If any rapper has been up-and-coming for their due time to shine, it’s been Rapsody. With her fantastic verses on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly and Anderson .Paak’s Malibu, both artists to feature here on Laila’s Wisdom, she was already on everyone’s watch list, even landing a spot on Roseandblog’s 2016 Freshman Class. Her mixtape Crown, which definitely didn’t lack in conviction, fell a bit due to construction and definitive flow, but choice gems such as “Gonna Miss You” and “OooWee,” the latter of which appears here again as track 13, really showcased Rapsody’s potential.
On what is technically her second studio album, Laila’s Wisdom, Rapsody dispels any and all doubts of any nature, as her straight-forward flow stomps through some of the best hip-hop production since To Pimp A Butterfly. It’s a connection that largely fits due to similarities in personnel, as Kendrick and Terrance Martin both feature prominently, but the real honor goes to the legendary and soulful producer 9th Wonder, most known for his work with Little Brother, Erykah Badu, Jay-Z, and Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN.-ending track “Duckworth.” With the boom-bap of “Black and Ugly” mixed in with the gritty “Power,” jazzy “Knock on my Door,” bouncy “Pay Up,” and RZA-like wild-west-samurai hip-hop of “You Should Know,” 9th Wonder connects a vivid and versatile track listing that any rapper would kill for.
The features as well, before we even get to Rapsody, are all amazing. Just like how artists show up for some of their best material on Kanye West records, there really isn’t a dud here on the whole album, as an unlikely feature such as GQ provides one of the best verses on the entire record on “Ridin’.” With a rounded-out cast of BJ the Chicago Kid, Busta Rhymes, Black Thought, the previously mentioned Kendrick Lamar, Anderson .Paak, Terrace Martin, and more, the record is star-studded to say the least, with my Crystal Pepsi friend, Busta Rhymes, calling it the best hip-hop record he’s heard in the last ten years.
Rapsody isn’t the most diverse when it comes to flow or inventive rhythmic variety, as she mainly has a one-track mind that occasionally impresses with a complex rhyme scheme, but with such an amazing team and production behind her, it supports her single flow and delivery as best as any artist could ask for. On Laila’s Wisom, Rapsody finally sounds demanding on the mic, something she’s struggled to do with her solo material in the past, and I think it’s due to the strong and collaborative support base she’s gathered over the years. I included her in my conversation for the new Queen of Rap back in April, and now with beautifully defining tracks like “Black & Ugly,” “Power,” “Sassy,” and “Nobody,” she might’ve just snatched the crown.
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