Rapsody, GZA & D’Angelo Revisit Liquid Swords On A 9th Wonder Produced Song

UPDATE: The same day as Rapsody releases “IBTIHAJ,” she and GZA drop the video. Mary J. Blige and Roxanne Shanté (who is shouted out in the lyrics) appear, with clear visual connections to this song’s title and inspiration, described below:

ORIGINAL STORY: Following 2017’s Grammy-nomination run with Laila’s Wisdom, Rapsody is moving into her next album campaign. In late June, the Snow Hill, North Carolina MC revealed her plans through a cryptic video, that very briefly flashed the word “Eve” in addition to footage of great Black women across arts and culture, ranging from Beyoncé and Aretha Franklin to Lauryn Hill and Queen Latifah. Days later, the Jamla Records/Roc Nation artist confirmed to Essence‘s Sydney Scott that Eve is an album, planned for August.

Heads get their first taste today (August 2), and it’s another nod to iconic 1990s Hip-Hop. Rapsody enlists GZA and D’Angelo for “IBTIHAJ.” The collaboration, produced by 9th Wonder, honors The Genius’ 1995 breakout “Liquid Swords” from the LP of the same name.

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After letting the momentum build (and D’Angelo doing a rendition of the original chorus), Rap’ spits, “When the MCs came to live out their name / Inscribed in the halls and the walls of fame / Balancing life, wrote both the yin and yang / Hands buried the man and they raised the son to reign / That’s a play on words, they say herb ain’t all the same / Slaves in prison and they some unchained / While everybody in my gang a star, DJ Preem’ / Screaming through the sun roof, ‘money still ain’t a thang’ / While I’m spending small bank, asking ‘where is my change?’ / Carpool with the homies, saving gas in my tank / I think like a billionaire, I spend less than I make / Strong minded, I should bench way more than my weight / Women been leading the way, since Roxanne Shanté / And the Unit had Flavor, and Jay had Marcy neighbors that waved.” In her verse (that keeps GZA’s opening line), Rapsody addresses maintaining core values through her success and fame. Throughout, she nods to Hip-Hop giants including Queen Latifah, the First Lady of the Juice Crew, DJ Premier, The Lady Of Rage, Wu-Tang Clan, and her Roc Nation honcho, JAY-Z.

GZA, who has been especially reserved in releasing music lately, raps about keeping his product and profile scarce. “When I’m so off the radar, it’s very hard to find me / In space, a selfie, with the Earth behind me / You follow the leader, the track is off the meter / A lot of Rap is weak, low frequency in the tweeters / Very inaudible, clock radio speakers / Quietly whispering is a world of WikiLeak-ers / Forget the gaudiness my method is nauseant / Transferring ideas into the brains of the audience / The street poet gave this special art form a global reach / I earned your ear, then your heart by giving the local speech / Weaving wonder with words as potent as a sorcery / Not witchcraft, but a list of terms in the glossary / Well-written rap, bound to have a great impact / On a listener for the fact it’s well intact / An MC should electrify, beautify, strive to / Empower, inspire, transform a world view,” spits the Brooklyn giant.

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As if GZA’s appearance were not rare enough, D’Angelo accents the homage with his multi-tracked vocal. 9th Wonder freaks the same sample RZA used, but does so differently. He lets another jewel in the record play into this beat.

Notably, the title references Ibtihaj Muhammad, the 2016 USA Olympic fencer. She was the first American to wear a hijab while competing on the historic and global stage. Winning the bronze, Muhammad became the first-ever Muslim-American woman to earn a medal. Given the June video, and May’s “Phylicia” (with Phylicia Rashad as its artwork), Rapsody may be titling her Eve tracks after her inspirations. Laila’s Wisdom had its aspects of concept, as Rap’ explained to AFH TV.

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There are several Rapsody interviews available at AFH TV. We are currently offering free 7-day subscriptions.

#BonusBeat: The 1995 “Liquid Swords” by GZA: