With Eve, Rapsody shows us that she is a force to be reckoned with. Backed by beats from 9th Wonder‘s production collective The Soul Council, she delivers a passionate and powerful message honoring iconic and inspirational black women throughout time.
Rapsody has been all over the hip hop scene for over a decade. Even though Eve is only her third studio album, that doesn’t mean she hasn’t been busy. The North Carolina MC has worked with Kendrick Lamar, Big K.R.I.T., Talib Kweli, Black Thought, and 9th Wonder, to name but a few. Eve is sonically crisp and lyrically profound, and can easily be in the running for not only the hip hop album of the year, but possibly the album of the year, period. The concept for the record is brilliant: each song is named after an influential black woman. Rapsody is out to inspire not only women of color, but all women. It’s truly a beautiful and empowering message.
Eve was primarily produced by The Soul Council, which is comprised of Khrysis, E. Jones, Ka$h Don’t Make Beats, AMP, Eric G, Nottz, Hi-Tek, and 9th Wonder. Only Eric G, Khrysis, Nottz, and 9th Wonder are actually present on the record, though. Mark Byrd, who produces the first track “Nina” is the only producer outside of The Soul Council. 9th Wonder, also from North Carolina, is the most popular producer of the bunch, who’s well known for his work in Little Brother. The beats are all very well put together, pulling from boom bap, soul, and everywhere in between. That is one of the advantages of having multiple producers: there are multiple flavors and styles throughout the record. And let’s be honest, Rapsody could rap over the sound of an MRI Machine and make it sound fire.
One very cool thing about The Soul Council‘s work on Eve is their use of samples. 9th Wonder uses “In The Air Tonight” by Phil Collins on “Cleo”, while Khrysis thinks way outside of the box by using “Watermelon Man” by Herbie Hancock on “Whoopi”. One of the best samples on the album is found in the final song “Afeni”, named after Afeni Shakur, 2Pac‘s mother. 9th Wonder flips a sample of “Keep Ya Head Up” by 2Pac on this emotional closer. Among the record’s most memorable beats is the one on “Ibtihaj”, which sounds like a gritty late 90s Jedi Mind Tricks or Wu-Tang Clan track. That’s another one by none other than 9th Wonder.
When it comes to features, Rapsody obviously chooses quality over quantity. There aren’t too many guest spots on Eve, but the ones that did end up on there are all big names throughout the hip hop sphere. J. Cole, another North Carolina native, performs on “Sojourner”; he comes out swinging with the chorus and first verse. One guest that caught me off guard was GZA, who is featured on the old-school boom bap track “Ibtihaj”, which also sees D’Angelo singing the hook. Finally, one of the best features comes from the one and only Queen Latifah on “Hatshepsut”. If you were wondering, yes, Queen Latifah can still flow!
Rapsody‘s lyricism and flow are unmatched. Her punchlines and double entendres are brilliant. What really impressed me about this record, though, is how each song is named after an inspirational black woman. I touched upon it a little up to now, but I want to get a little more in-depth on the brilliance behind the concept of Eve (which is named after the Bible’s first female). I am familiar with most of the references made in the song titles, such as “Aaliyah” (the r’n’b singer), “Whoopi” (the actress Whoopi Goldberg), “Serena” (the tennis player Serena Williams), and “Michelle” (former first lady Michelle Obama). Those are all amongst the more popular powerful black women of recent time.
Another remarkable aspect of Eve lies in the historical women that Rapsody chose to honor through it. The Queen Latifah track “Hatshepsut” is about the first female pharaoh in Egypt, whereas the track “Sojourner” is about 19th century women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth. “Ibthihaj” honors Olympic fencing bronze medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad, who was the first Muslim woman to wear a hijab while representing the United States at the Olympics. What makes this track particularly clever is that 9th Wonder flipped a “Liquid Swords” sample while also featuring its original performer, GZA. According to an interview, 9th Wonder chose the song’s title ‘because she’s a fencer with a sword’.
Eve is a wonderfully woven tapestry of empowerment and entertainment. Eve is a history lesson over synths and programmed drums. Eve is elite lyricism and powerful punchlines. Rapsody really put it all together to create an album that will be relevant for years and hopefully eras to come. She also proves that she’s not one to be messed with on the mic. This album is one to bump in the ride for sure, but also one to listen to with headphones when in need of history or inspiration. It’s a really impressive and beautiful piece of music, and will undoubtedly remain standing when the smoke clears at the end of the year, when everyone’s set to make their lists of top albums.