Rapsody on 'The Beauty and the Beast' and "Culture Over Everything"

Rapsody on 'The Beauty and the Beast' and 'Culture Over Everything'
Over the past few years, Rapsody has carefully crafted an identity that conveys three incredible attributes: a great MC, a strong woman and a modern day raptivist.

Since the release of her EP The Beauty and the Beast in October on Jamla Records — a label owned by legendary producer 9th Wonder — the 25-year-old artist has already set her sights on new projects, as well as a new artistic vision shaped by the sociopolitical issues that have become a focal point in the black community for the past several months.

Taking a moment to reflect on her single "Drama," Rapsody tells Exclaim! "I think with everything going on with Mike Brown and Eric Garner… that was like my fight song. I wanted to put that grittiness out."

While "Drama" plays an important role on The Beauty and the Beast EP, it also serves as the vehicle for a bigger motto Rapsody supports: "Culture Over Everything."

"The mantra to me has always been 'for the people, by the people,'" she explains. "It just shows that we have solidarity as a people and we let our voice be heard, we can rumble some things and we can make some changes. It shows we have a lot more power than what we think we do. We can make shifts in music, we can make shifts in politics, we can let our voices be heard and they can't ignore it. [It's] the same way New York had almost a million people march — you can't ignore something like that."

The self-proclaimed laid-back but feisty-when-needed MC also remarks on the struggles of being a woman in the hip-hop industry, particularly being a black woman.

Siding with Azealia Banks' recent remarks on Hot 97, Rapsody says, "It's very difficult and it's a fight. Especially if you don't want to be half naked and put yourself out here. To be a black female and to be talented, just off your talent and not because you're trying to sell something else, that's difficult. We have to work 10 times harder just get the respect that we can rap, for one, because people don't think we can rap. And two, it's like, 'Oh you can rap, but I can't relate to it' — yes you can, if you listen to it. If I can relate to you're saying as a man, you can relate to some of the things that I'm saying."

So, just what are Rapsody's plans for 2015? Well, perhaps a Grammy boycott, à la 1988 may be applicable.

"The Grammys… I say we give them too much power sometimes. It's great to have those accolades and we all want to be recognized, but if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen. It definitely needs to be said that hip-hop matters, and it's not a popularity contest, which that's what it's made to be."

Alongside Jamla Records, Rapsody notes that despite not having a release date for the follow-up album to her 2012 release The Idea of Beautiful, she'll be in the background supporting the Army's four studio releases.

"9th [Wonder] always says, 'If you build it, it'll come' and you have to let the music be your driving force. I feel like as long as I continue to work hard and put out great music, everything else will fall into place because you can't deny great music. Great music is undeniable."