Blue Note Jazz Festival – Napa

Rapsody

Appearing Saturday, July 29


In the saturated market of music and entertainment, consumers live with a constant craving for outliers and one-of-ones. In the sphere of hip-hop, Rapsody is that outlier.

The Jamla/Roc Nation artist has spent the better part of the present decade lapping peers and counterparts while mesmerizing fans whom still prefer their rhymes detailed and nutritious. The Snow Hill, North Carolina native has more than held her own alongside greats like Kendrick Lamar, Black Thought and the late Mac Miller (in 2011, she toured with Miller on his Incredibly Dope Tour). She has been broadcasted and hailed by media giants––from NPR to USA Today to TIME Magazine to BET (2013’s Hip Hop Cypher) to NBC (The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, 2015). In 2014, XXL named her one of the 20 Greatest Female Rappers of All Time. The following year, Dr. Dre crowned her his “favorite female emcee.” In 2018, The Netflix/Mass Appeal 8 part documentary series, RAPSURE Rapsody is featured as the only female artist and role model in Episode 6. She toured with Big K.R.I.T. in 2019 and hit the road in 2020 for a tour to support her latest album Eve. The North Carolina native called the tour “A Black Woman Created This” continuing the theme of her sophomore LP of Black women empowerment. All of her hard work paid off as BET recognized her as the “Lyricist of the Year” at the 2020 Hip Hop Awards. Later in 2020, she was featured in Stevie Wonder’s song “Can’t Put It In The Hands of Fate”. Rapsody is currently one the hosts for Revolt’s show “Off Top” alongside Tiger. This 4x Grammy Award winner is also active in philanthropy and plays an important role with social justice and social empowerment.

The one-of-one is Rapsody’s latest album EVE. Named after the Bible’s original woman, the summer release is dedicated to the celebration and empowerment of brown sistas worldwide. Each song is titled after a legendary black female. From the beautifully jazzy “MAYA” to the melanin- affirming “IMAN” to a summertime breezy “MICHELLE,” Rapsody’s latest–– produced primarily by 9th Wonder and Eric G of the Soul Council production team and featuring giant guests like J Cole, D’Angelo, Queen Latifah and GZA, to name a few––is a collector’s item in a current climate of disposable compositions.

The lead single “Ibtihaj” introduces the succeeding 16 tracks (including an interlude) and their historic theme. Rapsody’s pen accomplishes much as she weaves the story of the first black, Muslim woman to get an Olympic medal for fencing in the Rio 2016 games. The incomparable features of The GZA and D’Angelio make the track swing “it’s been a long time coming since we had someone swarming with the bees (Killah) the bird and the Killah bees.”

The follow-up track of “AFENI,” in the form of separate love letters to black men and women, smells award-winning. 9th Wonder’s sonic bed is made with the Deniece Williams classic “Free,” Tupac’s “Dear Mama” a capella and decorated by the golden vocals of New Orleans crooner PJ Morton. On “OPRAH,” Rapsody ensures that the girl party is as fun as it is inspiring. Over a stream of buoyant baselines, she and masked sparkler Leikeli47 spit with the freedom of ocean water. “It ain’t uncommon to borrow a dollar/Invite me over to eat with your mama/I like them checks with the commas on commas.”

EVE is Rapsody’s third studio album, succeeding her 2012 debut The Idea of Beautiful and 2017’s Laila’s Wisdom, named after her grandmother, which featured a constellation of guests (Kendrick Lamar, Anderson Paak, Busta Rhymes, Musiq Soulchild, etc) and launched the spitter into a rap star. It was nominated for both a Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song GRAMMY. The groundwork laid prior to Laila’s Wisdom included her outstanding verse on Paak’s 9th Wonder-produced “Without U” (off of his beloved major label debut, Malibu) and her first GRAMMY nomination for her exceptional performance on Kendrick’s sophomore standout To Pimp A Butterfly. Rapsody would later earn an invitation from President Barack Obama and Herbie Hancock to perform at the International Jazz Fest with Aretha Franklin, Robert Glasper, Terrace Martin and Terri Lyne Carrington in honor of the late great Prince. With her finest work ready for release, the Carolinian’s horizon forecasts more triumph, success, and, most importantly, little brown girls around the world who will love themselves more. They will have Rapsody to thank.