Tag Archives: GZA

Three Big Winners from Rapsody’s Eve album

Three Big Winners from Rapsody’s Eve album

by Dan-O

Albums-With an aggregate score on Metacritic of 91 out of a 100 Rapsody’s new album Eve is not consummable in pop music chunks. While it is sixty two minutes and fifty seven seconds long It is so heavily thematic that every song acts as a vital puzzle piece in the totality of Black feminine dimension. This is more literal than hyperbole; most of the songs are named after an important black woman who made an important contribution to the world (Iman, Afeni, Serena, Whoopi, Oprah, etc).

Rapsody is my favorite female rapper in the world right now because of how elusive she is. She sneaks lines through like on the lead single Ibtihaj where she talks about how long women have led the way in hip hop. She says “Women been leading the way, since Roxanne Shante/And the Unit had Flava and Jay had Marcy neighbors that waved.” If you catch it, it is odd to think about Jay at one time having neighbors in Marcy who waved and how long ago that was. It’s a sneaky thoughtful personal image of a figure who seems so enormous now. For her pen to put the camera there is a real strong choice.

As the album’s star she never yells at people or engages theatrics. While this costs her a larger stage it creates real weight around bars that might not be considered that big a deal from someone else. On Whoopi when she sternly states “I ain’t feeling you like I ain’t feeling new Kanye,” you couldn’t help but think that might actually hurt Kanye’s feelings. She didn’t stutter or equivocate. Nothing she says is to be dismissed and critics know it. After years of putting out strong verses and solid music, fans know it as well. I watched a documentary following Rapsody. She is a nice lady in a hooded sweatshirt and if you ever need to ask what weapon she will use to defend herself against this dangerously half dead music industry…the album is the answer. It tells her story in full.

Eric G & 9th Wonder-12 out of 16 songs on Eve are produced by one of these two. 9th Wonder gets the full victory lap treatment because he has been pushing Rapsody with all the strength of his reputation for years and years. Now talking heads (like me) are running around touting Eve when they were dismissing her back in 2014.

I am very happy for Eric G to get a little of this shine. He is one of those kept label producers who remain the backbone of a unit (Elite is this for J.Cole and the Dreamville people). Rapsody sounds amazing over soul samples and smacking drums but Eric G finds a way to push the tempo. He sprinkles a little Roger Troutman into the song Aaliyah. Serena  actually uses a Luther Campbell sample to set a fast tempo that pulls some of my favorite words from our narrator. He gives her soul but imbues it with strength and confidence. Rapsody has grown alongside 9th Wonder and Eric G. Eve is their moment alongside her.

Guests-Have you seen who is on this album? The lead single has GZA and D’Angelo on it. Gza does not contribute verses all over the place. He absolutely brings it like he’s happy to and he is not the only one. Nottz T’s up the perfect piano with chunky bass for Queen Latifah to flex over. J. Cole doesn’t just rap well dude gets deep into himself. His verse starts with “Born into pain” as the first three spoken words. This verse is given with deep respect to a piece of music he knows to be important. Iman captures a lot of talent in one place with JID continuing to build his guest verse portfolio , this time matching his speedbag flow with sincerity, Sir sounds buttery on the hook.

This is not a full review of Eve. If I did one of those it would be 1,500 words. I’d do 400 words just talking about how important to music Oprah is in that it brings the two best female rappers in the world together (Leikeli47 and Rapsody) over a beat (thank you Eric G!) that captures the best of both styles. It bounces with drums 47 can be proud of while giving Rapsody the sonic space to stretch out.

If this isn’t a review let it be a toast.

Glasses up for this thick novel of a thing.

Rapsody_-_Eve

May it never leave us.

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The Answer(to that guy)

The Answer

Patience by Ka

written by Dan-O

At most social events I run into that one guy. That guy who with a light buzz going wants to tell me about the sorry state of hip hop. He explains that it’s a lean sipping suicide pact between tight jeaned hooligans making songs so they can hook up with chicks on twitter.

He’s always been there, at every stage of hip hops development, he’s missing an earlier mythical stage. Being a socially constructive dude I’m always looking for ways to refute him without just telling him he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

Ka is the answer. Hip hop does not define itself on that most popularized one percent and the persona’s they adopt. Ka is a Brownsville MC who while spitting for 20 years finally put together his own album called Iron Works in 2008. His style doesn’t fit the radio, his delivery is a hoarse whisper and his rhymes are cunningly worded street tales. Initially this was going to be something for friends and family. According to his website bio Ka believes “You make art because you can’t help it” so when he made Iron Works it wasn’t to hit key demographics it was to get the rhymes out of his head.

Iron Works passed from friends hands into GZA’s and he was impressed, giving him a spot on the song Firehouse from GZA’s 2008 Protools album. After long years of grinding it’s all paying off for Ka. In 2012 he released Grief Pedigree to rave reviews from Spin, Complex, and his peers (Sean Price named it as one of his favorite albums of all time). It was my favorite album of 2012(that’s right, over Good Kid, MAAD City).

When people call Ka a throwback artist it kind of bothers me. He produces all of his own music and none of it sounds like anything from an earlier era…its actually more sparse than the golden or silver ages. Early hip hop beats were still based on disco and had dance creation as a key mission statement, even further down the line from that no DITC or Boot Camp Clik record was ever as naked and pulsing as a Ka beat.

The song Patience is my favorite on Iron Works and one of my favorite songs in all of hip hop, the drum beat smacks lightly behind his narration. It’s about being strong enough to force your anger into productive energy. A gang of street kids provoke Ka as he’s using all his energy to go straight. “It’s the remarks when I pass talking all smart and fast got me ready to stomp out or spark they @$$ just trying to earn a living, soldier turned civilian, to blend in studied discovery channel to learn chameleon. To hold down my little maintenance job but it’s dangerous hard…” The same way all those years of being ignored tested his patience he clinches his teeth and works out, avoiding the battle until he can’t take it anymore. At the end of the song he confronts the group, cluing them into who they have been dealing with “Ya’ll boys is the bait type if I bring the noise ya take flight. Couldn’t survive a ’85 late night. When I swum the seas I was the great white. Don’t make me kamikaze this corner, cause I know you pun-any, a bunch of performers. You must be confused by the uniform…but I know how to use tools and do you wrong.” He asks who wants to go first and then the song ends.

Hip hop gives people like Ka the chance to share their stories with anyone who can find them. Its definition is not the top layer or the bottom but all the fables that sustain it. When I first heard Ka beg that gang of kids not to make him kamikaze the corner the hairs on my arm stood up. Because that line is dope and I’ll never forget it. That’s the answer.

check out more Ka stuff at http://www.brownsvilleka.com/ or follow him on twitter.