First Listen
11:34 am
Thu August 15, 2013

First Listen: Rapsody, 'She Got Game'

Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 12:19 pm

A young rapper from North Carolina, Rapsodydoesn't want to be labeled or limited as a woman in hip-hop; she wants you to know that she's as good as any of her male peers — and better than quite a few of them. With her newest project, She Got Game, Rapsody is in her own lane, one that skirts music industry norms for female musicians regardless of genre (read: bikinis, rescue fantasies, twerking).

Influenced by greats like Lauryn Hill, MC Lyte and Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), Rapsody is grittier than Hill and more soulful than Lyte, with a knack for brutal realness that recalls Bey. The production here, helmed by Little Brother's 9th Wonder, is a masterful mix of '90s-esque beats derived from soul samples and sunset tones. Rapsody's deliberate voice flows smoothly over them; she's got purpose here, but She Got Game can help listeners unwind, too.

Rapsody is unafraid to spar with veteran rappers Raekwon and Common, as well as newcomers like Mac Miller, Chance the Rapper and Ab-Soul. DJ Drama has put his name behind her by including She Got Game in his Gangsta Grillz mixtape series, where it will be available on August 20. Going that route — one dominated by male rappers — directs her toward a broad and discerning audience. The record provides a showcase for her skills, smart positioning of her aesthetic among the old and new guard of rap, and a cool-headed voice in a sweaty, overbooked room.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.