• Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

Rapsody Speaks On Showing North Carolina Off And The ‘True Currency’ Of What She Does During Charlotte’s Hip Hop Museum Tour Stop

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In celebration of hip-hop’s 50th anniversary, Mass Appeal, Hip-Hop 50 and The Hip Hop Museum brought “The Hip Hop Museum Tour” to Charlotte, North Carolina.

On Nov. 17, the touring exhibit told the story of the genre through interactive activations, memorabilia and a fireside chat featuring NC native Rapsody.

The event featured hip-hop-themed cocktails presented on turntables while a graffiti-covered payphone let you leave a voicemail for your favorite artist.

Guests experienced a visual timeline of the music that shaped the world. Some artifacts included the first hip-hop concert poster dating back to Jul. 6, 1979, the notebook in which DMX jotted down his rhymes while incarcerated, and an original suit from designer Dapper Dan.

The exhibit celebrated hip-hop’s evolution, and Rapsody represented the outcome of its influence.

Before Rapsody sat down with the museum’s curators, music historian Pete Nice and Paradise Gray of the legendary rap group X-Clan, Blavity spoke to the Grammy-nominated artist about her journey with hip-hop.

In 2019, Rapsody was the only woman nominated in the Best Rap Album category at the Grammys. Her third studio album, Eve, was a dedication to women that inspired her and prior generations. Each track was named after influential Black women, including Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Nina Simone.

The artist took to Twitter last month, announcing that her latest album is complete and on its way.

After a four-year hiatus, the artist says she was in a totally different mindset while working on her new album versus Eve.

“This album is my most personal work. I did a lot of healing and growing in it. It takes you on a journey. There’s no concept to it. It’s just about truth-seeking and standing in the mirror and learning to love yourself,” she said.

The “Power” artist stated her new work allows her fans to get “to know more of her as a person.” She joked that her friends believe her new music will allow her fans to realize “she’s not perfect.”

While Eve was a tribute to women who inspired her, she revealed her new effort “shines the light on her.”

“I think I had to get to know myself first. I was still searching. I wasn’t as confident or as sure of myself. During the first few years, I spent a lot of time trying to gain respect, prove something, and be in these conversations to say that ‘I’m one of the best,’” she said. “Now I just want to be free. I had to unplug from the illusions of what I thought I needed to do to feel successful.”

Her latest single, “Asteroids,” produced by Hit-Boy, exemplifies her newfound growth and comfort within herself. 

“I’ve wanted to work with him for a long time,” she said. “We didn’t get to create together physically, but he opened the studio with open arms. He didn’t hold back. We went in very intentional about what we wanted. He’s so versatile and gave me so many options.”

She said that she “lived with the song for a couple of months” before returning it to the producer for his “blessing.”

Rapsody gave the Grammy winner his flowers, stating that working with the “legendary producer on his amazing journey while she’s on her own is just another beautiful and exciting story to come out of hip-hop.”

While she doesn’t revel in it, Rapsody is noted as one of the great female writers of the culture’s story. Endless posts and interviews are floating around the internet stating hip hop “needs” her. Although the sentiment is not lost on her, she still finds it hard to believe.

“For me, it’s hard for me to see outside of myself. As I’ve mentioned before, sometimes I wondered if anyone cared, if enough people cared, or if the right people cared. So when I see all the comments like ‘Yo when you comin’ back, we miss you, or we need you to balance things out,’ I feel so grateful,” she said.

The praise allows her to see the “true currency” of what she does. “It’s not in the accolades, how many records you sell, or the numbers – it’s in your connection with people. And that is what brings me joy. That’s what gives me purpose.”

The rapper considers the opportunity to participate in The Hip Hop Museum Tour as a “complete honor,” but just a small drop in the bucket to repay the genre for what it’s done for her.

“This culture changed my life. It changed the world. So many people are individuals of this culture, and we all play a part in it having a voice. So, to have the opportunity to come here and help celebrate 50 years of hip hop and to give that toast with CîROC is an honor. When I got into this [hip hop], I wanted to give to the culture that gave so much to me. It means the world to me because it’s given us space, an identity and permission to be ourselves,” she said.

The Hip Hop Museum tour kicked off in October in the genre’s birthplace of Brooklyn, featuring Lola Brooke, headed to Houston with new artist KenTheMan and Atlanta with Baby Tate.

While the other cities have solidified their stamp and sound within hip-hop, North Carolina has had a different relationship. Many artists from the area leave to find stardom in larger areas, but Rapsody chose a different path.

In 2011, she appeared in Mass Appeal’s Rhythm Roulette series, where the outlet traveled to Durham, N.C., to speak with producer 9th Wonder.

During the episode, Rapsody stole the show when she jumped in the booth and began freestyling. One of her lines, “I did it all without moving down to Atlanta,” represents the pride the rapper has in paving her own way in this industry even from an unknown place.

She explained, “I have this love and affinity for New York, and I always wanted to live there for many reasons, but one of the reasons was because when I first fell in love with hip hop, that’s all I saw. But when I got with 9th [9th Wonder], he said, ‘We don’t have to go. We can stay here and show them what North Carolina is,’ and that was such a dope moment, especially when you’re coming from a place that didn’t impact hip hop at the time. Artists think they have to go to Atlanta or LA, but you can stay where you are and tell your story.”

Born in the small town of Snow Hill, N.C., Rapsody chose to stay to be the example she never had.

“I get to walk around, meet people, go to my hometown, and show people that anything you dream of is possible,” she said.

The Hip Hop Museum Tour is a small preview of what enthusiasts can expect when the brick-and-mortar location opens in 2025 in the Bronx, providing a space for audiences, artists and technology to converge, creating unparalleled educational and entertainment experiences around the hip-hop culture of the past, present and future.

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