Rapsody’s Eve Is 1 Of The Year’s Best Albums In Any Category
In terms of receipts from paying dues, Rapsody possesses suitcases full of them. Her career dates back to an inconspicuous debut on 9th Wonder’s Dream Merchant 2 interludes a dozen years ago. That look came after years of studying under the famed producer, long before she ever touched one of his beats for public consumption. Ever since, Marlanna Evans has treated the microphone like a proud baton: receiving it from legendary Rap athletes including JAY-Z, Dr. Dre, DJ Premier, Talib Kweli, Black Thought, and Diamond D.
Throughout the last decade, Rap’ has carried that baton in the marathon with a smile. Like her pen, the MC’s focus only sharpened for The Idea Of Beautiful, Laila’s Wisdom, and a plethora of projects and peer collaborations in between. During it all, the Snow Hill, North Carolina product kept pace without ever compromising quality or substance.
Rapsody’s latest effort, Eve, is an exclamation point in that journey. This respected artist rises to seamlessly meet the times with 16 songs that put Black women on a pedestal through the LP’s theme, title, and grand Hip-Hop style. With longtime Soul Council production team collaborators 9th Wonder, Nottz, Eric G, and Khrysis, Rapsody releases the most dignified album of 2019. From legislation to sports, women are taking it to the streets to demand equality in rights, paychecks, and respect. Rap’ merges a celebration of womanhood with a love of Hip-Hop to do the same. This LP puts the other, other F-word—one that draws a meaningless distinction between men and women MCs—to bed where it belongs. Out of the conceptual demonstration emerges a role-model, a creative visionary, and one of the top MCs in the game.
Each track on Eve honors a real-life woman by her first name. The moments veer between Egypt’s first female pharaoh, “Hatshepsut” to “Afeni,” Tupac’s activist mother. Other songs nod to Queen Latifah (also a standout album guest) “Cleo” courtesy of Set It Off, while “Tyra” salutes the supermodel-turned-host. These figures represent a spectrum of inspirations, from racially-oppressed artist “Nina” to heartbreak through a common activist cause in “Myrlie.” Rapsody informs as she entertains, using these titles to apply relevant themes to history. Every song is not restricted to its namesake, as the “Whoopi” connection is simply the MC warning her critics not to “make a ‘sister act’ out.” While history books and high school curriculum can often downplay the accomplishments of women, Rap’ wants fans to learn some new names and embrace critical figures.
Recognized as one of Hip-Hop’s most likable and widely-embraced spitters, Rapsody furrows her brow on “Cleo.” 9th Wonder adds additional drums to a Phil Collins classic that resemble one’s heartbeat when challenged by haters and critics. Rapsody leaves modesty in the on-deck circle as she wonders “how a bunch of sheep can have opinions on the goat.” The song is a triumphant clap-back at naysayers, over-lookers, and even the sexists. Beyond opponents, Rap’ rallies against the convention that sexuality always supersedes skills in Rap.
Moreover, the MC calls for unity and respect on “Hatshepsut.” Featuring a welcomed Rap verse by Queen Latifah, the song defies the norms. It honors pioneering Black women in music at the same time scoffing at the notion that only one woman can be in the Rap conversation at a time. The Jamla Records MC is smarter than the industry discourse, and Eve is filled with examples of how the archaic conversations need to evolve. Not just sexism, Rapsody trolls the status quo on “Sojourner,” which was included in last year’s Jamla Is The Squad II. “Lookin’ at the ads, they only love us if our ass out / And so I’m out, I got an Audi, and it’s bad / I said that line ’cause ni**as only respect you if you brag / It don’t work on me the same, don’t give a f*ck ’bout what you have.” Rapsody sees the flaws in the current scene, and she’s standing as the change.
However, Eve follows the same guiding light as 2010’s Return Of The B-Girl. Rapsody is living her dream. Lead single “Ibtihaj” honors GZA’s “Liquid Swords” 25 years later, with dignity and grace. Beyond a sample, Rap’ and 9th sought out The Genius, to deliver a rare and poignant verse on a song that also involves D’Angelo. The resulting video single’s concept is lofty, referential, and the kind of thing you can do on this level only when it’s completed earned. Beyond 16-bar verses and clever wordplay, Rapsody treats her voice like an instrument that only she controls. Peer-collaborators including Kendrick and J. Cole have taken liberties with their deliveries. From “Ibtihaj” to the Elle Varner-assisted loose jam “Michelle,” that is also the case with Rap’. She is a master of ceremonies, who can shape-shift her party as desired. It provides a dynamic artist with range and unpredictability.
Eve is filled with concepts while proudly standing void of all gimmicks. The one-hour listen is rich without feeling weighty, thoughtful without feeling cerebral. First, she was the MC in the corner waiting for her turn. Then, she was the artist that many fans were rooting for with every development. Now, Rapsody is leading culture, driving change, and raising her own high bar of excellence. Her days of paying dues are over. 2019 is about giving this patient MC all of her just due, post haste.
There are several video interviews with Rapody available at AFH TV. We are currently offering free 7-day trials.