Curtis Gaines III, Features Editor
With women’s history month nearing its conclusion, many women in hip hop struggle with being celebrated for their contributions to the genre. When it comes to a female rapper, it seems like there is only room for one “queen of rap”.
The competitiveness for the top spot oftentimes leads to the lack of collaboration between female rappers. At the same time, conflicted fans feel like they have to choose a side between their favorite rappers further dividing progression for women in hip hop.
For a female rapper in a male dominated genre, it could be a difficult task finding mainstream attention. Sure, you get rappers like Nicki Minaj and Cardi B that have maintained success on the Billboard charts by balancing their femininity and sexuality with their various skills on the microphone.
But for every Megan Thee Stallion, that recieves mainstream praise for her skills on the mic as well as being a sex symbol, there is a Lekeli47 that is just as talented, but will not achieve the same attention for their skills. This is due to them focusing more on the art form of rap than displaying their sex appeal. One rapper that falls into that category is Rapsody.
On August 23, 2019, Rapsody released her album, “Eve”. What makes this album noteworthy from the North Carlonian signed to Roc Nation is that every song on the 16 track album is dedicated to other women that have inspired Rapsody. By paying respect and showing solidarity with the women that came before her, like Nina Simone in “Nina” and Maya Angelou in “Maya”, Rapsody bridges hip hop with women’s history.
The album also has features from prominent women in hip hop like, the aforementioned Lekeli47 on “Oprah” and Queen Latifah on “Hatshepsut”, who was the first female pharaoh of Egypt. By bridging the gap for female rappers, both past and present, Rapsody is doing her part to prove that collaboration often leads to both artists bringing the best out of each other.
With women’s suffrage movement approaching its 100 year anniversary, which gave them the right to vote, Rapsody echoes that support as a rapper in the music industry.
A standout track from the album is “Cleo”. The song is named after Queen Latifah’s character in the film “Set it Off”, who was notorious for her “take no prisoners” attitude. Featuring a sample from Phil Collins’, “In the Air Tonight” heard throughout the track, Rapsody expresses her frustration and struggles that comes from being an outlier in the music industry.
A notable line in the song comes around the 1:11 mark when Rapsody says “ Be careful the validations y’all seek…I been in those offices, they don’t look like you and me”. By showing the disconnect between a record label and a black woman in hip hop, Rapsody is speaking on behalf of rappers that have often been overlooked historically.
My favorite song from the album is “Iman” featuring SiR & J.I.D. The song is named after the iconic supermodel that was once quoted as “broadening the definition of beauty” by the Washington Post. Growing up in Somali, Iman was famous in the 1970’s for being the muse for designers like Calvin Klein, Donna Karan and Gianni Versace. Besides her slender frame, what made her stand out was her darker skin complexion as well as her strong exotic accent.
In the song, the trio pays respect to the various shapes and complexions of black women that are often disrespected by mainstream media. By shattering the stereotype of a female rapper having to wear revealing clothing to be considered beautiful, Rapsody is able to showcase her beauty through her outspokenness and social awareness.
Singer, SiR, comes in smoothly on the chorus of the track when he sings on the track, “dark skinned and them brown eyes and that ooh…shine before the sun rise, love so hard to come by”. For women that have a darker skin complexion, the song serves as a reminder that being black is still considered beautiful.
Regarded as one of the biggest snubs during this year’s Grammy season, “Eve” will be remembered as a classic rap album from the perspective of one of the most talented rappers in the genre, who just happens to be a woman.
Although it lacked the attention that it deserves upon its release, history will hopefully preserve the excellence of this album, serving as a footnote for the evolution of women in the rap game.