Come As You Are

by Drey Wingate / @ProStatus85

It’s a hot summer night at The Garage in Winston-Salem, NC. The last stop of the 2011 Mic Fest Tour. I’m behind the stage listening to and kicking with some of hip-hop’s newest talent, not to mention less than 10 feet away from the man 9th Wonder himself.

Regardless of the ridiculous heat index that has everybody in the crowd sweating as if ventilation doesn’t even exist, that doesn’t stop the crowd from pumping their first and reciting every lyric back to every artist that hits the stage. It had been a while since I had been in the land of some of the ACC’s finest, and boy did it feel great to be back. Tar Heels and Blue Devils integrated and great music, it can’t get any better than this.

Very rarely do new artists shake up the rap game without having a long-term buzz that is followed by a certified platinum album. These days it is more than just getting radio play, having a gimmick or being under someone that is considered one of the best in the industry. Real fans want to be able to relate to their favorite artists. They want to feel as if they can connect with them on every level. They anticipate every piece of material they release, constantly check their Twitter and Facebook timelines for new updates, and read every new post on their websites because they truly feel they are a part of their journey.

North Carolina based emcee Rapsody is a prime example of what an artist is all about. Not only is she as humble as they come, but she uses the support of her fan base as her drive to get better. It has never been easy for the female artist, but this B-Girl feels no pressure whatsoever. For her it is all about working hard and not worrying about what others think or say. Fresh off the release of her newest project “Thank HER Now,” which has the internet going crazy, Rapsody is on the verge of giving the female emcee a brand new definition.

SLAM: You seemed to just come out of nowhere on to the music scene and have created a crazy buzz. What’s it like hearing all the positive feedback from those that support your music?

Rapsody: It’s a good feeling. Better yet, it’s a great feeling! It’s good to know people like my music. It’s not easy to put your art out to be judged by the world. So, to come this far and have the support from family and friends, people I don’t know from Adam, and ones I grew up listening to is an indescribable feeling. We all start with a dream and after a while you stop dreaming and start doing, and to reach these milestones that I have means more than words can describe. I don’t take the compliments and support for granted a single day. I use it as fuel, to get better and continue to grow. I feel like I now have a responsibility, a standard to uphold. And, it’s a great feeling and challenge.

SLAM: Do you feel any pressure or see it as a big challenge being a female hip-hop artist, especially with the way the game has changed over the years?

Rapsody: No, I never go into it thinking like that. My foundation and focus has always been about the music. I want to make good music. The best music I can possibly make. I don’t go into it thinking I have to be the spokeswoman for emcees who happen to female around the world. The music does all that for me. I let the music speak for itself.

SLAM: Your first project, “Return of the B-Girl” caught a lot of people by surprise and people really started paying attention. How does “Thank H.E.R Now” separate itself from that?

Rapsody: “Thank H.E.R. Now” was more conceptual. I also settled more into my flow on that project. And, I learned how to make better songs with Thank H.E.R. Now. It was only a mere six months between the releases, but I did a lot of growing with THN. And, I also did less proving that I can rap, and focused more on telling my story and letting my fans get to know me as an emcee.

SLAM: You call yourself the “black girl Jedi.” Where did that whole title and movement come from?

Rapsody: There are quite a few Star Wars fans here at Jamla. And, we use that movie as a parallel with hip-hop. Hip-hop is the equivalent of the Republic in Star Wars, and we are like Jedi—protectors of the Republic, or hip-hop. Hence, Black Girl Jedi. I am wanted to preserve the hip-hop culture.

SLAM: Many hip-hop fans are saying that you are the best female lyricist out right now, what does that recognition mean to you?

Rapsody: I’m very humbled. I don’t know if I’m worthy of that title just yet though. But, I’m very excited to be in a class of great emcees like Jean Grae, and so many others, male and female. It’s exciting, and it drives me to keep growing and learning… and just making the best music I can.

SLAM: What female artists constantly keep you motivated and helped you become the artist that you are today?

Rapsody: I’m inspired by a number of artists, not just artist who are females. New and old artist alike. 9th Wonder, Jay-Z, Lauryn Hill, Mos Def, Jean Grae, ATCQ, MC Lyte, Busta Rhymes, Kendrick Lamar, Big K.R.I.T. to my Jamla brothers and sister. I draw inspiration from good music. Good music motivates me.

SLAM: Your latest project includes some big names such as Marsha Ambrosius, Estelle, Big K.R.I.T. and Wu Tang legend Raekwon. Did it come as a shock to collaborate with them?

Rapsody: It definitely was a “dream”-like moment to have them on my second project. I still pinch myself. I went into the project not expecting to have a lot of features at all. And, to come out at the end with artist of their caliber is a… I don’t know… it’s a very humbling and exciting experience. I’m very grateful to all of them for supporting me, and being a part of the project… all for the love of making good music. It’s a beautiful feeling I can put into words.

SLAM: You’re from North Carolina and are a hoops fan, so let’s inform the people about what side you’re on. Are you a Tar Heel or a Blue Devil? And why?

Rapsody: BLUE DEVILS…DUKE BLUUUUUUE BABY! I have been a Duke fan since Grant Hill’s freshman year. It started with him, and I just fell in love with the organization and Coach K. In high school, on every day Duke had a game, I would come to school in white and blue, from head to toe. That’s the team!

SLAM: What are your favorite top-five albums of all time?

Rapsody: Man… that’s a tough question. I’m going to assume we’re speaking of top albums, and not just hip-hop albums. Sheesh… umm…

The Score – The Fugees

Mama’s Gun – Erykah Badu

Reasonable Doubt – Jay-Z

Blueprint – Jay-Z

Black Album – Jay-Z

SLAM: Where do you see your career in the near future and what kind of an impact do you want to leave on the rap game?

Rapsody: In the future, I would love to headline my first east coast tour, and for that to eventually turn into a national and international tour later or even tour nationally with as an opening act for a larger artist. I’d be excited to have videos running on major music networks, release my first debut album within the year, and have that project place on some charts. The main focus is to continue to build the brand and expand the fan base by making good music, and putting out a solid project.

Visit Rapsody online here: