NOW STREAM THIS! MC Lyte's "Ice Cream Dream"
By Stereo Williams
NOW STREAM THIS! is a look at a classic track that fans may have forgotten how much they love. This is an introduction for some, a reminder for others; a chance to point everyone to an underrated banger from a legendary act, and to get those streams up.
In the summer and early fall of 1992, two prominent movie soundtracks were all over urban radio. One was the blockbuster L.A. and Babyface-helmed soundtrack for Boomerang, the Reginald Hudlin-directed Eddie Murphy rom-com hit. The other was the Mo' Money original motion picture soundtrack; which featured production from hitmakers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. An action/comedy vehicle for Damon Wayans (and the movie debut of his younger brother Marlon) Mo' Money wasn't a hit movie on par with Boomerang, and the soundtrack didn't scale the pop culture heights that Boomerang's would. But the Mo' Money soundtrack was a platinum-seller, and it's one of the 1990s best. Boasting a lineup that includes Johnny Gill, Big Daddy Kane, Public Enemy, Ralph Tresvant and Mint Condition, it's a high point for the latter days of new jack swing.
And now that the Mo' Money soundtrack is officially on Spotify and other streaming services, it's a great time to revisit this stellar collection of tunes from Jam & Lewis, which includes what might be the most underrated single in MC Lyte's catalog.
"Ice Cream Dream" is the Brooklyn rhymer's contribution to the soundtrack and it reveals how well the R&B-centric Jam & Lewis could meld with an established Hip-Hop artist. Having released her third album the year prior, MC Lyte was already dabbling in new jack waters; that album (Act Like You Know) featured singles like "When In Love" and "Poor Georgie," the slickest of Lyte's career up to that point. Now paired with Janet Jackson's producers, she sounded right at home on a track that wouldn't feel out of place in Jackson's oeuvre.
Lyte would eventually collaborate with Janet Jackson. The pop diva would tap Lyte as the opening act on her janet. Tour in late 1993; and Lyte would guest on Janet's "You Want This" single and video in 1994. But despite a very Janet-esque hook, "Ice Cream Dream" did not feature Ms. Jackson.
The vocalist on the track is Lisa Keith. Keith was a mainstay on Flyte Tyme Productions; having been prominently showcased on Herb Alpert's Jam & Lewis-produced 1987 hit "Making Love In the Rain." Keith would go on to work with duo consistently, providing backing vocals on albums by Karyn White, New Edition, Ralph Tresvant, and Janet Jackson. Keith also co-wrote N.E.'s single "Crucial" and "Why Should I Cry" by Nona Hendryx.
So it was Keith who provided the Janet-esque hook for "Ice Cream Dream." The song would be featured early on the Mo' Money soundtrack tracklisting, its title a reference to a children's book Damon Wayans' character uses to flirt with the object of his affections, posh account executive Amber (Stacey Dash). The song was released as the soundtrack's fourth single in the fall of 1992, peaking at No. 11 on the Hot Rap Songs chart in January 1993.
While it wasn't a huge hit for MC Lyte, it showed that her new jack swing forays were no fluke, and when paired with truly talented producers, Lyte could deliver R&B-friendly singles as well as anyone. She would go in a more hardcore direction with Ain't No Other (and it's ubiquitous lead single "Ruffneck") just a year later, before settling into even slicker fare circa 1996. But in 1992, she landed a winner with Jimmy and Terry. What better time to give it a listen?