ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day
79°
Mostly Cloudy
H 88° L 77°
  • cloudy-day
    79°
    Current Conditions
    Mostly Cloudy. H 88° L 77°
  • cloudy-day
    86°
    Afternoon
    Mostly Cloudy. H 88° L 77°
  • cloudy-day
    84°
    Evening
    Partly Cloudy. H 88° L 77°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest top stories

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

Entertainment
With 'Eve,' Rapsody gains traction in the best rapper debate
Close

With 'Eve,' Rapsody gains traction in the best rapper debate

With 'Eve,' Rapsody gains traction in the best rapper debate
Photo Credit: Photo by Brian Ach/Invision/AP
This Aug. 22, 2019 photo shows Rapsody posing for a portrait in New York to promote her latest album "Eve." (Photo by Brian Ach/Invision/AP)

With 'Eve,' Rapsody gains traction in the best rapper debate

The debate over who reigns supreme as the greatest rapper of the moment is never-ending and never settled. From LL Cool J vs Kool Moe Dee, Tupac vs. Biggie, Jay-Z vs. Nas, it's a time-honored discussion that's likely to be heard in any barbershop or boardroom where rap fans converge.

These days, while the names thrown out tend to be Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole, the rap matrix is trying to sort out an unexpected entry: Rapsody. The witty, sharp-tonged MC may not only be the best female rapper, but the best lyricist in the entire genre — a compliment few women have garnered despite the genre being decades old.

"I'm honored by it because I earned it. I worked hard for it," said Rapsody, born Marlanna Evans, of the recognition.

"I never looked at it like, 'Oh, I'm gonna be the best female rapper ever.' No, I want to be one of the best_if not the best_ever. People are going to have their preferences, but I know I'm in the conversation. Some, I'll be their favorite. Some, I might be the third favorite_but I know I'm in the top five," she laughed.

It's a rare declaration from the seemingly reserved recording artist. "Rap," as colleagues refer to her, recently dropped her highly anticipated album "Eve," a follow-up to 2017's critically acclaimed "Laila's Wisdom." That breakthrough album earned her two Grammy nominations including best rap album, which had her competing with Lamar, Jay-Z, Migos and Tyler the Creator.

9th Wonder, founder of Jamla, Rapsody's music label, isn't surprised she's finally getting her due.

"The crazy thing about competition is you're running a race but sometimes people have a tendency to do like this (looks left and right) and look at everybody else's lane instead of making your lane ... and widening your lane as much as you possibly can. And she's mastered that art of doing that," he said. "And so doing that for so long and so consistently, that's going to just turn into her outrunning everybody."

The North Carolina-born MC is hardly the first great female emcee; There was MC Lyte, Lil Kim, rapper/songstress Lauryn Hill, Missy Elliott, Nicki Minaj, as well as Queen Latifah, who provided a rare guest rap verse for this new project. But they all faced the same struggle_a fight for respect in this male-dominated music genre, though things are improving: Cardi B became the first woman to win a Grammy for best rap album earlier this year.

Rapsody's latest project, which includes features from J. Cole, D'Angelo, Wu-Tang Clan member GZA and more, consists of 16 tracks, each named after black women_most real, some fictional_that were influential to her. For instance, there's "Michelle" (for the former First Lady), "Oprah," ''Myrlie" (wife of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers), "Cleo" (named after one of the main characters from the "Set It off" film), and "Afeni," whose son was the legendary rapper Tupac Shakur.

"I wanted to show the spectrum of what black women are and the beauty. But also in naming them, I wanted to continue the legacies of some of these names," she said. "And just to show our beauty and our brilliance, and to remind little girls or to introduce them to the fact you are a queen, but you can still have fun within that."

Though no song on this album was named after Hill, Rapsody cites her as one of her most important influences.

"She just represented at that time her truth and honesty in the music that she told. She was just different from everything that came out at that time, and her artistry shined through," Rapsody said. "It just inspired me to want to be more, to hold my head high."

Rapsody not only stands out because of her lyricism, but her look. Unlike her female contemporaries, she doesn't go for the glamorous, sexpot look. That has led some to use her as an example to chastise women who promote their sexuality in rap. But Rapsody, who says she is a huge Cardi B fan, doesn't co-sign that logic.

"I was raised in a village of strong black women. And my mom, my aunts and my sisters, what they taught me early on is how to be and be part of a sisterhood," said Rapsody. "I knew that in order for me to shine, I didn't have to dim anybody else's light because there's room for us all."

Although she's been in the rap game for more than a decade, part of her new visibility is due to Jamala's partnership with Roc Nation, the management and consulting group founded by Jay-Z.

"Roc Nation has helped us reached the 'tier-three,' 'tier-four' people who music for them sometimes is an afterthought," said 9th Wonder. "They're so instrumental cultural-wise, it's like a great gateway for us."

Jay-Z's recent decision to partner with the National Football League has drawn backlash from critics who claim he turned his back on Colin Kaepernick, the former NFL quarterback who Jay-Z has called an icon. Kaepernick sparked a nationwide debate after he began kneeling on the sidelines as a form of protest against racial injustice and has not been signed to a team in two years.

But Rapsody thinks the partnership could be fruitful because "we need our Colin Kaepernicks to do what they do, but we need our Jay-Zs to do what they do, too." Shortly after this interview, Rapsody was named an NFL "Inspire Change advocate" along with Meek Mill and Meghan Trainor.

Like many of today's lyricists, she grew up under the audio tutelage of Jay-Z, but she doesn't seek out advice from her larger-than-life associate, saying the lyrics in his catalog provide all the counsel she needs. When they talk, it's about sports, or it's "just jokes and laughs, and he sends emails and just tells us how proud he is of the work we're doing."

While "Eve" has the hip-hop world buzzing, Rapsody is already beginning to look down the line. She's interested in community work, particularly with children's literacy. But she also plans to produce documentaries, and even pursue acting.

And as far as the debate of who's currently the greatest rapper, what's Rapsody's take?

"Who's the greatest active emcee in the game right now? I'm gonna say me," she said softly, but confidently. And with a slight smile, she added, "But I respect my brothers."

___

Follow AP entertainment journalist Gary Gerard Hamilton at twitter.com/garyghamilton

Read More

The Latest News Headlines

  • The State Attorney's Office says a custodian at Clay High School in Green Cove Springs has been arrested on a criminal complaint charging him with attempted production of child pornography, after investigators say he filmed students in the girls' locker room.  According to the criminal complaint, 42-year-old Jason Goff is accused of filming students in the locker room sometime between mid to late August.  Investigators say two students reported finding a possible camera in a locked locker on August 22nd. When school administrators opened it up, they reported finding a cellphone that had been taped to the inside wall with the camera lens pointing out through a hole, aimed at the changing area.  The criminal complaint says a forensic review of the phone turned up images and videos of high school girls changing. Investigators says at the end of one of videos, the phone camera pans down to show Goff's photo ID badge. Additionally, the complaint says the phone also contained 'selfie' photos of Goff.  If ultimately convicted, Goff faces a minimum mandatory penalty of 15 years and up to 30 years in federal prison and a potential life term of supervise release.
  • Beginning Monday, NAS Jacksonville is warning neighbors there will likely be an increase in aircraft activity and noise due to training operations. NAS Jax says carrier-based jet fighters and other types of aircraft will be conducting training out of the base from September 15 through September 25. We're told this training is in support of aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) operations.  If you have any noise complaints, you can send them to NASJAX_NOISE_COMPLAINTS@NAVY.MIL.
  • The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office says a 22-year-old suspect is being charged with murder, after police say he was responsible for a carjacking on the Southside that ended with the victim dying.  According to police, a witness spotted the suspect, identified by JSO as Johnathan Green, jump into a victim's vehicle in a parking lot off of Beach Boulevard, near Southside Boulevard, just after 7:00 AM on August 23rd.  Police say the witness told them that the victim then jumped into the passenger seat and was hanging partially outside of the vehicle, when Green allegedly accelerated, causing the victim to be thrown out of the truck. JSO says that victim was taken to the hospital, but later died from his injuries on August 29th.  As for Green, police say he was arrested in the area on August 23rd and was charged at that time with carjacking and giving a false name to law enforcement. However, with the victim's death, we're told Green is also now being charged with murder/during certain felonies.
  • A federal judge sentenced actress Felicity Huffman to 14 days in prison on Friday after she admitted earlier this year to paying an admissions consultant to falsify her eldest daughter's college entrance exam. >> Read more trending news  Huffman, 56, pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. Prosecutors said she paid admissions consultant William 'Rick' Singer $15,000, which she disguised as a charitable donation, to rig her daughter's SAT score. Authorities said her daughter was unaware of the arrangement. Update 3:55 p.m. EDT Sept. 13: Prosecutors said Huffman has been ordered to self-report to a Bureau of Prisons facility Oct. 25 to begin her 14-day prison sentence. The facility was not immediately chosen. Her attorney asked U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani to allow her to report to the facility in Dublin, California, which is closest to her home, WFXT reported. Update 3:35 p.m. EDT Sept. 13: U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani sentenced Huffman to serve 14 days in jail and 250 hours of community service after she pleaded guilty earlier this year to charges leveled at her as part of a probe into a nationwide college admissions bribery scheme. In a statement read Friday in court, Huffman apologized to college officials and other students who were affected by her decision to participate in the bribery scheme. She said she felt ashamed of her choice. Prosecutors said prison time would deter others from committing similar crimes and noted that Huffman's reputation would likely recover. Prosecutors said she signed a movie deal with Netflix while awaiting sentencing, according to WFXT. Attorneys for Huffman argued against jail time for the 'Desperate Housewives' actress, pointing to her remorse and her lack of a previous criminal record, among other factors. Update 2:30 p.m. EDT Sept. 13: Huffman appeared in a courtroom on the third floor of the federal courthouse in Boston on Friday for a sentencing hearing. Her husband, actor William H. Macy, was also in the courthouse, according to WFXT. He has not been charged as part of the case. Update 2 p.m. EDT Sept. 13: Huffman arrived at the federal courthouse in Boston on Friday afternoon ahead of her scheduled sentencing hearing. Original report: Prosecutors have asked U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani to sentence the 'Desperate Housewives' actress to one month in prison and supervised release, citing her deliberate and repeated deception of her daughter's high school, the college entrance exam system and college administrators. They have also asked she be fined $20,000. 'Her efforts weren't driven by need or desperation, but by a sense of entitlement, or at least moral cluelessness, facilitated by wealth and insularity,' prosecutors said last week in a sentencing memo filed in court. Authorities said Huffman coordinated with Singer to convince test administrators to give her daughter extended time to take the SAT in 2017, citing a 'learning difference.' She arranged to have her daughter take the test at a center affiliated with Singer, where her answers were altered to boost her score by about 400 points, prosecutors said. 'She could buy her daughter every conceivable legitimate advantage, introduce her to any number of useful personal connections, and give her a profound leg up on the competition simply because she would be applying to college as the daughter of a movie star,' prosecutors said in the sentencing memo. 'But Huffman opted instead to use her daughter's legitimate learning differences in service of a fraud on the system, one that Huffman knew, by definition, would harm some other student who would be denied admission because Huffman's daughter was admitted in his or her place, under false pretenses.' Attorneys for Huffman have asked Talwani to sentence her to one year of probation, 250 hours of community service and a $20,000 fine, calling the incident out of character and noting her remorse for her part in the admissions scheme. 'In my desperation to be a good mother I talked myself into believing that all I was doing was giving my daughter a fair shot,' Huffman wrote in a letter to the court filed last week. 'I honestly didn't and don't care about my daughter going to a prestigious college. I just wanted to give her a shot at being considered for a program where her acting talent would be the deciding factor. That sounds hollow now, but, in my mind, I knew that her success or failure in theater or film wouldn't depend on her math skills. I didn't want my daughter to be prevented from getting a shot at auditioning doing what she loves because she can't do math.' Huffman is scheduled to appear Friday afternoon in the federal courthouse in Boston. Huffman was one of more than 50 people, including 34 parents, to be charged earlier this year with participating in the large-scale admissions scheme. Prosecutors said the parents involved paid Singer to bribe college coaches and rig test scores to get their children into elite universities. The scandal also led to the arrests of “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, both of whom are fighting the charges. The amount Huffman paid is relatively low compared to other bribes alleged in the scheme. Some parents are accused of paying up to $500,000 to get their children into elite schools by having them labeled as recruited athletes for sports they didn't even play. Authorities say it's the biggest college admissions case ever prosecuted by the Justice Department, with a total of 51 people charged. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

The Latest News Videos