Rapsody is a supreme lyricist whose talents are unbound by conventional limitations. But, with her fourth studio album, Please Don’t Cry, we learn more about Marlanna Evans -- body image insecurities, intimacy with a married man, and the secrets that are inextricable to her being. If it were up to the MC, though, we would’ve gotten more.

“I wrote a song about my cousin who passed away. I wrote it for the album, but I also wrote it for myself. I considered putting it on the album. If it were my choice, I would probably have 30 songs on the album,” Rapsody reveals to REVOLT.

In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” one of the deadliest MCs explains why she didn’t go into her collaboration with Lil Wayne looking to compete on the track, how she turned a photo of honey into one of her best songs ever, and why she released Please Don’t Cry before the two other albums she was working on. Read the convo below.

Your last album, Eve, was released over 4 ½ years ago. When did you know you were making Please Don't Cry?

I started working on three albums in March of 2020. I knew I was going to do an album. It was just a matter of which one I was going to do. What direction was I going to go in? The longer the pandemic was, the more I realized I really had to heal and grow in some areas. I was excited about these two other albums, but couldn’t give them to the world until they got to know me first. I did 12 songs in two days on the first weekend of March. It felt good. But I was still working on the other albums at the same time; I didn't stop working on those other albums and put all my attention into what became Please Don't Cry until that summer. The oldest record that made it onto Please Don’t Cry was “Stand Tall.” It was in that first batch of 12 songs that I did in that first weekend.

Since you were recording for three albums, how many songs did you do by the time you were done with Please Don’t Cry?

I had 360 songs in the tank. I put the tracklist for Please Don’t Cry together in the summer of 2023. I had a running playlist of my favorites. It started at 50 songs, and then I'd dwindle it down to 40, and then it got down to 30. Then, I finally made the final decision on the tracklist.

This is by far your most personal album ever. What was your last real-life experience that you turned into a lyric or song?

I wrote a song about my cousin who passed away. I wrote it for the album, but I also wrote it for myself. I considered putting it on the album. If it were my choice, I would probably have 30 songs on the album (laughs). The original tracklist was 26 songs, but I made it 22.

What’s a typical studio session like for you?

With this album, I tried to grow artistically and grow in how I created it. So, it looked different than it normally does. In the past, I’d want you to turn off the lights, leave me alone, and give me the beat, which is what it is. I recorded myself for that first batch of 12 songs with this one. The beat was already constructed, so I was really writing to that. I really got into the meat of this album when I went to Dallas to work with S1. I was inspired by a writing session with Alicia Keys and Raphael Saadiq. Alicia had all of these pictures on the walls in the studio. Everywhere you looked, there was inspiration. So, during this time, I was on Pinterest heavy. Pinterest is like my favorite app. I was making these folders of pins of words, poems, photos, and color palettes of how I felt and what I wanted the music to feel like. Producers sometimes talk in colors. So, I wanted this album to be yellow, orange, brown, and blue because it is kind of sad.

Specifically with S1, I showed him my Pinterest, and he told me, “Rap, let's just go to Kinko's and print them out.” We printed them, and he let me pin them on the wall. Every day I came down, he'd ask, “What are you feeling today?” I would look at the wall and take a picture based on how I was feeling or what I wanted to write about that day, and he would create a beat based on what that picture sounded like to him. Or, we would watch movies. We are huge The Color Purple fans. So, we’d be in the studio with the pictures on the wall, and The Color Purple would be playing on TV, but it’s on mute because it was the frequency.

When I was with BLK ODYSSY, we were in El Paso, Texas and Austin, Texas. We spent one day in El Paso and did five songs from scratch. He’d ask where I’d want to go, and I’d say, “Jamaica.” That’s how we got “He Shot Me.”

What picture inspired a certain song?

“Raw” was a picture of a Black woman with blonde hair that was short and in waves, and she had all these gold rings on with super long fingernails. She had a bowl of Oodles of Noodles that she was picking up with her hands and about to put in her mouth. This picture was so beautiful, raw, and Black. “With “Diary of a Mad B**ch,” it was two pictures. The picture that inspired the beat was a picture of hands dipped in honey, which was dripping off of the hands. Honey’s sticky, so it drips slowly. I asked S1 what he heard when he saw it, and he said, “The honey is slow and sticky.” So, he put the drums in reverse, so they sound almost like they’re pulling. My aggression came from a photo of someone’s face with a ski mask on, with the other side being a Rottweiler barking and growling.

You have some complex bars, so I want to make sure I get their meaning correctly. You said, “N**gas pull the Drac before they rap about affection.” Is that a double entendre?

Definitely. A lot of times, we end up killing each other because we don’t know how to deal with our emotions, especially Black men who are taught not to show emotions or cry when they really need to have that therapy and have an outlet for how they feel instead of projecting it through a gun on a man who looks just like you. Also, Drake is an affectionate man. He has no problem showing emotions.

You get really personal with the stories on this album. Did you give any preemptive calls to people to tell them you were going to be this open?

No, this album was for me. I sent people songs and told them I was sharing these stories. I think it’s honorable to do that. One person asked me to remove a line or a song, and I told them no. This is my story to tell. I protected people. I won’t say names. I know what I did never came from a place of trying to down anybody else. It was all about me, my story, and how I grew from certain situations. I knew that doing that would help other people.

You made “Raw” and added Lil Wayne. You’re a dope MC, so you like to body people on records --

That’s not intentional. I don’t go into records thinking, “I’m about to body you.” That’s not how I approach music. I’m only competing with myself. I have respect for artists, and we always want to show up as our best selves. It doesn’t matter who you are. If I give you a verse, I want to give you the best me. I’m not competing with you in that way. That’s what battles are for. I’m open to whatever. But, with “Raw,” I only did a 16 [bar verse] and went first. The beat was different and it had a hook. My intention was to make something about being raw, having fun, and not trying to outrap anyone. I felt like I had so many moments on the album that I needed to lean back and have fun. Wayne sent his verse and I was inspired. I could leave the verse I did because it’s still a great song. But, I was so inspired by his verse that I felt like I wanted to match his level of intensity. So, I rewrote my verse.

Out of the hundreds of songs you’ve recorded, what is an unreleased one you hope comes out one day?

Me and Mary [J. Blige] did one for this record, but we know the song can be better. We both felt the same way. I want to work on the production and we want to work on the hook.

What else do you have coming for the rest of the year?

I’m inching back into the studio. It takes me a while to do so after I put out a project so that I can live life. I’m doing a lot of work to push this album, but I will be preparing for the tour kicking off in September. My summer will be spent working on the tour and easing back into the studio to see what’s next. I have some business ventures I get to pour time into. I get artists I get to pour into. It’s going to be a busy but fun year.