Parfit – Rapsody In Motion Lyrics

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“I can do what you do, easy, believe me.”

--Lauryn Hill, Ready or Not


From the moment I met Rapsody she defied convention. It was nearly 2 years ago in Atlanta that I approached her for an interview and without questioning who I was or what organization with which I was affiliated, she unhesitatingly said yes. Even more surprisingly, when I asked when she wanted to shoot the interview, she said: “I’m ready.” No makeup. No frills. No pretenses. She was about substance, not glam

I come from a world where artists (both male and female) are keenly aware of their image. No blemish is uncovered. No hair is out of place. And, every outfit is meticulously styled. So Rapsody’s approach was radical, almost subversive. I mean, in today’s music world, how often does authenticity come first? As we eased into the conversation, a discussion of her earliest experiences with Hip-Hop and when she knew she wanted to be an MC, she surprised me once again. Out of the 10-15 artists with whom I’d spoken about similar matters, she was the first to mention non-rappers as influences. But don’t get it twisted. She was still ‘bout that life…that Hip-Hop life that is. From the moment she saw MC Lyte in her Poor Georgie video and witnessed cyphers on the bus as a bystander in the 4th grade, she knew rapping was what she HAD to do. It would not be until she went to college, however, that she would gain the confidence to actually put pen to paper and seek to make a living through Hip-Hop, always putting “culture over everything.”

I left the interview that day a fan, not yet of Rapsody’s music—I had previously been intoxicated by the beats and the flow but needed to revisit the catalog to study the content—but of the person. There was a genuineness about her that is harder and harder to find in a world of avatars, profiles and @handles. And then came A Crush Groove…She had always had clever word play but this song took things to a different level. She effortlessly weaved a tale of a woman with a secret crush on a friend and an open love for Hip-Hop. It was Brown Sugar on wax; Love Jones on vinyl.

Shortly thereafter, her For Everything mixtape dropped and I started to dive into her body of work. What I found was strikingly similar to the person I’d met on that October 2011 day in Atlanta. The music was soulful and brooding and enveloped a lyrical flow that was quiet, intense and deceptively complex. Moreover, the mixtape was particularly noteworthy for what it DIDN’T have. Contrary to the flavor du jour, For Everything was not laden with tons of high profile features. In fact, there were only 3: her Jamla brother GQ, Philadelphia Freeway (one of her Hip-Hop idols?) and Kendrick Lamar (not yet KENDRICK LAMAR but already spitting flames with Rapsody standing toe-to-toe with him). She also once again shunned glitz and glam with the imagery. The artwork was simple and to the point. It featured her in a black t-shirt doing what she does best—rocking on the mic. There was no talk about how good her sex was, degradation of other women or any other trappings then common in music by some of the more popular MCs who were women. Even the track The Woman’s Work was only titled as such because it was the proper pronoun to assign to her in a song about her pursuing her grind. This was a rap album that was about beats and rhymes, plain and simple. Like Rapsody, that theme was subtle but strong and relentless

Rapsody and I next crossed paths briefly at SXSW in the Spring of 2012. Surprisingly, she remembered the interview (though not really me). While she remained warm and humble, there was something different about her. It was not just her new hairstyle—a short cut that ironically made her look even more feminine than when she wore it longer. There was a different level of swagger about her as if she was starting to internalize the respect she was gaining from the Hip-Hop world as an artist. I asked if she was working on anything new and she said she had been in the studio but didn’t have a release date. I was intrigued but I was not prepared for what was to come

The Idea of Beautiful, Rapsody’s debut album which was released in August 2012, represented a quantum leap from her past work. Without sacrificing her clever wordplay, she layered in a level of vulnerability that separates the elite from the good. You could hear it from the first verse of her first single, Believe Me. She spoke of the lack of financial success to accompany her critical acclaim. She acknowledged the responsibility she felt to be a role model to young girls. And, she lamented the politics as usual of the music industry. On Kind of Love, she revealed the impact a trip to South Africa had had on her, contrasting the innate sense of home she felt there vs. the ambivalence of her feelings about her Carolina home. She also took a rare shot at some of the harmful depictions of women. And make no mistake, there was also plenty of chessboxin’ on tracks like Non-Fiction and Roundtable Discussion. Throughout the entire album, her continued love for Hip-Hop was always manifested with odes and references on each song

Shortly after the release of The Idea of Beautiful, I once again connected with Rap, this time to discuss the album and her journey as an artist. The increase in her quiet intensity was readily apparent. She was still soft-spoken but more self-assured. She also spoke openly with me for the first time about not wanting to be known as a “female MC.” While some saw that as a descriptor, she saw it as a needless qualifier. She was an MC. Period. And she wanted to be recognized as among the best of the best (male or female). Her dedication to her craft had also grown over the years, to the point where she now lived and breathed Hip-Hop on the daily, often literally living in the studio

To truly understand the growth (and the dichotomy of Rapsody), however, was to witness her live. I saw her perform her “Beautiful” set in October 2012 and it was hard to believe she was the same person I had interviewed a year ago (or even just the day before…). From the moment she took the stage it was like she had traded in the glasses and the trench coat for the tights and the cape. She cased the stage like she owned it, brimming with a level of confidence otherwise only reserved for the booth. Like with her albums and mixtapes, the reverence and references to Hip-Hop of yore were plentiful and throughout the set she urged—no, commanded—the crowd to shout “culture over everything.” And, it was clear no truer words had been spoken by an artist

I left that night feeling like I had seen a special artist shedding her skin and emerging bolder and more colorful. I wondered if she had reached her apex. Now, nearly a year later and having heard her new project She Got Game, I realize she’s actually just getting started…Believe me

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