Rapsody (2019)

Snow Hill, NC

Marlanna Evans was born in 1983 but most properly introduced to the world as Rapsody in 2011 (when mixtape For Everything attracted icon Kendrick Lamar for a feature). It was then that her destiny as a vital, poignant voice at music’s forefront was guaranteed — even before the release of her debut album The Idea of Beautiful in 2012.

That album was the sound of a preternaturally wise young artist claiming her throne. Though not egocentric, her combination of cheeky wordplay and stone-faced directness showed a confidence that announced her fixture as the next important voice of a generation. No wonder it included (and later earned her) collaborators like Ab-Soul, Anderson .Paak, Black Thought, Busta Rhymes, Chance the Rapper, Jay Electronica, and J. Cole — essentially the who’s who of both modern and golden-era rap history.

Talented friends are a great thing to have, but a visionary album where you eclipse them is even better. Hence, Rapsody’s 2017 album Laila’s Wisdom. It is a luscious, mature and ruthless collection of gauntlet-snatching performances by an artist who has a full grapple over her own ideas and her collaborators. The record closes with the song “Jesus Coming,” a gospel-hued lullaby that almost makes you forget that she could snatch your throat out at any moment. Key word being “almost.”