Rapsody's Eve and the Celebration of Black Women Everywhere
By Thomas Rodriguez
History hasn’t exactly been kind to women, and unfortunately, especially black women. A vast majority of black women in the past and present have suffered due to prejudice, a feeling of subservience, and voicelessness. Despite these hurdles, however, a few black women throughout history have been true pioneers in advancing the status and reputation of all women, regardless of color or creed.
Now, in 2019, North Carolina MC Rapsody seeks to celebrate these powerful women, cementing her name as one of the best rappers in the game while also empowering black women everywhere through her regal, impactful tour-de-force titled Eve.
Eve is a proud record, bold in its message and execution. Its sound varies from lush soul, inclusions of vintage sampling, quirky jazz, and contemporary hip hop flavors. Opener “Nina” features Rapsody setting the stage of the conflict facing black women today while touting her confidence and lyrical skill over a haunting sample of Nina Simone’s “Strange Fruit,” setting the tone and making known the boldness running through her veins.
Each track on Eve revolves around the powerful black women from which their titles are drawn—from Michelle Obama to Maya Angeloua—bringing them to life through the bars and instrumentals. “Cleo,” for instance, is the soundtrack for a queen forcing her way through a crowd of enemies, while the silly aura and money-driven lyrics of “Oprah” draw upon the good humor and financial success of Oprah Winfrey.
As the orator for these tales of black women’s success, Rapsody is damn near perfect. Her appeal lies on a fine medium-ground of relatability and a bit of old-school muscle on every song here. “Aaliyah,” or example, celebrates the deceased R&B star while also referencing Rapsody’s own tomboy lifestyle, while “Tyra” and “Iman” revolve around the beauty of black women from all walks of life. Each track on Eve features at least a handful of clever quotables, weaving tales of childhood and love in and out of well-written humor and flexing.
For every well-known reference Rapsody throws in on a track such as “Whoopi,” she’ll dig up an obscure or eye-widening one such as the D’Angelo and GZA assisted “Ibtihaj,” where producer 9th Wonder laces a “Liquid Swords” sample to introduce listeners to the strength and fencing skill of Ibtihaj Muhammed, the first Muslim woman to wear a hijab whilst fencing for the U.S. Olympic Team. Eve is laced with details like these to make each track worth dissection.
Despite the lofty goal Rapsody sets for herself and listeners on Eve, she manages to reach it in a way that’s fresh and fun. Rapsody covers universal themes that are enticing when drawn up against the general theme of black female excellence. “Michelle,” for example, is a bouncy call to a ladies’ night out that gets even my male body stepping along to the groove. Freedom, a concept covered heavily in the genre, is revisited in a beautiful fashion on the wonderful woodwinds of “Maya” and the uplifting pianos of the J. Cole assisted “Sojourner.” Rapsody’s will to include the likes of such important black women in both the past and present is amazing to behold, especially considering how many different backgrounds these women come from. Whether they be the highly acclaimed athlete Serena Williams, or the pharaoh Hatshepsut (whose track on the album is a gorgeous 90’s throwback with Queen Latifah), the celebration of these women is worthwhile all the same...
And so is Eve. The album is powerful in all aspects: from lyrics, to beats, to features, and it’s overall message. Rapsody manages to walk the line between seriousness and enjoyability, while making every bar count. For any hip-hop fan, regardless of race or gender, this is a must listen.