Ryan Buell | This Week in hip-hop
Spotlight: Rapsody’s ‘She Got Game’
Published: Monday, September 23, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 23, 2013 10:09
With the rap world losing its collective mind over the leak of Drake’s highly anticipated “Nothing Was the Same,” I figured I would dial it back a bit this week and focus on a lesser known project. Originally released as a free mixtape back on Aug. 20, Rapsody’s critically acclaimed “She Got Game” recently got a facelift with a deluxe, for-purchase version. The deluxe version is DJ-free (meaning none of those obnoxious DJ Drama promotions) and swaps out a couple guest verses in favor of new verses from the aspiring emcee. The deluxe version also comes with two new bonus tracks and two instrumentals from the original mixtape.
The Jamla-signed rapper makes huge strides on “She Got Game,” bringing impressive flows and even more impressive rhymes over beats from big name producers, including 9th Wonder and Khrysis. Rapsody has been on the rap scene for a little over five years now, and this is easily her most high-profile project. In addition to the aforementioned guest features, Rapsody brings Raekwon, Mac Miller, Ab-Soul, Jay Electronica and others to assist her on “She Got Game.” These noteworthy collaborations prove that she has made it big enough to attract the attention of some of hip-hop’s largest names.
Not one to beat around the bush, Rapsody brings it from the very opening track, “A Song about Nothing” — a track that, contrary to its name, weaves an introspective tale about trying to make it in the rap game. Rapsody takes the listener through her highs and lows with lines like “Currently I’m secluded with all my passion / Wonder if I’m slightly depressed from all the harassment.” The album only gets better from there. “Lonely Thoughts” features Chance the Rapper and Big KRIT over a mellow but moody instrumental and continues the theme of overcoming life’s lows to reach a better place. My personal favorite track, “Dark Knights,” is a song littered with Batman references and rhymes about the struggles of poverty and “reaching for better.” Over Eric Jones’ soulful, sample-driven production, Rapsody professes that while she may be striving to improve her financial situation, “money will never make” her. It’s a powerful track about misfortunes and ambition that defines what Rapsody is all about: making music for the love of music and never letting the struggles of life break you down.
On the next track, “My Song,” Rapsody insists that she “ain’t the next Ms. [Lauryn] Hill.” While she certainly distinguishes herself from the legendary female rapper, the comparison merits consideration. Rapsody, like Lauryn Hill, has broken into a traditionally male dominated industry and has done so without relying on gimmicks or commercialized sexuality, a la Nicki Minaj. Rather, she is making a name for herself based on her rhymes and her talent. However, what Rapsody is insinuating is that she shouldn’t be compared to Lauryn Hill simply because of her gender. It begs the interesting question of how females are labeled within the rap world. She sheds herself of the derogatory “femcee” label, placing herself in the hip-hop conversation at large, a sentiment illustrated by the closing line of the song: “Pronounce my name R-A-P.” Rapsody is making the convincing case to view her — and others — simply as a rapper, rather than specifically as a female rapper. It’s a testament to her prowess as an emcee that she can make such an oft-ignored problem in hip-hop a crucial element of her music.
While the rest of the hip-hop world focuses on Drake’s “Nothing Was the Same,” I will be continuing to play “She Got Game” on repeat, digesting Rapsody’s deep lyricism and memorizing every turn of the masterful production. I highly suggest everyone else take a listen to this impeccable piece of work — I promise you won’t regret it.