The Female Rap Boom of 2019 has given us many new artists and seen more established rappers continue to make strides. While the more overtly sexual rappers, like Megan Thee Stallion, City Girls, and Cardi B, get most of the mainstream’s attention, there are other artists carving their own lane. Today (Aug. 23), Rapsody, a two-time Grammy nominee, released her third proper studio album. Entitled Eve, the album is a celebration of the power and strength of Black women. Back in 2017, I named Rapsody’s Laila’s Wisdom as one of the best albums of the year and “Black & Ugly” as one of the best deep cuts of the year. Eve takes all the best parts of Laila’s Wisdom, witty lyricism, soulful production, concise vision, and expands upon them.
Every song on the record is named after a Black woman. Rapsody is able to avoid this being a corny decision by making sure that the overall tone of the song matches the career/life/story of each woman in the title. The album begins with a haunting sample of Nina Simone’s “Strange Fruit.” It’s hard to make this sample sound unique because the song is so often used and referenced. Furthermore, after Kanye West’s “Blood on the Leaves,” this sample just can’t be touched. Nevertheless, being the visionary that she is, Rapsody was able to transform “Strange Fruit” into a rumination of the resilience of Black women in the face of an intersection of varying degrees of discrimination. Stacked with references to Maya Angelou, Tina Turner, Angela Bassett, and Jemele Hill, “Nina” is a swift introduction to the dense rapping style of Rapsody. She layers multiple metaphors into single lines, and the buildup to her punchlines are so smooth they may go over your head the first time. While she is lyrically dense, she is still able to craft excellent hooks and catchy refrains. “Whoopi”; “Oprah”; and “Tyra” are some of the more commercial tracks that are more fun for easy listening but are still expertly written. There isn’t a single bad song on Eve, each track serves a purpose in celebrating and highlighting the shared experience of Black women. Even when Rapsody brings us to the club on the funky “Michelle,” the outro, where she lists all the women that have “big ol’ butts,” is as tongue-in-cheek as it is a reclaiming of the Black female body.
Eve mainly exists at the crossroads of bass-driven Neptunes-esque beats, soulful samples courtesy of 9th Wonder, and more traditional boom-bap production. The myriad of sounds allows the album to reach across generations of hip-hop and Black women to help add to a story and legacy that started way before Rapsody and will outlive her. In addition, Rapsody uses features incredibly well on Eve. Every artist involved is the perfect complement to the track on which they guest star. The three best features are Leikeli47 on “Oprah,” Queen Latifah on “Hatshepsut,” and PJ Morton on “Afeni.” Yes, you read that correctly; GZA isn’t even the best feature on the album, that’s how strong this record is. Eve is undoubtedly one of the best rap albums of the decade and one of the most important female rap albums in history.
Key Tracks: “Myrlie”; “Whoopi”; “Iman”; “Nina”