IT WAS ON THIS DATE, SEPTEMBER 12, 1990 MC LYTE RELEASED EYES ON THIS.

Eyes on This is the second studio album American hip hop recording artist MC Lyte.[1] It was released on October 3, 1989, via First Priority and Atlantic Records, and featured production from Audio Two, as well as Grand Puba, The King of Chill, Marley Marl and PMD.[2]

The album became the first by a female solo rapper to appear on the Billboard 200 (then called Billboard Top Pop Albums), on which it remained for 20 weeks, peaking No. 86 in November 1989.[3] It also peaking No. 6 on the Billboard Top Black Albums, the MC Lyte’s highest position on this chart, as well as her first and only top 10 appearance.[4]

The lead single Cha Cha Cha reached No. 35 on the Billboard Hot Black Singles[5] and spent 19 weeks on the Billboard Hot Rap Singles, peaking at No. 1. Later, Stop, Look, Listen and Cappucino would become top 10 in the Hot Rap Singles (in No. 9 and No. 8, respectively).[6]

As on their debut album, most of the songs are produced by Audio Two and King of Chill, although they now incorporate Marley Marl, EPMD’s PMD, and Brand Nubian’s Grand Puba on some specific tracks.[2]

The album addresses some social issues such as violence around drugs and addictions (“Cappucino”, “Not wit’ a Dealer”)[2][7] and machismo (“Please Understand”).[8] Regarding the content of Please Understand, Lyte told Deborah Gregory in an Essence profile “I’ve never let a man dog me and I never will, It’s just not gonna happen!”.[8] The track “Survival of the Fittest” is a remix by King of Chill along with Audio Two of the original included on the compilation album The First Priority Music Family: Basement Flavor (1988).

The diss track to Antoinette “Shut the Eff Up! (Hoe)”, which was originally the b-side of the single Lyte as a Rock, was included on the album.[9]The diss track to Antoinette “Shut the Eff Up! (Hoe)”, which was originally the b-side of the single Lyte as a Rock, was included on the album.[10] On the track “Slave 2 the Rhythm” she would say “It took a whole album for you to try and diss me/And ha-ha-ha, slum bitch, you still missed me/But yo, I’m off the dissin tip, cause that takes no creation” and would add “‘Gangstress’, don’t make me laugh” in reference to Antoinette’s nickname.[11]

“Shut the Eff Up! (Hoe)” was later sampled on TLC’s Hat 2 da Back, The Lox’s “Goin’ Be Some Shit” and Common’s “Orange Pineapple Juice”. “Slave 2 the Rhythm” was sampled by Naughty by Nature on “Strike a Nerve” and by electropunk group Mindless Self Indulgence on “Tornado”.

The cover photo, taken by Robert Manella, shows Lyte with her DJ K-Rock with two Porsche Carrera ’89. This was taken at pier 6 of Brooklyn Bridge Park, with the World Trade Center complex of buildings visible behind them.

In his “Consumer Guide” column in The Village Voice, critic Robert Christgau commented “backtalk like a pro, sometimes like an original –the rhythmic obscenities on the spectacularly unsisterly “Shut the Eff Up! (Hoe)” are mind-boggling. Her tales of the drug wars are tough and prowoman, and the narrative tone of “Cappucino”–part fable, part metaphor, part confessional revery, part dumb it-was-only-a-dream–is avant-garde. Elsewhere she’s a pro.” He also highlighted a better production compared to his debut album.[14]Rolling Stone magazine described the album as a “slamming, street-smart” endeavor.[8] People’s Michael Small considered MC Lyte on the album “maintained her reputation as an insult-hurling tough talker who rapped to hard, simple beats”.[15] For his part, Jon Pareles of The New York Times would write in his review of the album “Most of the songs continue to brag and sling insults, a gambit that can wear thin in the course of an album” although he highlighted the presence of songs like Please Understand, Not Wit ‘a Dealer and Cappuccino “Even so, MC Lyte still has her ears to the street.”[1] John Leland reviewed for Spin magazine “(…) the new album is unrelentingly on, making a hard virtue of its simplicity and crudeness. In a genre that shows little patience for the vicissitudes of growing up, Lyte hangs onto her youth, battling more as a tomboy than a sexual warrior, all the while slipping into a childless world of drug dealers and casual murders.”[16]

RetrospectEdit

In 1999, Ego Trip’s editors ranked the album No. 17 in their list Hip Hop’s 40 Greatest Album by Year 1989 in Ego Trip’s Book of Rap Lists.[17]

Alex Henderson of AllMusic commented that the album “tends to be one-dimensional lyrically — she spends too much time bragging about how superior her rapping skills are and how inept sucker MCs are. Though it’s hard not to admire the technique and strong chops she displays on such boasting fare as “Shut the Eff Up! (Hoe)” and “Slave 2 the Rhythm,” she’s at her best when telling some type of meaningful story.” He also considered “Cappucino” the most outstanding song on the album “Were everything on the album in a class with “Cappuccino,” it would have been an outstanding album instead of simply a good one.”[2]

In October 2019, on the 30th anniversary of its publication, it was reviewed by Jesse Ducker of Albumism, who commented “Eyes On This showcases Lyte’s tenacity and increased confidence as an artist. Her lyrical abilities continued to improve, as she sounded even more confident . With the determination of a bulldog, she attacks each track, showing no mercy towards those who dare step to her.” He would also comment on his later albums “Though Eyes On This was a success for Lyte, it was her last album where she mostly focused on emcee shit.”[18]

In November 2019 HipHopDX commented on the album “The original femme fatale turned heads and reloaded her arsenal on her sophomore album with a sharp wit, thick-as-molasses funky production and inspired a generation of female rappers including her fellow Brooklynites Lil Kim, Foxy Brown, and contemporaries such as Nicki Minaj and Rapsody.”[19]

In September 2020 it was reviewed by Sha Be Allah of The Source, who considered the album a “classic”, described it as “Lyte’s introduction into stardom” and highlighting songs like “Cappucino,” “Cha Cha Cha,” and “Shut The Eff Up (Hoe)!”[20]

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