Rapsody Reacts To Grammy Nomination & Confirms Guest On Next Album (Video Interview)
Last night, Rapsody and 9th Wonder performed at the second annual J Dilla Weekend in Miami, Florida. During Rap’s set, her friend and collaborator Jay Electronica took the stage to publicly crown her “the best female lyricist since Lauryn Hill,” and bestow her with his chain.
Moments later, the Jamla Records, Grammy-nominated MC reacted in a video interview with Ambrosia For Heads. “All I know is I was on stage, heard the claps get louder, and I knew somebody was behind me. And it’s Jay [Electronica]. He gave me the chain, and blessed me with that. He’s one of the best people I ever met.” In 2013, the pair worked together on “Jedi Code” (along with Phonte) from the heralded She Got Game.
Rapsody, whose career took off years following J Dilla’s 2006 death, spoke about the privilege of honoring one of Hip-Hop’s greatest producers, and a Grammy nominee in his own right (for A Tribe Called Quest’s Beats, Rhymes & Life and The Love Movement). “It’s dope that they would ask me to be part of this special group to celebrate someone whose [work] changed so many lives—to be a part of that [is amazing]. It’s a good weekend, it’s for the culture, it’s for [J] Dilla, it’s all love.” Just minutes after her own stage show, the MC professed, “Everybody is having fun. It’s just good to celebrate his life and be here with Ma Dukes. Whatever she needs…people come and support her. Everybody has her back.”
Rapsody was asked if she has ever recorded her verses to tracks produced by James Yancey. “I’ve definitely freestyled to a lot [of J Dilla tracks]. I can’t say I have any recorded, but I’m one to [take] the laptop into the bathroom while taking a shower, and just put beats on and go. Yeah, I ride to a lot of Dilla beats too.”
Earlier this week, Billboard published a conversation between Rapsody and one of Hip-Hop’s pioneer MCs, especially for women: MC Lyte. Asked about how the discussion came about, Rap’ explained, “That was my first time having a conversation with her; I’d met [MC] Lyte once, and that was about two or three years ago. Billboard reached out and said, ‘We have this idea: we want to do an interview. We want it to just be you and Lyte.’ I was happy to do it. I told [Adelle Platton], the lady that interviewed us, I haven’t had a chance to sit down and have a conversation with her, and ask her some of the things that I’ve wanted to. So it was dope to get her perspective on comradery with females in the ’90s. [Then] I tell my side on how much it’s changed. You wouldn’t think there’s comradery, at all.” Notably, Lyte was the first female Rap soloist to ever receive a Grammy nomination, thanks to 1993’s “Ruffneck.” Rapsody continued, “Just to get those perspectives and stories, how females [experienced the industry] then to how it is now. I had so much more I wanted to ask.”
Rapsody said she first met Lyte in 2013, the same evening she would meet Lauryn Hill. The “Rock Like A Girl” event was part of Black Girls Rock!, a BET-televised celebration of Black female entertainers, founded by DJ Beverly Bond. “I did Black Girls Rock! for the first time in 2013. It was Lauryn Hill, MC Lyte, Jean Grae, Ana Tijoux, and then myself. Originally, my manager reached out ’cause he heard it was comin’ to [Washington] D.C. He was like, ‘I’ma reach out and see if I can get you on.’ It was like, ‘Yeah, we’d love to have her.’ So I took that spot, and opened up.” That event would be one year after Rap’s critically-acclaimed debut album, The Idea Of Beautiful. “To be on a show with three of the people that influenced me the most—especially we’re talking about women in Hip-Hop. The only one that was really missing was Queen Latifah, that had a huge influence [on me]. I met MC Lyte and Lauryn Hill in the same night.”
With the 58th Grammy Awards just over one week away, Rapsody discussed how own nomination, courtesy of “Complexion (A Zulu Love)” from Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly. “It feels great, man. [Laughs] I’m trying to think of the perfect adjective, but I don’t think there is one to describe it. To know where I started, and just to look back at the whole process and to see that it happened like this, it’s hard to put it in words,” she said. “It probably still hasn’t hit me yet until I get on the [Grammy red] carpet and walk. It’s really dope.” Although she alluded that she will attend, Rapsody learned of the nomination when the list published online. “I wasn’t surprised. Because regardless if I was there or not, I expected [To Pimp A Butterfly] to be nominated for a Grammy. I would have been upset—more so than for him not winning [any awards in 2014] for good kid, m.A.A.d city if he had not been nominated. He got nominated 11 times—he deserves it; the album is phenomenal.”
Collaborating with Kendrick, photographed with Dr. Dre, Rapsody is also in the circle of Aftermath’s newest addition: Anderson .Paak. “He’s one of my favorite people on this earth to work with. He might be at the top of my list,” she said, having appeared on Malibu‘s “Without You.” “When we get in the studio, it’s natural and fun. He was on tour with Earl Sweatshirt. Before [Dr. Dre’s] Compton dropped, that’s the thing I remember: tweeting him that ‘Yeah, I like your music.'” The hype around Dr. Dre’s third solo album did make Rapsody take notice. “When the Compton tracklist came out, the people I didn’t know their music, I’ll search [online] and go listen to their music. His just stood out to me. Then, when the album came out and I heard ‘Animals,’ I was just like, ‘My God.’ He came through. We went to see him. We got on the tour bus and just talked, got to know each other. It was just easy. They had the day off in Raleigh. So that night in the studio, we probably did like two songs. Then he came back the next day and we did two more. It was just real easy. We put on a beat—[Khrysis] got a beat, 9th [Wonder] got a beat, he didn’t write it, it just comes to him. To see that natural energy just come out, it’s all about the feeling in the moment. It’s just great energy. There’s no over-thinking, no talking about business—it’s all about the music. He’s super talented, so I feed off the energy. Outside of Jay [Electronica] and Kendrick [Lamar], he’s another good person that has a good heart.”
In closing, Rapsody was asked about the status of her sophomore studio album. “This year—soon, before summer,” she confirmed of the follow-up to The Idea Of Beautiful. “We’re almost done, so before summer. I can say that. One feature I’ll [reveal] is Anderson. He’s on it–a couple times, at least. [Laughs]”
Day two of the second annual J Dilla Weekend takes place tonight (February 6).