Since the Summer jam debacle earlier this year and the related commercial success of Nicki Minaj over the last 18 months. the topic of the female emcee/rapper has had a little more light shined on it than in past years. I am sure it is a term most emcees who happen to be female hate, but the lack of “femcees” in the game over the last 10-15 years is something that, in my humble opinion, Hip-Hop should be ashamed of. If you are an avid fan of the culture and look to the underground you will find dope female emcees, if you only look at the mainstream all you will see is Minaj and unfortunately that trend does not look like it will change any time soon. Sales dictate mainstream exposure and to paraphrase a line from the album being reviewed “n****s with opinions dont support you on itunes”. I bought Rapsody’s album and recommend others do too.
Last week saw the release of “Idea of Beautiful” from Rapsody, which serves as a shining example of how much of a balance is missing from the mainstream. Now I do not know much about Rapsody and really had not listened to much of her material prior to hearing this album. I know she is from North Carolina and is signed to ex-Little Brother producer 9th Wonder’s label, Jamla records. However what I do know about her after hearing this album, is that as her name implies she can rappity rap rap!
The album starts off with the Khrysis produced, Big Rube introduced “Motivation”. She begins boldly by coming with a challenge for the dudes “wake your ass up!” goes the hook, which might rub some dudes the wrong way but you quickly get over after you start bobbing your head to the smooth infectious beat. To me Khrysis is the most underrated producer in the game, but we’ll save that discussion for another day and he delivers again on the next song “How does it feel”.
The tempo slows a little on the next song “Precious Wings” which is both a retrospective on her struggle to make it, failed relationships and an ode to Hip-Hop all at the same time…..dope. Things pick up slightly on the 9th produced “Believe Me” which gives me memories of listening to Bahamadia back in the day. Then comes the highlight of the whole album for me, which is the Ab-Soul featured “NonFiction”. From the harder drums of the beat to Rapsody attacking the mic and Ab-Soul sweeping through and cleaning up as he does on features, this song makes the album for me.
From here on in 9th Wonder takes on the bulk of the production laying the groundwork of smoothed out beats with beautiful singers and overlays inter-weaved into Rapsody lamenting on the state of rap on “Drums” to wishing she could get a Jay-Z co-sign on “Destiny” or talking relationships on the BJ the Chicago kid assisted “Good Good Love”.
From a pure quality of product perspective there are few flaws with this album, in fact there are no obvious flaws. The musicality and attention to detail of the production is top notch and there is a consistent sound all the way through. You can tell it was executive produced by 9th. However and here comes the “but” (and I know I am being picky here), I feel the album is too subdued and too smoothed out. I would have liked to see at least 2 more songs with the intensity of “NonFiction” and switching up the tempo and sound slightly. On the first few listens of the album, by the time you get to track 12 (“Roundtable Discussion” with Mac Miller and The Cool Kids) it felt a little slow. After a few listens this is not as much of an issue but it needs a couple more attention getters to keep the casual listeners interested.
As for Rapsody she is a very good emcee and obviously has studied the art. I would offer the same feedback about her emceeing as I do about the production. Some switch ups in flow and tempo would be beneficial and would help showcase more versatility. As mentioned earlier I find that Rapsody’s vocal tone and cadence are very much reminiscent of Bahamadia or many times I feel I hearing Talib and his off beat patterns. She needs to careful not to become too one dimensional. However this is just the beginning for Rapsody and this album was deliberately set out to sound a certain way and have a certain feel, and overall Rasody, 9th Wonder and Jamla records succeeded in putting together a body of work that truly represents the “Idea of Beautiful”.