Rapsody On Coexisting In Rap’s Power Gap

In music and the culture it reflects, 2017 was predictably unpredictable: idols fell, empires shook, consensus was scarce. This conversation is one of five with artists, makers and thinkers whose work captured something unique about a chaotic year, and hinted at bigger revelations around the bend.

On the morning I call Rapsody, two weeks before her album Laila’s Wisdom is to be nominated for a best rap album Grammy, she’s still in bed after a late night putting in work at the recording studio in Raleigh, N.C. “I usually get a little tea and honey to start my day,” she says. It doesn’t strike me as the makings of a typical power breakfast. Then again, Rapsody has become quite adept at challenging how power is perceived in 2017.

With Laila’s Wisdom — her sophomore album and first since partnering with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, named for a grandmother who insisted on getting her flowers while she was alive to smell them — Rapsody conveys a dimensionality that’s rare in a genre where flat characters abound. She rhymes tough but tender, philosophical and flirtatious, vulnerable yet aggressive, both in and out of love, while remaining lyrical at every