Rap star MC Lyte breezed into Baltimore yesterday with her hip-hop anti-drugs and increased responsibility message, which she gave to crowds of cheering young people.
"How's everybody doing," she asked a group of stunned elementary school students who let out a collective gasp when they saw her. "Is everybody chillin'?" she said.
Students at Matthew A. Henson Elementary School clapped wildly at the star they have seen on MTV. "I hear her songs all the time," said 10-year-old Sherita Harris. "She's just fantastic."
The New York-born rapper was squired around Baltimore in a white limousine, which also took her to Frederick Douglass High School and the Baltimore Urban League headquarters in Mondawmin Mall.
Ronald A. Mills, who directs an anti-drug Urban League youth program, arranged for the visit. "We sought out MC Lyte as a speaker because of her positive youthful image and message," he said.
Dressed casually in pants, jacket and a baseball hat, she was greeted with screaming enthusiasm at each of the stops.
MC Lyte's first single was released in 1988 and was followed by two albums. Her third album, "Act Like You Know," is due out in the fall.
Only at the urging of the crowd did she rap a few lines.
She spent most of the time holding a low-key rap --as in talk -- session with the youths. "Saying no to drugs isn't enough," she told the students at Matthew Henson. "You have got to not be associated with anyone who sells drugs or takes drugs."
At Douglass, she urged the students to take personal responsibility for their actions. "The government is not even worried about us," she said. "It's time that we realize that and take responsibility for ourselves. It's up to us. We can make a difference."
At the Baltimore Urban League, young people talked about how different things are today from when their parents were growing up.
Ms. Lyte, who at age 21 is just a few years older than the teens she talked to, could relate. "Things have gotten worse," she said. "And it's going to get even worse."
Ms. Lyte wondered aloud if her positive messages are getting through to youths. She showed her latest video message of anti-drugs and anti-teen pregnancy. "Sometimes I get discouraged when I do songs like this and they don't get as popular as [others]," she said. "I'm just trying to get the message out."
Maybe she was preaching to the converted. LaTonya Townsend, 12, who was at the Urban League meeting, said her peers do look up to rap stars. MC Lyte, she said, is one of her favorites. "I love everything that she makes," she gushed.