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When it comes to artists who pioneered respectable sounds, Rapsody is no stranger to intricate lyrics. The North Carolina emcee was primed for greatness upon working with legendary producer 9th Wonder and signing to JAY-Z’s Roc Nation imprint in 2016. As one of Raleigh’s most spirited voices, she is greatly recognized for being the lone feature on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly as well as for her GRAMMY-nominated sophomore album, Laila’s Wisdom. For several years, Rapsody has broken boundaries and carved her own lane for other artists to walk along amongst a list of other accomplishments. From touring the states to celebrating nearly a decade in the game, she’s proven to be one of the most admirable artists to step foot onto the scene.
Let’s take a look at seven facts about the famed rapper to get you more familiar with her — if you’re living under a rock and aren’t already.
1. Rapsody started rapping in a group called Kooley High
Before putting out her first solo effort, the N.C. emcee rose to acclaim via rap group Kooley High. The members met through a student group called H2O at North Carolina State University.
Initially, the rap group was comprised of six members: Charlie Smarts, Tab-One, DJ Ill Digitz, Sinopsis, Foolery, and of course Rapsody. Although the latter branched off to begin her solo career upon the release of 2010’s Eastern Standard Time, Rapsody made a guest appearance on their latest LP, Never Come Down. It was also executive produced by the legendary 9th Wonder, who signed her to It’s A Wonderful World Music Group.
2. She doesn’t label herself as a female MC
In a 2019 interview with Genius’ Rob Markman on For The Record, Rapsody spoke about being placed in boxes since the start of her career. “There’s always going to be labels. I can’t stand labels, but I know there always will be labels. People have always tried to make me a female MC and ever since I first came out, I was like, ‘I’m not a female rapper.’ Don’t put me in that female rapper box,” the Raleigh native emphasized. “I don’t make music as a female rapper, I make music as an MC. I just happen to be a female, so I can talk about the female perspective. But, I can talk about everything.”
3. Rapsody’s first feature was from the legendary Big Daddy Kane
One of Rapsody’s very first features came from Brooklyn rapper Big Daddy Kane, who to this day is considered one of the most influential hip hop artists in the 1990s. He appeared on the Raleigh emcee’s “Young, Black with a Gift,” a standout cut from her 2010 debut mixtape, Return of the B-Girl. The project also boasts features from artists like King Mez, Rah Digga, and the late Mac Miller to name a few.
4. She doesn’t like being labeled as a conscious rapper
Amongst many other lyricists who are vivid storytellers and make timeless music, Rapsody does not being labelled a “conscious rapper.”
“I can’t stand [the stigma],” she told “The Breakfast Club.” “I don’t like that because everybody is conscious. We’re all conscious. People like to think that it’s ‘oh, you like to talk about political, deep things.’ No, consciousness is being aware of what you’re doing in surroundings.”
5. Her sophomore album pays homage to her grandmother
In 2017, Rapsody unveiled her sophomore album, Laila’s Wisdom. The title pays homage to her maternal grandmother Laila Ray. The rapper pointed out that her grandmother would always say, “Give me my flowers while I’m here.” The saying equates to giving one the time and love they deserve while they’re still in your life. Furthermore, the album’s cover art is of a young girl with a halo of jewels and flowers floating in the background. It serves as a clever reference to Rapsody’s grandmother.
6. Rapsody has a huge family
Rapsody grew up in a small town known as Snow Hill, which is roughly an hour away from Raleigh, where her music career originally began. “[Snow Hill] was a small town, everyone knows everyone. It was a real community environment,” she told North Carolina Public Radio about her childhood. “My mom is one of thirteen and my dad is one of nine, so between both sides, I probably have over two hundred first cousins.”
7. She’s signed to Roc Nation
In 2016, she inked a deal with JAY-Z’s Roc Nation imprint, making Rapsody the first female artist under the label. Furthermore, both her sophomore studio album and third album, Eve, were released the imprint. At the time of her signing, Rapsody was still under 9th Wonder’s It’s A Wonderful World Music Group.