Culture Over Everything. Not really a philosophy that drives this new wave of ‘female pop mc’s, with the term ‘MC’ used extremely loosely. Ever since the disappearing act of Ms Hill, we have had a number of sheep (in wolf’s clothing) trying to assume the evolution of the female rap artist. Fortunately, there are some that know that in order to be the future, you have to be based on the past, respect and appreciation of it is a must.
Signed to 9th Wonder’s music imprint ‘It’s A Wonderful World Music Group’, Rapsody is one of those rare female mc’s previously described. Three mixtapes into the game, Rapsody has established herself as a feared underground MC, gaining respect from the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Jean Grae, Talib Kweli, Erykah Badu and Big K.R.I.T (to name a few..), as well as touring with Mac Miller.
The Cypher decided to get a deeper and more personal look into the career of Rapsody, getting together her thoughts on the rap game, female emcees and her future.
The Cypher: You have a number of mixtapes under your belt. Is it now difficult to figure a direction for the album, or ascertain which tracks are album worthy?
Rapsody: “No, it doesn’t at all. I’ve been doing songs for the album here and there throughout the year. What helps me figure what songs are album worthy are the beats. I want the beats to be a lot bigger for the album.”
Being under the wing of 9th Wonder must have been pretty overwhelming at first, we can imagine him being an amazing influence. How exactly did it all begin?
“I met him while I was in college. Myself and my Kooley High band mates started a hip hop organization on campus. He came by to speak to us. I played him the first two songs I ever wrote or recorded. He said I had a lot of potential and took me under his wing. In 2008, I signed to Jamla records and the rest is the future.”
(Having worked with 9th Wonder) Is there any one that you’ve yet to work with that you would love to?
Producer wise? Yes, most definitely. I can’t wait to work with DJ Premier, and Pete Rock. As well as Hi-Tek.”
We love the fact that you started out with spoken word before moving into hip hop. How do you feel his compares to the more mainstream artists like Nicki Minaj who have come from an acting background ?
“I don’t think it has much to do with why our styles are so different or anything. Mos Def has an acting background, and a spoken word background. Im sure acting really helped them both as a entertainers. She’s a great performer. For me personally, starting out with poetry helped with my play on words, and how to arrange them. Jay-Z didn’t have to do spoken word to be the best at what he does. It’s just more of what you’re into. What you like to do. She has a passion to act. I have a love for poetry. That’s just what it is.”
Where do you think the culture of hip hop is heading? We’ve seen braggadocio rhymes taken to another level with Watch the Throne, and Emo-Rap come to the forefront with Drake…
“I hope there is more balance on a mainstream level. There is room for it all in Hip Hop. I enjoy good music not matter what style of Hip Hop it is. Whether its “emo”, braggadocio, or “gangsta”. I do know for certain that Hip Hop in academia is expanding, and before long will be studied at Universities like they study Jazz, etc.”
In Lampin’, you rap ‘parents on your back, they don’t really understand rap’. Did you have a difficult time justifying this as a career to them? Are they supportive of your efforts now ?
“It definitely was an idea they had to get used to. They’ve always been supportive. But, they know how hard it is to break into the music industry. No parents wants to see there child struggle. And, being from North Carolina, it’s not common to know someone who made it successfully in the arts. It’s far from the “big city where dreams are made”. But, they have come around a lot. I guess they saw there was no stopping me. I was in it to win it. lol. So, they support me whole heartedly. ”
One thing we were quietly hoping was for a collaboration with Kendrick Lamar. Rock The Bells is a dream come true, how did the link up come about and what attracted you to working with him?
“Kendrick was in North Carolina performing at NCCU in Durham. 9th called him and invited him to the studio. He came and listened to some jams we had recorded for “For Everything” and said he would bless me. Thats how it went down in a nut shell. I’m a fan of Kendrick Lamar. He is incredible! A legend in the making. He makes incredible music and his flow and lyrics are crazy dope. I’m honoured to have him on the project.”
What was running through your mind when you first heard the beat for ‘Lampin’? We are absolutely in love this ! Its a personal favourite off ‘Thank H.E.R Now’.
“I was floored. I think I immediately asked Eric G when he played “man,whos beat is that?”. When he said no one had it, I jumped on it so fast! I HAD to have it. It just gave me a warm feeling. It made me feel thesame way I felt when I first saw the intro to Brown Sugar. It was beautiful. It was Hip Hop. Eric G is amazing!! His future is so bright! The world will know him, and every other producer in The Soul Council (Khrysis, Amp, E. Jones, Ka$h and Fatin) soon enough!”
You have a feature with UK London bred artist Estelle. Are there any artists from the UK that are a regular listen? any of those you would love to work with ?
“I definitely listen to a lot of Estelle. She makes incredible music. Her latest releases, Break My Heart and Thank You are my jams! Im excited for her next project! I would love to know who some other dope UK artist are,too.”