I grew up on the flows of Jay-Z, Tupac, Big L, Queen Latifah and Biggie. I still crave that raw, unparalleled talent and lyrical craftmanship. The 80’s and 90’s was a league of hip-hop that only the elite could participate in. However, with this generation’s social media frenzies and viral certainties new “emcees” pop up every five minutes but do they stick around? Do they create music that will stand the test of time? Will it even last into next week? In most cases, no. However, North Carolina native artist and Roc Nation’s own Rapsody, could go toe to toe with the heavy weights of hip-hop, no question and she cultivates music that will be revered now and forever. Her third studio album ‘Eve’ released in August of this year, laced in 16 tracks with features from Leikeli47, D’Angelo, Queen Latifah and more amid production from 9th Wonder, Eric G, Nottz and Khrysis. This is an album dedicated to black women, for black women, about black women but it’s also an album that can be appreciated by all, respected by all. Let’s be honest, most female rappers today are just as naked as their inane lyrics. But Rapsody brings real hip-hop to her music, real bars, real production, real content and it’s that fact that divorces her sound from the modern horde. This iconic album follows her sophomore release ‘Laila’s Wisdom’ which was nominated for ‘Best Rap Album’ at the 2017 Grammy’s. She lost to her comrade Kendrick Lamar but for her album to be nominated is a monumental stride for females in hip-hop. It makes me feel like this generation is beginning to crave real hip-hop instead of the auto-tune soaked, mumble-rap connoisseurs. In this year’s Grammy nominations, however, her album didn’t surface and that my friends is a gross miscarriage of hip-hop justice but real fans of her music will bump this album regardless of its awards or worldwide acclaim. We need artists like Rapsody to keep the pulse of hip-hop alive. Other present-day hip-hop cohorts like Dave East, Nino Man, Chika and Meek Mill give rap music life as well but there aren’t enough women creating gritty, poetic bars. They are out there but they are not as celebrated as their bum-shaking counterparts. In “Nina” she raps, “Emit light rap, or emit Till / I drew a line without showing my body, that's a skill.” It’s not to discredit the females that enjoy rapping about their bodies and their salacious acts because that’s one realm of hip-hop, Rapsody is the other.
With Eve being noted as the genesis of all women, there’s no better title for this album. Furthermore, the track list clearly pays homage to legendary females as well, hence song titles like “Aaliyah,” “Oprah” and “Sojourner” to name a few. She’s strategic in how she releases music, how she titles it and how it’s intended to be consumed. It’s not a first-listen album because it takes several listens to grasps her scripted complexities. Rapsody is the product of what practicing a craft for years can flourish into. For example, in “Nina” she raps, “Henry Louis Gates when I cop me some new estate (cop) /Make room for myself, I'm in a way different mental place / I keep it real, all y'all look anime / I'm fine like Anna Mae /Black don't crack like Angela /Black and brave like in the A / It don't come with apologies /Let's just tip in some Andre
When you greet me it's "Namaste" /Spread love the Brooklyn way or like marmalade.” Those are the type of bars that make you turn your face up in admirable disgust. “Nina” opens the album and intentionally so. It sets the tone for what to expect from her third full-length body of work. As the album proceeds its evident that every track on this album is intentional. Iconic collaborations like “Ibtihaj” featuring D’Angelo and “Hatshepsut” featuring the trailblazing Queen Latifah, mark as monumental additions to hip-hop’s archives. While fan favorites like “Afeni” featuring Tupac revel in her intrepidness as she flows in between Tupac’s classic lines, “Now since we all came from a woman /Got our names from a woman and our game from a woman / I wonder why we take from our women /Why we rape our women Do we hate our women?” Furthermore, of course the song is titled after Tupac’s mother Afeni Shakur – genius.
Rapsody solidifies her rising position in music greatness and it’s not because she’s “good for a female rapper,” but because she’s superb on any front. Hip-hop is typically viewed as a male’s sport but MVP’s like Rapsody are proving that any sex can dominate this genre of music. Who’s really rapping like Rapsody right now – nobody. She’s a student of hip-hop yet an even better teacher. When’s the last time you learned something from a hip-hop album, felt empowered by a hip-hop album? It’s not a project that’s over-saturated in club bangers and poppycock verses but an album doused in poetic offerings. In “Reyna’s Interlude,” spoken word artist Reyna Biddy speaks, “Black women, you are a threat on every point of the map / You are love, in its purest form, all unapologetic, all unconditional / Always too compassionate, sometimes too forgiving /But, never too afraid to show up…” Calling upon greats like Biddy is no accident. Rapsody blankets this album in substance, legendary throwback tendencies and positivity amid deconstructing myriad clichés surrounding the damaging ideologies of masculinity in music. ‘Eve’ is one of the most necessary albums of 2019 not only for it’s clear, compelling ode to Black Women but for its visceral lyricism and authentic hip-hop delivery. Rapsody is hip-hop in its finest hour, the quintessence of its original roots, the epitome of hip-hop excellence.