Rapsody Explains Why Overnight Success Is A Myth & Only The Grind Is Real (Video)
During a recent Breakfast Club interview, host Charlamagne Tha God asked Rapsody to explain one of her Laila’s Wisdom lyrics: “People enjoy the car more than the drive.” Near the 24:00 mark, Rap’ unpacked the line and spoke about the disconnect some have between aspiring for success and being both patient and disciplined. “You look at these people, and they have all this fame, all these accolades, but people don’t understand it took them 10 years to get there,” she told hosts Charlamagne, DJ Envy, and Angela Yee. She references a JAY-Z quote from a recent Rap Radar interview where her Roc Nation honcho asked, “People emulate the end result, not the process…Are you willing to practice your whole life?”
Rapsody looked within her peer group. “You see Kendrick Lamar doing what he’s doing; he’s been grinding for 10 years. When I came into this, I’m thinking about when I was younger, I was like: ‘Oh, I can put out one dope mixtape and bang, it’ll all hit.’ It never happens like that.”
Rap’ recalled how long-term mentor and Jamla Records owner/producer, 9th Wonder set her straight early on, telling her, “You’re not going to see this thing ’til seven to 10 years.” 9th and Rap’ met more than a decade ago. However, the Grammy-winning producer/DJ took a closer interest around 2010. It was around that point that the North Carolina MC became a focal point within the burgeoning Jamla.
“We went through a bunch of artists, Kendrick [Lamar]: seven, eight [years] – right on time,” she illustrated, now a product of that same timetable. Rap’ noted: “That’s what separates the ones who are successful, not all the time talent, but patience, being able to stick with it, falling down seven times and getting up eight.”
In the interview with Charlamagne, Envy, and Yee, Rapsody started out by sharing that Laila’s Wisdom is named after her mother’s mom (aka “Big Momma”), who raised 14 children. The MC also adds that she is one of 150 grandchildren. Rap’ also offered up her definition of power, women in Rap; how Lauryn Hill and JAY-Z are her favorite MCs, and the importance of setting the line.
Elsewhere in the interview (13:00), Rapsody defines power. It is the name of her recent single, where she shares duties with Kendrick Lamar. “Power to me for one is knowing who you are,” the North Carolina MC said. “First you got to know yourself before you know what to do with your own power. You got to love yourself. Respect our power as women to bring life into this world.” She added that some people might confuse money for power, or end up focusing on the negative that chips away at their potential. Others might find power in God. “Power comes in different forms…People like to say that women are emotional, but that’s also powerful. I can connect with something on a whole other level that men can’t. That’s power to me, just recognizing your own power.”
Rapsody has openly stood against the term “femcee” in Rap and Hip-Hop, for the way it implies second-class status for women who rhyme. Rap’ added in the interview how it was weird how so many seemed to believe that there can only be one successful woman rapper at any one time. “I don’t know what happened,” Rapsody said. “Because it didn’t start like that. We had MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, Missy [Elliott] and Lauryn [Hill], Lil’ Kim and Foxy [Brown].” Things started to change, after Lauryn in the late ‘90s, early 2000s, she said, “it became this thing, there can only be one.” And yet, as Rap’ had said a few minutes before the current scene is filled with talented women, as she name-checked or alluded to Nicki Minaj, Cardi B, Tink, and Remy Ma.
From day one, 9th Wonder has been central to the Rapsody story. “He’s been there since the jump,” she said. “He’s been there since I wrote my first two raps,” after encouraging her when she was still at college. Moreover, as her main supporter, he never made her do anything she didn’t want to do.
In the interview’s first 10 minutes, she recalled an early manager trying to “doll her up” for image purposes. The Little Brother co-founder was always different, she said. For him it was “always about the music [and] making me the best rapper he can make me.” Back in 2010, Delaware DJ/engineer Young Guru gave her sage advice about the importance of setting her professional boundaries, telling her: “Early on, define your line. [Identify the] things you don’t want to do, [and] how far you want to go.”
At one point in The Breakfast Club interview, Rapsody, a onetime hoop athlete, mentioned how Kobe Bryant was her favorite basketball player for this reason. “Not just the game but his work ethic,” she said, adding: “that’s the one thing that makes me a good MC, it’s because of my work ethic.”
Bonus Beat: AFH‘s Justin “The Company Man” Hunte’s recent TBD episode “Women In Rap Are Back,” features commentary from Rapsody, Rah Digga, and others