Rapsody rhymes, exudes confidence on the stage
Published: Friday, January 25, 2013
Updated: Friday, January 25, 2013 13:01
Behind Rapsody’s gentle demeanor lies a motivated, level-headed business woman with a mind for lyricism. After taking a break from playing hostess, offering everyone in the green room chips and salsa, Rapsody sits down with Emily Berkey before going on stage and discusses working with Kendrick Lamar, the knowledge she has gained from having 9th Wonder as her mentor, her upcoming project entitled “Play Cousins” and offers advice to emcees everywhere.
Q: You’ve recently taken to Twitter talking about Good Kid M.A.A.D. City, over a year ago you released “Rock The Bells” with Kendrick Lamar. Can we anticipate you working with Kendrick again?
A: Yeah, I saw Kendrick the last time he was on the BET Music Matters show and they were in Charlotte but they came to Raleigh to see us. That was probably a couple weeks ago and we talked about doing another joint so it’s definitely in the works.
Q: Do you know what that’s going to be like?
A: I don’t know. I’m still working on picking the beat and I gotta do my verse first. Because I didn’t do it before his album dropped, I wanna give him time to live his moment. We have time. I just dropped my album, he just dropped his, we’ll get to it.
Q: You just dropped “The Idea Of Beautiful” at the end of August. What’s your idea of beautiful?
A: My idea of beautiful is just to be yourself. I think that’s what beautiful is. When you can be comfortable in your own skin and dress the way you wanna dress and listen to whatever music you like listening to and make the music that you want to do, just whatever you dream, just to be yourself and be happy with it. Not to get caught up in stereotypes or what the media portrays as beautiful, being skinny or being light skinned, or whatever, to just be comfortable in your own skin, I think, I think that’s beauty.
Q: Do you have a favorite line in “The Idea of Beautiful”?
A: Nobody’s asked me these questions! There are a few that I like. Probably one of my favorites would be the first four off of “Believe Me”. Mountains and peaks, valleys I’ve been through, the landlord tellin’ me come thru, rent due, since you seem to have it all figured out, next month while you’re coppin one, cop me a Benz too. Because, you know, mountains and peaks can be your good days and bad days, but I’ve also heard it described by Lauryn [Lauryn Hill] and Jay [Jay-Z] as a learning curve. At the top of the mountain, the peak, is where I’ve mastered it. Then I’m going back to learning again then I master something else. I feel like that’s what I’m doing with each project I have. Mastering something then learning something then mastering something then learning something different and growing as an artist. I don’t think a lot of people understand it’s not easy doing what we do. Especially to make the kind of music we make in this climate of what’s mainstream, and to be a female doing it. We’re so underrepresented. So it’s not always easy, but I have fun and I love what I’m doing. You could read a hundred good comments and get one bad and it sticks out. You’ve gotta put your blinders on. Everybody nowadays thinks they can tell you how to do this better than you, and they’re not in it. Where is your success? So that was me venting about a lot of things.
Q: There are a lot of elements of spoken word in your songs. Did you start out as a poet? Have you done spoken word before?
A: I didn’t do it often, but I’ve always wanted to rhyme. It was just a fear thing. Being from a small town in North Carolina, it was a fear thing. I started writing spoken word before I got in the group Kooley High, when they had a show, or when I was in H2O, the Hip Hop organization we started. When we had an event, I would always be the host and between intermissions, my thing was to do a spoken word piece. Everybody in the group did something- you had producers, you had DJs, you had emcees and before I became an official emcee I did spoken word, so to get me involved that’s what they let me do. So that’s what I’m good at, but never anything seriously. I just did it to get it out.
Q: 9th Wonder has recently signed you to Jamla Records and is mentoring you. What’s that like?
A: It’s great. I tell him all the time, I tell him “thank you” a million times, and I don’t want to be anywhere else or sign to anybody else. If I could go back and change it, I wouldn’t change a thing. I’ve known him since the middle of 2005 and from the first day I met him he’s taken me under his wing and mentored me through the years. I didn’t sign with him until ‘08. So he’s real patient; other than music and sports, his other passion is teaching. He wanted to be a history teacher and that’s what he went to college for. That shows that he’s patient with you, he’ll shed all the knowledge and give you all the devices. There’s something even in music that we’re both learning together, especially about flow patterns and breathing and small technical things. It’s fun, you know, he’s able to get you to relax and he knows each of his artists individually and what we like, and he knows my past so he connects with me and takes time to do that. It’s great working with him.