It's been about a year since we've heard any new Rapsody. Last year Ms. Evans dropped her critically acclaimed (including BITM's first 5 tape review) mixtape, She Got Game. Last week she blessed the hip hop nation with her second EP, Beauty And The Beast.
Rap has a few mottos that represent her essence as an emcee, but the two that stand out to me are "better not basic" and "culture over everything". While she embodies both at all times, I feel that the former is the foundation for this EP. Many songs on this project make remarks that Rapsody acknowledges her choices as to what emcee she wants to be. The eternal struggle of all emcees (but especially the "young" artists) is the conflict of choosing commercial/mainstream success vs staying true to the art form. Songs like Who I Am reflect her awareness, "But they said the music that I'm making ain't paying, many dollars..think money make you, you ill advised..so make music like this so you don't forget and always remember and recognize who you are". Rap knows she is capable of making the easy radio single but elects to make songs that she is proud of.
The 9th Wonder produced track Hard to Choose further elaborates on this issue, "Hard to choose culture over fame/Cause you just want to be set and take care of all you fam/It don't make you but it be cool to have money like Wayne..Chose to build this slow ain't no need, no hurrying." Rapsody wants to make "rapping" her nine to five. And of course like many jobs there are ways to make it up the ladder much faster, and those ways normally mean making sacrifices. But Rap has made the conscious effort to take her time and "do it right", so to speak. She is lyrically capable of going the route of other female emcees and make club bangers and sell sex with every turn. Instead Rap has said that she takes her position as a role model to young black girls seriously, "Loyal to all but when I look at these black girls faces/I understand why I chose to be better not basic/So it's not hard to choose/So excuse if I don't care if hipsters relate..Why it's hard to choose being real or being fake huh".
Rapsody's success is of course in direct correlation to her skill as an emcee and her genuine love of the culture, but all great players need a great coach. And while Rap is a huge Kobe fan, I hope she doesn't take offense when I say she is the Kawhi Leonard of hip hop. Which of course makes 9th Wonder the Popovich of the game. Like the Spurs, Jamla is full of all stars but is never given their dues. They are not flashy, they don't boast huge pay days, but they are respected by those who know the game. Rap is "new" to the game so she can't be part of the Spurs big three. But like Kawhi she is under the mainstream radar but def on the radar of true hip hop heads (or bball heads in Leonards case). And before this metaphor gets outta hand (if it hasn't already), I'll go back to Rap. Beauty And The Beast is another perfect blend of inspirational and raw lyrics. Her metaphors and overall writing have never been sharper. The way she conceptualizes her tracks is flawless, from beginning to end this EP is a true gem. And if this review isn't enough to spark your interest, peep the single Drama. So once you do that and then cop the EP, I will just say you're welcome.