hi, how are you?”