At the top of the year, if you googled “female rappers expected to take over 2020,” you would have seen the name “Rapsody” firmly on the list. For the past couple of years, if you were having a conversation about the women of rap with depth and lyricism, you couldn’t avoid Rapsody, and not a thing has changed.
Born Marlanna Evans in Snow Hill, North Carolina, Rapsody made a name for herself early on with her sharp, incisive lyrics. As a female MC, she navigates the industry with poise and confidence, much like the phenomenal women who walked before her. As an artist, she chooses her heart and highlights her intellect to voice powerful bars against soulful sounds. An inspiration, she paves a way for young girls who look like her to believe in the spectrum of what it means to be not only a woman but a woman of rap.
“I ask myself that so many times,” she says with a laugh when asked what she wanted to leave as her legacy. “I just want to be somebody that gave to the culture; that made it easier for women to show up as themselves. I want to break through the box.”
A major milestone was her Grammy nomination for Rap Album of the Year as a female artist in a male-dominated industry. But even that is just scratching the surface of the record she’s keeping as she moves through the politics of music business. “Black women are running this right now,” she says.
“You can show up in music, and you don’t have to overthink it,” she says. “Whether it’s yourself saying, ‘All I see is this one type of woman, maybe that’s what I have to be.’ No. I want to be the example that you can dress a different way, you can talk a different way, you can walk a different way; just make sure to tell your story and that’s enough.”
Since 2014 she’s proved that point a million times over. Fast-forward to 2019, Rapsody toured alongside Big K.R.I.T. and released her third studio album in August. The album titled, Eve, features productions from her mentor 9th Wonder and verses from J. Cole and Queen Latifah, just to name a few. Eve bears the name of historic black women as she dedicated 16 tracks to the stories of heroes like Nina Simone, Afeni Shakur, Oprah Winfrey and Ibtihaj Muhammad. As a critically acclaimed lyricist, Rapsody put her principles, knowledge and her truth into creating an album that spoke volumes to her skill and natural-born talent.
“They are all parts of me, and that was one reason I wanted to do this,” she says referring to the
concept of Eve. “I wanted to show people that there are so many different parts of me.”
Narrowing it down to the songs that speak to her most, she lands on “Nina” and “Afeni.”
“I think they both fill the whole spectrum of what the album is about.” Quoting Nina Simone: “It is the artists’ job to tell the truth,” relating to their unwavering strength and commitment to expressing power as a Black woman.
“Those two resonate with me and who I am and who I want to be as an artist and what this album means to me.”
Eve then led to a 25-city headlining tour run under the moniker: A Black Woman Created This Tour, kicking off February 2020. The message behind the tour name speaks to her team; a black woman as her tour manager, videographer, head of merchandise further highlighting the efforts black women put in to create such magic each night.
“It just shows my community not only do I support it through music, but I try to make sure that
we have representation in the industry just not in front of the microphone but in all areas,” she says. “It’s just another way to celebrate through the music, my business and continue the story.”
The story unfolds with every tour stop, each collecting special memories that she details in an excited tone. Every night the audience has been filled with men and women of all races and ages. “It’s inspiring,” she says. “Especially the kids.”
At her most recent sold-out show in Seattle, her fondest moment included, “Seeing a 5-year-
old and an 11-year-old whose parents feel compelled enough to bring them to the show; that they wanted them to get something from it.”
“I’m getting back to the purpose of music, and my purpose is to inspire the next generation and
to see that unfold because the parents have a relationship to my music, that’s fulfilling,” she says.
For her Los Angeles fans, the MC’s A Black Woman Created This Tour will make stop March 3
at the El Rey Theatre where you can only expect the unexpected.
“My shows are intimate, whether it’s 500 or a 1,000, there’s an intimacy to my shows that I like
to bring,” she says. “It’s a rollercoaster of feelings. We’re going to have party songs. We’re
going to have songs that are introspective, songs that are spiritual, that are heartfelt; but at the
end of the day it’s a good time. It’s really about us coming together and celebrating each other; women, men, children – the future of hip hop.”
As for the future, Rapsody’s is nestled in authenticity, creativity and philanthropy. “I definitely will put out another album this year,” which she already began recording, “And follow that up with another tour.”
“Creatively, on the business side, I want to start a creative agency,” she says. “As well as a foundation or organization to give back. Starting with my community in Snow Hill, doing something for the kids there,” she says. Finally, adding some acting and much-needed vacation to her list of 2020 things to do.
Although life for Rapsody is ever-changing and evolving as she reaches new heights, some
things remain the same. Through innate resilience that she says as a Black person, is the
strongest trait, she’s proving it’s not a soul on earth who can stop her flow.
“I don’t codeswitch. That’s the biggest thing, be yourself,” she says. Additionally, despite who
you are, Rapsody’s word of advice for remaining solid, “Don’t compromise your art. Don’t let
fear play a factor.”
Rapsody plays with SA-ROC, Heather Victoria, Niko Brim and Coast Contra at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, March 3 at the El Rey Theatre.