With her third studio album “Eve,” Grammy nominated lyricist Rapsody created a masterpiece that pays homage to women of color.
“Forever First Lady” Michelle Obama, Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad and St. Louis’ own Maya Angelou are among those canonized with the body of work the rap goddess released through Roc Nation this August.
The 15 tracks are named in tribute of woman throughout history for their varying contributions to black culture. “Oprah,” “Serena,” “Whoopi,” and “Sojourner” are just a few.
“It was a way too for me to continue their legacy,” Rapsody said. “People will hear the song and see the name and try to understand how they connect. And if they don’t know the name, then they will go research them.”
Based on the reception from critics and hip-hop community in general, “Eve” will most likely end up on a host of “Best of 2019” album lists.
“To have the love and the feedback I’m getting from it is something artists work their whole lifetime to have moments like this,” Rapsody said. “It gives me a moment to be grateful that I am able to create the way that I’m doing – and reminds me that I don’t have to compromise my art. I was able to keep fighting the good fight and stay in the marathon for so long to have this moment and not give up. It made me proud of my team and how far we’ve come.”
The Snow Hill, North Carolina native will be performing tracks from the critically acclaimed record when she comes to St. Louis on Saturday to play The Pageant with Big K.R.I.T. for his “From the South With Love” tour.
“It’s going to be a healing experience. It’s therapy. It’s a party,” Rapsody said of the upcoming performance. “You’re not going to want to stand there and you’re your phone up the whole time. It will be something that we can do as a community to connect with each other – it’s a family reunion.
She hopes that they experience her music – “Eve” in particular – in a new way through her live show.
“I want people to go through all kinds of emotions,” said Rapsody. “I want them to feel empowered. I want them to feel happy. I want them to feel excited and energized. I want to bring the album to life and for us to have an intimate moment together where we really get to talk with each other and immerse ourselves in the music.”
The idea to make “Eve” as a whole concept piece came out of an interview she did about the genealogy and family tree of North Carolina musicians. When the interviewer connected Rapsody with Nina Simone and Roberta Flack, he sparked the idea for “Eve.”
“I just kept thinking about it and thinking about it,” Rapsody said. “The first song was about being a tomboy and I named it ‘Aaliyah.’ That’s when it all clicked. I love music. I love hip hop. I have women that I look up to in hip-hop like Lauryn (Hill) and (MC) Lyte and (Queen) Latifah.
I was like, ‘man, let me just carry on this idea and show that I am an extension of a bunch of amazing, phenomenal black women that I’m inspired by – let me do songs about how they make me feel and how I’ve incorporated their inspiration into my own life.”
Thanks to “Eve,” Rapsody was able to connect musically with one of her personal “sheroes” – pioneering hip-hop legend and entertainment Renaissance woman Queen Latifah. She is featured on the track “Hatshepsut,” named after the second female pharaoh in Egyptian history.
“I worked with so many people – legends, newcomers and peers and that was my favorite without a doubt,” said Rapsody.
Before they made music, they got to know each other.
“She was very open. We laughed. We joked. She told me stories,” Rapsody said. “And when I played the music, she gave me honest feedback and really great advice that helped make the album even better. She invited me to her house. She made me feel like family and feel comfortable. It’s something that I’ve longed for since I was a kid. This is somebody that I grew up looking up to and tried to honor in the way that I could, so it was a really special moment.”
Rapsody considers the opportunity to be to another young woman who loves hip-hop what Latifah and her other influences were to her a blessed full-circle opportunity.
“It’s something that I don’t take for granted – and that I’m happy I’m able to be here because balance is important and representation does matter,” Rapsody said. “I’m happy to be able to be another example of what a woman in hip-hop can look like. To be able to represent for the girl next door – the tom girl, the lyrical girl in a space with so many other different and talented women and be able to be myself.
She is now representing for the little girl who looked like the seven-year-old Rapsody who watched MC Lyte and Queen Latifah and felt there was a place for her in hip-hop.
“It feels good to be a part of that bigger picture – it’s something I can’t even put into words,” Rapsody said. “We are all enough and we have so much to give – and each of us have to give all that we have, because God gave us all something special.”
Three albums in and counting, Rapsody does not take her opportunity to rise through the ranks of rap and capture the world’s attention lightly.
‘To do what I’ve done coming from where I came from, a very small town in North Carolina, population 2000, where a lot of us don’t look outside of our 8-mile radius,” Rapsody said. “That was the biggest thing – not just in my town or in North Carolina, but to show people in all the small towns that our wildest dreams are possible.”
Rapsody will be performing at The Pageant on Saturday, October 19th at 8 p.m. (7 p.m. doors) as part of Big K.R.I.T.’s “From the South With Love Tour.” For tickets or additional information, visit www.thepageant.com or call (314) 726-6161.