Cardi B

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10min4530

IN honouring Denzel Washington at the 47th AFI Lifetime Achievement Award Gala Tribute this year, actor Mahershala Ali said “…your influence, your reach transcends race without ever denying it…” Fitting words for a thespian who’ll go down as one of the best to ever do it. Rapsody’s latest album EVE, and her other previous work in fact, displays how much this black female’s art transcends gender, without denying it.

Something rappers who are female tend to get tripped by is the novelty of females in the rap game. You find sisters only rapping about being females who rap, which more often than not, comes off as a homily- not music. Like how the typical “underground” rapper would bog you down with how the mainstream is being manipulated by a secret society and that the biggest artists are actually aliens in human form-all of this without telling you their story and making actual music. But Rapsody has mastered the art of music making and storytelling. When listening to her music, what’s between her legs isn’t relevant and you’re there listening to a dope ass kat. But her sex is unquestionably significant to everything and very much unmissable.

Poignantly titled EVE, Rapsody’s third album is more special because she titled each of the songs with names of powerful black women. From Cleo (the character from the movie Set It Off played by Queen Latifah), Oprah Winfrey to Nina Simone. She paid homage to these women and all others in the globe in the best way she could.

Till this day I think her previous album Laila’s Wisdom is universally underrated. I couldn’t fathom her returning so quickly, with something so rich in sound, lyrics, and concept. Plainly put, I didn’t think home girl could top Laila’s Wisdom.

Ibtihaj is named after Ibtihaj Muhammad, who was the first Muslim woman to wear a hijab while representing the US at the Olympics where she took silver in fencing. Rapsody gives nods to strong female emcees that came before her on the song, like Lady of Rage and Roxanne Shante- and taking a leaf from their book, she shows her bravado and says ain’t an emcee on this earth that make me feel afraid. GZA’s verse has that nice old school feel, thanks to his flow…with D’Angelo vocals complementing both rappers.

There must be something about Rapsody’s chakras because whoever she features, the genuine chemistry is always palpable. Whether it’s  Sojourner with J.Cole, Oprah with Leileki47 or even Iman featuring J.I.D and SiR. In an interview with Sway, she said she wanted Cardi B to be on the track Whoopi. The bouncy beat produced by Khrysis would’ve suited Cardi’s energy. Rapsody’s beat and collaboration selection is like that of a producer; she’s quite decisive in that space.

The opening keys to Hatshepsut took me to church and even when the beat comes on, the warmth of the song remains. It would be wrong to say Rapsody got chowed on this joint because of all the love in the song, but hearing Queen Latifah rap is hella refreshing and inspiring. Her verse was on some Big Sis’ tip not only for Rapsody, but the youth.

Even living single we connected by the tribe
Was raised by a Queen, know how to be one
And love one and raise a King
When he’s older I’ll describe how to love ’em
Queens come in all shapes and colors
Though we sit on thrones we don’t look down on each other
I learned how to rule from my mother and my aunties
Got the blood of the Asante
I could be Cleo or Ghandi to protect mine
It’s peace of mind, word to Jersey
I’m a giant, a Queen’s pride stronger than the lions
Connected by alliance, sisterhood
The day you try to test me, look homie I wish you would
Open doors for the ladies as a Queen like I should
That’s why I’m Queen Latifah in every village, every hood
And I’m good, and every city worldwide
And why I been reigning for the last twenty five
So all hail the Queens and the next ones to arrive
Came out of Jersey with naughty dudes and hella drive
Just another day above ground working my thighs, we runnin’ it
Member the days me and ‘Pac, we had some fun with this
When I would bust you dead in your eye, that’s called humblin’
Been holding the torch, I don’t fumble it
I’m a child of God versus son of men, tellin’ ’em

I enjoyed Rapsody’s heartfelt letter to black folk, especially us black men on the track Afeni. It’s a timely song looking at the issue of Gender Based Violence in South Africa right now. The emcee drops knowledge about how men should learn to treat all women with the respect and love they would their mothers and sisters.

EVE cements her name as one of the best to ever do it. If we’re talking top emcees in the game right now in the mainstream, Rapsody’s name should be mentioned with the Coles and the Kendricks.

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10min11110

EVER found yourself genuinely delighted that someone is happy, despite your opinion of the reason for their happiness?

Like how an attractive damsel would be overjoyed by shedding some kilos, you’d obviously acknowledge her achievement of reaching a personal goal, but in the back of your head know that she doesn’t need the number on a scale to validate her beauty.

That’s how I felt Monday morning, watching highlights from the 91st Academy Awards. It was when legendary film director, producer and writer Spike Lee went to accept his first ever Oscar award for his recent film, BlacKkKlansman.

One of the best films ever to be made, Do The Right Thing, which Spike wrote, directed and produced in 1989 was snubbed by the Academy awards. Earlier this month, speaking to The Washington Post Spike was quoted saying “This is not in any way disrespectful to the Academy, but after Do The Right Thing, I just said ‘you know, whatever award it is, I’m not going to let myself be in a position where I feel I have to have my work validated.”

That quote alone lets us into the pain Spike felt from the 1990 Oscar Awards. On the other side of coin, his elation on Sunday night’s ceremony demonstrates how much the award means to him. And accepted the award with a moving speech.

I have not watched BlacKkKlansman, so I can’t say if Spike deserved the award for that particular movie. But on Tuesday morning I posted on Facebook that Spike is too great to be excited by an Oscar. Without trying to throw shade at the irrepressible director, the point I was merely trying to convey was that great artists don’t need to be certified by the academy institution to sanction their prominence. Especially black artists.

But what stood out for me, was how most of the young creatives on the social site, liked, agreed, loved and even shared the post.

I get why Spike was hurt by Do The Right Thing‘s loss, and why 30 years later, he jumped on Samuel Jackson’s arms like a lil kid, in accepting his award. Think about it, Spike was 32 years-old when the awards that celebrate cinematic excellence took place in 1990, and they had been taking place for more than 60 years. So you can imagine the clout, prestige and significance of a recognition from the Academy to a filmmaker born in the 1950s.

Not to suggest today’s young creatives don’t appreciate or yearn even, for industry recognition. There’s disinterest and distrust towards “honours” from industry gatekeepers. In music and film.

I was my mother’s one year-old sweetheart when Malcom X (also directed by Spike) was in cinemas. I watched the film years later and was astonished to find out that Denzel Washington, who played the US political activist, didn’t take the Best actor award in the 1993 Oscars. Why would I trust them, if they dismally failed to celebrate Denzel’s finest piece of acting?

Young artists don’t trust these institutions.  After winning his Grammy last month, Drake gave an acceptance speech that displayed the power that today’s artists have taken from these ceremonies. “We play in an opinion-based sport, not a factual based sport. It’s not the NBA where at the end of the year you’re holding the trophy, because you made the right decision or won the games. Look, if there’s people who have regular jobs coming out in the rain, in the snow, spending their hard-earned money to buy tickets to come to your shows. You don’t need this right here. I promise you, you already won.”

Poignant words from the Canadian rapper on the Grammy stage, basically giving the prestigious music awards a polite middle-finger. And this by the way, is from an artist who a few years ago gave away his own Grammy awards on Instagram to artists who he thought were snubbed.

Social media has allowed artists direct access to their fans. Artists are continuously on the receiving end of affirmation from their followers, reminding them of the real impact their art has. Do The Right Thing grossed over $30 million in cinemas, with a budget of less than $10 million. I wonder how Spike would look at that snub, had the movie came out during the prevalence of social media. The validation that comes with seeing people from around the world, celebrating your work would have some effect on your view on awards. Black Panther director Ryan Coogler, said he appreciated how 2018’s big movie was appreciated by the audience.

While celebrating the Grammy wins of Cardi B, Jay Rock and Anderson.Paak on Twitter, J.Cole mentioned how this moment for them, is bigger than the awards could say.

Of course there are senior citizens in Hollywood who’ve had this thinking long before, like Woody Allen who has never accepted awards from the Academy. “The whole concept of awards is silly. I cannot abide by the judgement of other people, because if you accept it when they say you deserve an award, then you have to accept it when they say you don’t,” said the dodge old man.

I personally don’t have an issue with awards per se, it’s people running these bodies that I have gripe with. Black creatives are always chasing to be recognised by Caucasian-led institutions.

Someone made a point on my post on Facebook that Spike was also celebrating the milestone because of the tireless work he’s done as an activist for the inclusion of black people in Hollywood. I honestly believe it’s through the work done by people such Spike, that Black Panther and even Jordan Peele’s Get Out won Oscars. It’s through the noise he’s been making.

That’s good and all, but do we still need to be making noise about not being appreciated by white people? why should we fight for inclusion into institutions created by Caucasians ? Our generation doesn’t want to live out its blackness through white norms.

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6min3690

THERE’S nun more annoying than a female that raps about being a female who is a rapper. It’s in the ilk of old niggers spitting a bunch of remember raps-rhymes about how they were leaders of the game aeons ago.

Thank rap gods, Noname is neither. She can’t be classified an OG since her latest project, Room 25, is actually her debut album. She released her first mixtape two years ago, the critically acclaimed Telefone.

From the jump, you can feel Phoelix’s influence on this project. Dude has the executive production role in the album and officially features on two tracks. Because of this, the project is more musical than Telefone. It’s kinda bizarre that this is only Noname’s second project.

In the first track Self, she says this project will makes you question your reasoning on religion, relationships and even Kanye. But it’s her second that caught me, where she raps

Mr. Money Man, Mr. Every Day He Got Me

Mr. Wifing Me Down, Mr. Me-Love, Mr. Miyagi

Miscellaneous, Mr. Molly Inside My Sake

Incredible, incredible emptiness in my body

Heaven’s only four-feet tall, I set my ringer to it

Fucked your rapper homie, now his ass is making better music

My pussy teachin ninth-grade English

My pussy wrote a thesis on colonialism

In conversation with a marginal system in love with Jesus

And y’all still thought a bitch couldn’t rap huh?

Maybe this your answer for that good pussy

I know niggas only talk about money and good pussy

The Chicago rapper always spits shit that make you ponder on the extraterrestrial, without forcing it down your throat. Because of her poetry background, Noname always prioritizes the bars, but her Achilles heel is her monotonous flow. She isn’t the overly sexual Nicki Minaj, nor is she rambunctious and hella ghetto as Cardi B, drops bars as a Rapsody but maintains her uniqueness. Her flow is unconventional than most emcees in the industry.

But her music ends up sounding the same, even though it talks to a variety of things. On Ace, with Saba and Smino, Noname holds her own with some of her humorous lines-she has a great sense of humour which always suprises me  because she seems a serious individual.

But because of her flow, she doesn’t lure your ear as Saba and Smino’s verse. She sounds dull next to these colourful rappers. This was the song where she flexed about being a dope all-round artist, but it also presented an opportunity for her to show us the ace up her sleeve in terms of flow. But dololo. The Dillaesque beat on Don’t Forget About Me sounds tailor made for Noname’s nonchalant flow.

This is lullaby music and bumping this album on a long drive to the other side of the country would be enjoyable. It’s good music. Every time I hear her rap, my ear itches to hear that old school Chance The Rapper. This is probably because Chance introduced the world to Noname.

On Montego Bae with Ravyn Lanae, she sounds like a woman out of high school more comfortable with her sexuality and knows herself more than she did when Telefone came out. On her previous album, she spoke about a lost lover on the disheartening Bye Bye Baby, but sounds a happier damsel on Montego Bae.  Noname’s music feels like a hot cup of coffee on a cold day, enjoying it in a cosy warm bed. The track With You captures this feeling and is so relaxing, shame it’s a short song.


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