Rapsody is a rapper’s rapper. The North Carolina native has received tons of praise from critics and peers, worked with big names like Kendrick Lamar, and cites Jay Z, Lauryn Hill, and Mos Def as her influences.
The Roc Nation signee, who recently released Crown, a mixtape that features collaborations with Anderson .Paak and Ab-Soul, stopped by ESSENCE talk about storytelling in hip hop, women working together in the industry, and the post-election sound of music.
Fans of Rapsody know that the rapper raps with a message, each song makes a statement and in our post-election world she’s exactly the type of artist we need. "I definitely it's the responsibility of the artist to speak and have our voice be heard,’’ say Rapsody, real name Marlanna Evans, "There should be a balance too.
That's not to say we shouldn't have fun, there should be fun songs too to take your mind off. I think there's a balance similar to what Tupac did, he had fun but he also came back with songs with a message. As artists we have so much influence on the world, not just here, but the world, especially hip hop.”
The rapper added artist’s should have fun, but make sure that those listening know it’s cool to be smart and aware of the things going on around them and in the world. While the country seems to be moving backwards, the music industry is slowly making progress in how it views and treats women, but there’s still some work to be done, specifically when it comes to women being pitted against one another.
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The rapper rattles off a list of women who’ve shown love and support, adding, "There's still a lot of 'there can only be one' it still feels like. But no, it doesn't have to be like that. Everybody has their own style, their own lane and we can all exist together,” she says, listing names like Missy Elliot, Salt-N-Peppa, Queen Latifah, and Lauryn Hill as women who’ve supported other women in the industry. “You don't see a lot of female rappers jumping on songs together anymore. I've tried that before, tried to reach out…it wasn't easy, but I think it's getting better.”
Rapsody’s sound is also distinct, but familiar. You know her music when you hear it and there are recognizable storytelling elements. While Rapsody’s sound reminds some of a blend of Kendrick Lamar and Lauryn Hill, the way she tells stories is similar to that of another North Carolina favorite. J. Cole.
"I always felt like the sound of North Carolina was a melting post,” she says when asked about how artists from the state often have a distinct sound. "We're a city in the middle of the east coast, so we had a lot of influence from New York and Atlanta, surrounded by HBCUs.
We're a car culture place, so the music that we make you have to ride in your car to. There's a lot of churches so there's that too. It's a mixture, a melting pot for me.” She also goes on to name musical influences like Biggie, Outkast, Tina Turner, Luther Vandross, “and tons of Soul,” as what she listened to growing up. Crown is a mixture of many things; musical influences, storytelling, life, relationships, and an appreciation of black culture and it’s something we’re looking forward to more of as the rapper plans to drop more music in the new year.
"My album will be out next year, definitely want to keep the ball rolling,” Rapsody says, adding that there are still people she wants to work with and stuff she still has to do, "I never stop recording."