We went to the MC’s studio in North Carolina where she talked about her creative process, lifelong inspirations, and what community means to her.
Sponsored content from Uber
Uber’s Driving Forces profiles young creatives empowering their communities in any capacity they can. OkayAfrica has partnered with Uber to highlight the stories of influential women whose work amplifies voices that are often dismissed or silence. Read more about how Uber is supporting women in the workplace here.
Hip-hop artist Rapsody wasn’t exposed to much rap growing up. Born Marlanna Evans, the North Carolina native grew up in the small town of Snow Hill, listening to anything her older cousins would play in their car, finding her way to the records that would later shape her career.
“We live in a time where words aren’t as important as when we were growing up,” she says. “My wordplay has always been there. I liked poetry earlier on. I used to get the booklets out of CDs and read words.”
She’d watch Yo! MTV Raps as a kid, citing pioneering women in hip-hop as some of her fondest musical influences. She’d later turn her love for hip-hop into a full-fledged career.
She’d join a rap collective and catch the attention of legendary figures in the industry, then in 2008, she’d launch her solo career. Now, 10 years, nine projects, and two Grammy Award nominations later, Rapsody reflects on her progress and success.
“Laila’s Wisdom was a huge milestone in my career,” she says, harkening back on the success of her Grammy-nominated 2017 album named after her grandmother. “Creatively, I went to another level. It connects to the women— my grandmother, my mom, and my aunts— that are important in my life. I want my music to sound like strong, classy, black women. I want to add to the story.”
“I am an MC, I’m goofy, I’m humble, I’m an overthinker, and I am tomboy-feminine.”
Rapsody cultivated a career directly informed by the influence of women around her, and now, Uber is building communities for women in the same way, within its own space. With “Women of Uber,” the name of an initiative that promotes the advancement of women, accelerating professional development, and partnering across the company to attract and retain top talent—the necessary building blocks to lay the foundation to increase representation of women in leadership roles at Uber globally.
“You have a responsibility that’s bigger than yourself,” Rapsody says. “South Africa basically shaped my first album. [The] The Idea of Beautiful cover was shot there with these two little girls who lived in Soweto in Johannesburg. We all felt like we were really at home. Three or four-year-old little girls like, ‘I wanna be like you when I grow up.’ Those things remind me of the power of music and words.”
Director: Brittany “B Monét” Fennell
Producer: Ayana Barber
Producer: Oyinkan Olojede
Editor: Morgan Riles
Director Of Photography: Ragland Media
Sound Mixer: Matthew Smith
Ivie is a Nigerian-American, native New Yorker, and journalist covering culture. Usually on-air, on deadline, and on point. @ivieani