“Laila’s Wisdom” is Rapsody’s prime

This year’s continued success of impactful and artistic rap albums appears to be nowhere close to slowing down with the 2017 release of “Laila’s Wisdom” from North Carolina’s own Marlanna Evans.

Guilford staff and students may be familiar with Evans, better known by her stage name Rapsody, as she performed on campus nearly two years ago during a WQFS concert by the lake.

Rapsody, currently signed with Jay Z’s “Roc Nation,” has been in the rap game since the mid-2000s, but has only reached recent accolades after her featured work on rapper Kendrick Lamar’s “Complexion (A Zulu Love)” and R&B artist Anderson .Paak’s “Without You.” Since her work with said artists, Rapsody has released the EP “Beaty And The Beast” and the mixtape “Crown” in the span of three years.

“Laila’s Wisdom” follows in the footsteps of her previous pieces of work in terms of the female-centric feel, message and vibe typically found in a Rapsody song. The main difference with this project compared to her others is the overall concept of this album. Although never focusing on just one storyline or theme, “Laila’s Wisdom” flows between each track with ease.

A big part of this can be attested to the production of the album. Between the six DJs and producers who worked on the 14 track “Laila’s Wisdom,” legendary producer, 9th Wonder, can be attributed for nine of those 14 songs. 9th Wonder, who also hails from North Carolina, has worked with industry greats such as Jay Z, Mary J. Blige and Erykah Badu and contemporary stars like Kendrick Lamar, Drake and J. Cole. All of the beats off “Laila’s Wisdom” used many groovy and funky samples of the 1970s with the production reminiscent of the rap scene in the 1990s.

As for the songs themselves, Rapsody displays her lyrical skill as she proves her evident talent in “Laila’s Wisdom.” As previously stated before, Rapsody does a fantastic job of discussing a multitude of topics and issues while maintaining the whole concept of “Laila’s Wisdom.”

Rapsody makes sure to pay homage to some of her idols Jay Z, Beyoncè, Tupac and Maxwell while rapping about her own life, family and the current state of her community on tracks such as “Laila’s Wisdom,” “Chrome (Like Ooh)” and “Ridin’.” As the LP plays on, Rapsody brings up themes of woman empowerment and female pride as an African-American woman in the lyrically impressive “Power,” that features vocals from Kendrick Lamar, the upbeat and fun “Sassy” and the smoothness of “Black And Ugly.”

Towards the end of “Laila’s Wisdom,” the message shifts again from echoes of self empowerment to echoes of love and emotion. With the song “Black And Ugly,” the featured, BJ The Chicago Kid says it best in the chorus, “Yeah, they call me black and ugly. But I go so hard, make the whole world love me.” Here, Rapsody reflects on her own life as a dark-skinned woman in the industry. What follows “Black And Ugly” are beautiful and artistically soulful tracks like “A Rollercoaster Jam Called Love,” “U Used 2 Love Me” and “Knock On My Door,” that display a softer and more compassionate side of Rapsody that, frankly, has not been heard by her in years.

With “Laila’s Wisdom” being out for only a couple of weeks, fellow rappers, art critics and music fans everywhere have praised Rapsody’s latest effort. Many are even suggesting that “Laila’s Wisdom” could be the best rap album this year, regardless of sex. Especially with recent releases from female hip hop artists Noname, SZA and T’nah Apex, Rapsody reigns supreme. And if you include all of the critically acclaimed rap albums from 2017, from Kendrick Lamar to Drake, Tyler, The Creator to Goldlink and from Joey Bada$$ to Logic, the compliment garners even more respect. With all of this being said, “Laila’s Wisdom” is without a doubt Rapsody’s prime in terms of product, lyrics and artistic skill over the mic and in the studio.