This album was released on August 23rd this year. I’ve been going through Rapsody’s discography in preparation for this album because the only other work I’d heard from her prior to listening to this was her first couple albums. Her She Got Game mixtape is my favorite project from her. I remember a lot of people saying that Laila’s Wisdom was amazing, and that it was the best album of 2017. I think it’s a great project, but I like her first album a little more to be honest. I’ve seen a lot of praise for this album, and one of my colleagues in my Public Speaking class in particular kept bugging me to listen to it this past semester. I told him I’d get to it by the end of the year, so here we are. I’ve heard a couple singles from the album, and I liked both of them, but I’m not really expecting this to be album of the year material for me. I do think I’ll enjoy it though.
This album ended up being as good as I was told. I love this shit. This is definitely my favorite project from Rapsody now. There aren’t any songs that I don’t like, so I’ll talk about it in the proper order of the track listing. The first song is called Nina, and I think this is one of the best tracks.
In fact, the first three tracks are all amazing in my opinion. The dramatic manner in which it started had me very excited on my first listen. The sample of Nina Simone’s rendition of Strange Fruit is very captivating in my opinion. The verse that Rapsody performs on Nina is beautifully written too.
Went from field nigga to still nigga being cropped out the picture
But we all know who got the juice: my sisters
Imitating us in all the Hollywood pictures
And still, they’ll never be us, nigga
The verse is amazing, and the production from Mark Byrd is absolutely stellar. I honestly don’t think she could’ve opened this album up any better. She killed this shit.
I am Nina and Roberta, the one you love but ain’t heard of
Got my middle finger up like Pac after attempted murder
Failed to kill me, it’s still me; woke up singing Shirley Murdock
As we lay these edges down, brown women, we so perfect
The Spoken Word outro from Reyna Biddy is the perfect cherry on top of the song. It’s dope af. I might like the following track, Cleo, even more though. The Phil Collins sample is awesome. I’ve never been a fan of the original song, but the way it’s sampled is really well done. The beat is fantastic. I love how braggadocios and confident Rapsody is on the first verse.
I don’t take time to address opinions that ain’t 9th, Dre or Jay-Z
Only rap radars I need are them and the streets
Be careful the validations y’all seek
I been in them offices; they don’t look like you and me
She killed this shit. It was nice to hear $wank on the hook too. That was a nice surprise. I really love the second verse on this track. Here she raps less about herself and more about the treatment of black women in general in the media.
Enough braggin’, let’s talk about the baggin’
Talk about the money; who in this business they staffin’?
Who milk the cows, but they never put a calf in?
White men run this; they don’t want this kind of passion
A black woman story, they don’t want this kind of rapping
They love a fantasy, they love the gun bang action
What good is a black woman to them?
Raped us in slavery, they raping us again
TALK THAT TALK, RAP! She murdered this shit. The song is dope af. As I said earlier, I think I like this track even more than Nina. Track 3 is called Aaliyah, and it’s another favorite of mine. Rapsody’s vocal delivery on this track is much more animated and eccentric than it usually is. She sounds awesome. The production from Eric G. & Terrace Martin is amazing, and the first verse is fantastic.
I’m closer to God; I done went sky high
Been alienated so much that I must be fly
I am who I am; I don’t rock a disguise
To be more than a woman, now come with some tithes
The vocoder vocals from DJ Battlecat and Terrace Martin sound really fucking good on the hook, which is a relief because I typically don’t like that sound. The second verse was really good, but I’ll admit that it didn’t stand out to me quite as much as the first one. The outro of the song sounds absolutely gorgeous though. I fucking love it. The song is dope af. Oprah is the first song on the project that I didn’t think was totally amazing, but I still think it’s a great song.
The beat on this song has a lot more bounce to it than any of the other instrumentals up to this point on the record. I’m a little bothered by the title of this track because her real government name is Orpah. She only started calling herself Oprah because people kept getting it wrong. I guess there were a lot of dyslexic people around wherever she grew up. Rapsody might know it’s not her real name, but she probably just called it Oprah because nobody knows who the fuck Orpah is. Oprah is also just a less ugly name than Orpah. None of this shit matters though. I probably shouldn’t have even mentioned it. Anyway, the first verse on this song from Rapsody is pretty good, but not really amazing or anything. It’s definitely the least impressive verse up to this point on the album, but it’s still good. The simplistic hook is pretty cool, and I like the second verse a lot. I just wish it was longer; I wasn’t ready for the hook to come back on so soon. The bridge is pretty dope, although it probably didn’t need to be performed more than once. The third verse from Leikeli47 is really cool. I’ve heard great things about her in the past, but this is my first time hearing her rap. Her voice kinda reminds me of GoldLink, but she thankfully doesn’t seem to be anywhere near as lame as he is. Once again, this song has a Spoken Word outro from Reyna Biddy, and it’s really great. I think the song’s dope, but it’s a relatively weak point on the album for me. It probably didn’t need to be 5 minutes, but I fuck with the song overall. The following track, Whoopi, might actually be my favorite song on the album. I think this song is fucking amazing. The production from Khrysis is incredible. I literally said “WHOOOOOOOOO” out loud when the beat dropped on my first listen. The way Rapsody references the movie Sister Act is pretty clever, and the slight shot at Kanye is much appreciated.
Chicks don’t faze me, I’m just like ‘Yonce
I ain’t feelin’ you like I ain’t feelin’ new Kanye
Wish you would like I want new Andre
Back on the block, screamin’ “ándale, ándale!”
Her flow on this track is fucking awesome. She fucking killed it. The second verse is perfect too.
I feel like Urlacher, bang on the block
Betta shoot like KD if you ever take a shot
Playin’ big Goliath when my team got the rock
Been groomed for the throne, I ain’t have to tie a knot
I think the song is flawless. It’s definitely my favorite up to this point on the project. It’s dope af. Track 6 is called Serena, and it’s another highlight for me. The Soul Council really laced this album because nearly every beat here is stellar. Eric G.’s production on Serena is awesome. I actually think the Uncle Luke sample that plays during the hook sounds really fucking good, and the first verse is great. Her flow was dope as hell. I think the second verse is even better though.
You ain’t a real one if you lying
That’s the thing about timing
All my stars still aligning
Rap never did no whining
‘Less the grapes old and Moscato red
Success hella gratifying
For the real ones, what’s a million
If my folk all still dying?
It’s not one of my absolute favorites on the album, but I still think it’s dope af. I love it. It’s followed by Tyra, which is actually one of my least favorite songs on the album. The beat is pretty cool; the Björk sample makes for a relatively unorthodox Hip Hop instrumental. I’m not really a fan of the hook on this song, but I guess it’s fine. The first verse is thankfully pretty good. It’s not amazing or anything, but I enjoyed it. The second verse is way better. Honestly, if the second verse wasn’t so good I don’t even know if I’d like this song. It is though, so that’s good lol. The song is pretty cool, but, as I said earlier, it’s a low point on the album for me. The following track, Maya, is another highlight for me. Tyra transitions really smoothly into it, and K. Roosevelt sounds really great singing on the hook. I was actually surprised to see his name because I haven’t heard from him in a long ass time. I love the soulful, jazzy production from 9th Wonder. The Erykah Badu sample is perfect. The first verse from Rapsody is awesome too. I loved the references to Jay’s 22 Twos & Lauryn Hill’s first album.
Key holes, unlocked ’em; no thinkin’ toxic
You miseducated, like Lauryn with the ‘locks in
If you confuse my boxin’ with me being boxed in
It’s my native language, ain’t gotta say it in moccasins
The second verse was great too. The track is dope af. It’s followed by Ibtihaj, which was the second single I heard from the album.
The production from 9th Wonder is fantastic. At first I kinda wished that they would’ve used a more original sample, but I think 9th Wonder did enough to differentiate this instrumental from that of Liquid Swords. I personally don’t really care for Rapsody’s melodic vocals on the hook to be honest. D’Angelo seems to have the pitch of his vocals shifted during the refrain, which is kinda strange, but it still sounds really fuckin’ great. I think that’s Rapsody singing in the background, and she actually sounds surprisingly good. Her verse was absolutely fantastic. I loved the references to Roxanne Shanté & The Lady of Rage, and the Trae Young line was dope too.
Maybe it’s staged; they trippin’ and they say they got beef
Ain’t an emcee on this Earth that make me feel afraid
“Wu-Tang for the children,” that’s the scripture and phrase
See my goals from a bird’s view like Trae Underage
The guest verse from GZA was pretty great. I’m really glad they managed to get him for this song. He did a really good job.
The street poet gave this special artform a global reach
Who earned your ear and then your heart by giving a local speech
Weaving wonder with words as potent as a sorcery
Not witchcraft, but a list of terms in the glossary
Honestly the first time I heard his verse it didn’t hit me that hard, but if you actually listen to the way he wrote each line, it’s really fantastic stuff.
Well written rap bound to have a greater impact
On a listener for the fact, it’s well intact
An emcee should electrify, beautify, strive to
Empower, inspire, transform a worldview
He killed it. The song is dope af. It’s followed by Myrlie, which is another one of my favorites on the album. It’s really between this track and Whoopi I think. First of all, the production is crazy, and Rapsody’s flow on the first verse is awesome. The content about black women witnessing the deaths of their loved ones is very moving.
Black widow, young kiddo
Tear stained pillow, ‘nother black man died
Wade in the water, I don’t mean baptized
Dark ass times, can’t bat no eye
The sung hook from Mereba is perfect too. As much as I loved the first verse, I think the second one is far more poignant personally. It’s amazing. The way she connected Martin Luther King Jr. to Trayvon Martin was crazy.
Martin Luther wasn’t a big enough deal?
Trayvon Martin ain’t a big enough deal?
I kid you not
How many Martin’s we had shot?
Pouring Remy Martin on the block
In memory, documented by the Roc
Even the connection she made between Malcom X & XXXTENTACION didn’t bother me because of the context and the point she was trying to make. I don’t think she’s comparing the two in terms of their morals and greatness. It just seems more like a commentary about how we see a lot of black men die and leave behind widows and fatherless children.
What Betty did? She saw X die
We saw X die, how Betty did
Now when I exit for the baby kid
Cry for the baby Mama and the baby crib
That’s a broken home, I could be on that
That’s reality, that’s a big ol’ fact
‘Cause I’ma marry black, a hard truth
Think about the widows, that could be us too
The song is amazing, and definitely a contender for my favorite track on the album. The following track, Reyna’s Interlude, is also a favorite of mine. I knew it was gonna be fire as soon as Reyna Biddy opened up with “an ode to the black woman’s body…” 9th Wonder’s production is gorgeous, and Reyna’s performance is beautiful.
Black women, you are a threat on every point of the map
You are love in its purest form; all unapologetic, all unconditional
Always too compassionate, sometimes too forgiving
But never too afraid to show up
I love Reyna’s contributions throughout this entire album, and this is where she gets a chance to shine the most. This shit is dope af. Honestly, it might be the best interlude I’ve heard all year. It’s beautiful. Would it be unethical to name an interlude as my favorite song from the album? I think I’ve done that before, but I can’t remember… Whatever. I’ll cross that bridge when I get to the end of this review. Anyway, it’s followed by Michelle, which I’m pretty certain is my least favorite track. It’s still solid though. I really love the celebratory instrumental from Nottz. The content reflects the atmosphere of the production, and I’m a bit unenthused as a result, but I suppose she executed what she was trying to do well enough.
Run up to the disc jockey, tell her play somethin’ make me shake my body
Fly grown thang, runaway sis with a boss attitude and a black name
Where my girls at?
Where Felicia, and Ayesha, and Keisha, and Michelle, and Shaniqua?
It just sounds like this was specifically composed with the purpose of being music for black girls’ slumber parties. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. It’s just not really the kinda thing that captivates me personally as a heterosexual racially ambiguous mixed dude who hates parties. I think the vocals from Elle Varner on the hook are kind of underwhelming, but they aren’t bad. The production is really the one aspect of the song that warrants any repeat listens from me, but Rapsody isn’t bad here. I think it’s a pretty good song, but if I had to cut one track out it’d definitely be this one. It’s followed by Iman, which is another relatively weak track in my opinion, but not bad at all. I think the production from 9th Wonder is fucking awesome. Once again, it seems as if she was specifically trying to target a female audience; she straight up says that this song is for black women at the end of the first verse. It’s not an issue though. This is still very enjoyable for me. It’s basically just Rapsody encouraging her listeners to embrace their beauty and have self-confidence, which is very admirable in my opinion. It just doesn’t really make for a super interesting listen for me personally. It’s still very enjoyable for me sonically though. I think the sung hook from SiR is pretty good, and Rapsody’s second verse is cool too. J.I.D actually sounded a lot like a woman to me at first. I legitimately thought that he was a girl when he began rapping, but then I remembered that he just sounds like that regularly. His verse was pretty cool, although it did dip into some slightly objectifying lyricism, but it seems like they were aware of that because Rapsody kinda called him out for being disrespectful at the very end of the track. That was a nice touch, and it leads into the following track really well. Hatshepsut is another highlight for me, but it’s honestly just because of the guest verse from Queen Latifah. She completely stole the show on this song. Her verse is fucking awesome; it almost seems like she’s been waiting for an excuse to get on the mic again just to show that she’s still got it because she sounded surprisingly hungry on this shit. The first verse from Rapsody was cool, and the production is solid, but Queen Latifah is what makes the song stand out to me. If it was just Rapsody spitting over this beat, I’d still like it, but it’d be one of the most underwhelming tracks on the project. It’s dope af though. Queen Latifah was perfect. The penultimate track is called Sojourner, and it was the first song I’d heard from this album because it was featured on a Jamla compilation back in 2018.
It was one of my favorite tracks on Jamla Is the Squad II, and I still think it’s dope af. The production from 9th Wonder is glorious, and J. Cole‘s singing on the hook sounds surprisingly good to me. I think his actual verse started off kinda slow because his flow and rhyme schemes frankly seemed a little simplistic, but I was thoroughly impressed and satisfied with his performance by the time he was done. In retrospect, it’s kind of interesting how some of the last few bars in his verse foreshadowed his MIDDLE CHILD single.
I’m sort of heartbroken ’cause the elders lost hope in our youth
And here I sit dead in the middle; not a little boy no more
But not quite old yet, wakin’ up in cold sweats
Scared that I’m too disconnected from the kids’ perspective
The world ain’t got no patience for some shit that’s introspective
So where in the fuck that leave me? Irrelevant, I guess
Went from Heaven-sent to hella bent; intelligent, but stressed
I originally held the belief that Rapsody outshined Cole on this track, and after listening to the song a year later, my opinion hasn’t changed at all. She kinda killed him on this track, but I’m still glad he was here because his verse is very good, and I love his hook. Rapsody slaughtered this shit though. The song is dope af. The closing track is called Afeni, and it’s another one of my favorite songs on the album.
The way the sample of 2Pac was incorporated into the hook is really fucking cool, and the production from 9th Wonder is immaculate. The writing from Rapsody on this song is absolutely marvelous as well. The way she kinda went in on self-hating black men was awesome.
My brothers, I love you
I hate to know some of you treat us like Glover
Black card revoked, maybe you could use Discover
Define yourself; do you feel the same way ’bout your mother?
Do you overlook our beauty, but you lovin’ on all the others
Hope you teach your daughters all to stay away from suckas
Like yourself if you don’t love yourself
The first verse is a direct message for black men, and it’s fantastic. The vocals from PJ Morton honestly sound amazing. I always assumed he wasn’t that talented just because he was with Young Money, which is obviously prejudiced on my part, but I think people who are familiar with that label will understand my apprehension towards him as an artist. The second verse from Rapsody is great, and the Spoken Word outro from Reyna Biddy was the icing on the cake. I think this is a perfect way to end the project, and it’s definitely one of my favorite tracks. 😀
This album is amazing. As I said earlier, I think this is Rapsody’s best work so far, and definitely one of the best albums I’ve heard all year. I don’t know if this will make a top 10 list for me, but it’d probably crack the top 15. I don’t think there’s a single bad song here. Even my least favorite track was at least enjoyable enough for me to not delete it from the project. This is a special album. I don’t think I’ve heard a project that does what this album does to empower black women specifically. I think this album needs to be heard by everyone, but especially black people. I imagine hearing something like this would be really heartening if I was having issues with self hatred as a black woman. I obviously don’t know what that’s like though because I’m not a black woman lol. I don’t even really know if my sister would feel empowered by this since she’s a lightskinned woman who was mislabeled as a white woman when she traveled to Ghana. I’m sure it’ll resonate more with people who are secure in their race and don’t have any confusion or identity issues. I don’t fuckin’ know though. I’m sure plenty white men love this album. This isn’t an album that’s only for women. Thinking that only black women would be able to enjoy something like this is probably just as dumb as thinking only black people can enjoy To Pimp a Butterfly. I think the whole theme behind this album is really fucking cool, and the message and execution is beautiful. She did a fantastic job. This album is dope af. I’m really glad I got to it before the end of the year. Make sure you do the same if you haven’t yet.
Favorite Song: Myrlie
Least Favorite Song: Michelle
Watch the videos below for more thoughts on this album.