Music

A Look at the Lyrics: Rapsody’s ‘Laila’s Wisdom’

Y’all, Marianna Evans, aka Rapsody, is one of the most under-rated artists in my opinion. At a time when Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow” is dominating the air waves, there are also some other black female rappers who are coming for the throne.  The 29- year-old rapper reigns from Snow Hill, North Carolina. She released her second studio album on September 22, 2017.

The album is named after Rapsody’s maternal grandmother, Laila. Her grandmother would always say, “You came to give grandmother her flowers”. This connects directly to the image of the young girl who has a halo of flowers floating behind her head on the cover of the album. Her grandmother’s quote is a metaphor. Similar to how one wants to give someone else their flowers while they are still here on Earth and can smell them, Rapsody’s grandmother equates the flowers to one’s time, love, and energy. You want to be sure to give that to people before they die, and while you still have them in your life. That’s what Rapsody hopes to do with hip-hop. She wants to give people their flowers through her music, while she has an audience.

 Aside from focusing on the release of her album, Rapsody made time to do an interview with CNN in which she was asked about her feelings towards today’s political climate. In the interview, Rapsody stated, “… he really took the sheep off the wolf or he removed the curtain, and it’s like this really is America…” in regards to Trump’s presidency. Her social awareness also transcends into her music. Not abiding by the popular trap music style today, her conscious rap tackles her experiences as a black woman in America who is pursuing a career in rap.

Now, a look at some of the lyrics…

“You gon be the difference between

McDonald’s, Burger Kings and Whole

Foods” – “Laila’s Wisdom”

 Analysis: McDonald’s and Burger Kings are fast food giants, while Whole foods is known for being organic and sustainable. You buy groceries there to last you the entire week. I perceive this to be a metaphor for rap in the music industry. You have “fast rap” where artists are basically making music just put it out there and hoping that they’ll have a hit, but then a couple years later you don’t know where they are or what they’re doing. For example, what’s Fetty Wap up to??? On the other hand, you have artists like Jay-Z and Kanye who have made sustainable, long-lasting classics and hits. They could even be called the Whole Foods of the rap world, while they’re surrounded by a whole bunch of fast food. Rapsody is trying to say that she hopes to be here for the long run, maybe even another Whole Foods.

“Power up with the word

I got it from my God

He said a good shepherd don’t trip over

What they heard” – “Power”

 Analysis: There is definitely some wordplay going on with the word “heard” in this lyric. Is she talking about physically hearing or a shepherd’s herd? When listening to the song, you can’t tell. It can really be interpreted either way. A good shepherd is responsible for their flock of sheep. If we equate the good shepherd to being Jesus, then we could say that she’s referring to the idea that Jesus wasn’t trippin’ over what others were saying about him, and similarly she is not trippin’ over what others say. If we look at it from the context of her talking about a herd of sheep, then she could be saying that one can’t allow others around them to trip them up because a good shepherd knows what they’re doing.

“Beatin me your odds look better bettin’

Lt. Dan could walk water

Barefoot, runnin’ with Forest chasing a

Van” – “Nobody”

 Analysis: This is a reference to the renowned, Forest Gump, film. Forest serves in the Vietnam War under Lt. Dan. Later in the war, Lt. Dan has to get both of his legs amputated. Rapsody is saying that you have a better chance of seeing Lt. Dan walk on water than you have at beating her in a rap battle.

 “My hair don’t look natural so they

question my blackness

Rachel got over, Guess that’s a fucked up

Standard” – “Black and Ugly”

 Analysis: Rapsody is asking people to consider what they define as blackness, and to un-pact those definitions. Simply because she doesn’t wear her hair in its natural state, she is not deemed as black enough by some in the black community. Yet, we all remember how Rachel Dolezal duped us all by passing as a black woman because of her curly hair. It wasn’t until her parents revealed that she was indeed a white woman that she was denounced for claiming a race that isn’t her own.

 

 

Shiloah Coley is a sophomore and proud Chicago Posse Scholar. A declared art major, she enjoys being able to synthesize her love for visual art and writing in any way possible. As a journalist, she is currently focusing on Black culture. However, in the future she aspires to take a more in depth look at global human rights and how black culture impacts the black communities around the world.

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