In our current hip-hop landscape, females are not as prominent in hip-hop as past generations. The MC Lytes, Queen Latifahs and Real Roxannes of the 80s have been replaced with female artists who either sell sex through their image, or play characters to generate sales. With a lack of female MC showing strictly lyrical talent, The Idea Of Beautiful from Rapsody fills the void.
Rapsody has often been the minority (sometimes sole) female representation within the boys’ club of hip-hop, right from her early days in the North Carolina based group Kooley High, through her stint as the first lady of producer 9th Wonder’s label, Jamla. With three projects already under her belt: Return of The B-Girl, Thank H.E.R and For Everything, Rapsody has made a name for herself as a wordsmith and essentially one of the only female artists these days who is actually staying true to the craft.
With her debut LP The Idea of Beautiful, Rapsody is essentially posing the question, What is beautiful to you? In interviews, Rapsody has revealed that her goal was to achieve the equivalent of what a complete hip-hop album from Lauryn Hill in her hey-day might sound like–and considering the size of the shoes to be filled, she does pretty well. With collaborations from artists like Raekwon, Rocki Fresh, Raheem Devaughn, Ab-Soul, Big Remo, BJ The Chicago Kid and more, as well as production from 9th Wonder, Khyrsis, Eric G, E Jones and more, Rapsody creates a well-balanced album sprinkled with bits of wisdom, anchored by her distinct southern drawl and uncanny delivery.
The album opens with “Motivation,” featuring Big Rube of Dungeon Family fame. The Khyrsis-produced track comes complete with a lush beat and what appears to be a sample of Amel Larrieux’s classic track “For Real,” underscoring the lyrics’ call to action, motivating people to wake up and realize what is going on around them. “Precious Wings,” produced by Eric G, opens with an iconic scene from the classic Nia Long/Larenz Tate film Love Jones. With the song, Rapsody personifies hip-hop but brings more emotion for her love letter to the genre than other songs in the same vein.
African singer Nomsa Mazwai is featured on the album three different times with tracks like “Kind of Love,” “In The Town,” and “When I Have You.” The singer ,who caught 9th Wonder’s attention while he was on the bright continent, adds a nice addition to the album as she has an interesting voice that flows seamlessly with the overall production and tone of the album. In addressing the collaboration of these two artists, special attention should be paid to “In The Town” –the story of a young woman caught in the street life that essentially leads to a sad end and despair. The story that Rapsody tells plays with the female perspective instead of the traditional male figure, making for an interesting twist on the familiar tale.
With The Idea of Beautiful, Rapsody creates a solid and well thought out debut. By the end it’s evident that what Rapsody does well is tell stories that become visual through her lyrics and if there was any doubt that her style and sound could progress from mixtape artist to true MC, this album lays them to rest