Kooley High emcee Rapsody and her Jamla Records crew have been working under the slippery credo “Culture Over Everything” of late. For her, this entails an affiliation with hip-hop totems like the Universal Zulu Nation, a sneaker obsession and a commitment to exalting and upholding the role of the female rapper. The struggle for Rapsody, as it has been for counterparts Bahamadia, Jean Grae, Nitty Scott and even Nicki Minaj, is mainly about getting the world to pay more attention to her skills than her sex. Rapsody, in turn, has been careful to a fault about how she incorporates her sex appeal with her tomboyish, B-girl charisma.
On For Everything, Rapsody’s third full-length project overseen by producer 9th Wonder, these characteristics finally work in tandem. “A Crush Groove” is a 9th Wonder-produced, starry-eyed beamer that invites us into some of the personal spaces that Rapsody then revisits on “This Woman’s Work” and the title track. For an even closer look, there’s “The Autobiography of M.E.,” where she touches on being raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, losing her virginity at 16 and being rejected by Pharrell Williams.
These are some tough memories; Rapsody uses them as fuel. It’s long seemed too much to ask for her to yell, spit and curse at imaginary rap foes. No longer. “Ain’t Worthy” is a spitfire attack featuring ex-UNC point guard Quentin Thomas, where she does her best bullying to date. It’s about time she strayed far from the delicate utterances and whisper rap that have always seemed a bit pretentious and cuddly. For once, Rapsody even raises her level of rhyme difficulty; on “All Black Everything,” she runs with the color of black in a convincing layout of hard-core emceeing (despite the obvious Jigga jacking) above an Eric G. sledgehammer beat.
You even get the feeling that she’s not too worried about being out-rapped by new heavyweight Kendrick Lamar on “Rock the Bells” or veteran show-off Freeway on “A Cold Winter”; she is simply enjoying the company as a chance to show that she’s good and getting betternot for a girl or for a boy, but for an emcee still holding a lot of promise.