She Got Game

Tireless Jamla representer Rapsody follows up her previous album, The Idea of Beautiful, by joining DJ Drama's legendary Gangsta Grillz series and unleashing She Got Game, along with a brand new deluxe version of the album (details below).

Featured on the project are stand out selections "Dark Knights," "Generation," "Never Know" and "Kingship." In addition to rhymes from the NC headliner, She Got Game features vocals from the likes of Ab-Soul, Jared Evan, Mac Miller, Terrace Martin, Wale and more, while production is handled by 9th Wonder, E. Jones, DJ Premier and others.

UPDATE: Fans and supporters can now cop the deluxe, no DJ version of She Got Game directly via The DJBooth. The deluxe version also boasts two bonus tracks, a new version of Lonely Thoughts with Big K.R.I.T., Money, not found on the original and two exclusive instrumentals, Thank You Very Much and Dark Knights. All files are high quality 320 kbps MP3s.

Comparisons can kill an artist. He or she sounds like him or her. He or she does this or that like him or her. Sure, those who came before influence each and every musician since the beginning of recorded music. Comparisons can help to clarify an artist’s sound, or refine a style. But in Rapsody’s case, a pure hip hopper out of Raleigh, North Carolina and an artist under 9th Wonder’s Jamla imprint, a comparison to a certain fellow female emcees would be doing her a major disservice. Rapsody and Lauryn Hill both lack Y-chromosomes and are beautiful African American women. Aside from that, a comparison to the almighty Lauryn Hill would pigeonhole Rapsody, and create unnecessary pressures that could crush her career. She Got Game, Rapsody’s first major project since her outstanding 2012 album, The Idea of Beautiful, establishes Rapsody as her own artist who has her own lane to fill.

She Got Game could technically be called a mixtape, but as is increasingly the case, it plays more like an album. It’s 16 tracks of pure Rapsody: all original, rhyming about the beautiful and dangerous sides of love, personal reflections and her impeccable mic skills, all over 9th Wonder and friends’ production. It all begins with A Song About Nothing, where she describes her “average news day”, which consists of unpacking, doing laundry and eating pizza. Rapsody is relatable, and that quality shines on the opener. She’s a real life documentarian to the umph degree. She also happens to flow like she had been rapping since she was in diapers, and pairs ultra descriptive and clever lyricism with personal nuggets and reflections in every verse on the project.

Lonely Thoughts is a collection of random streams of thought that’s lyrically dynamic and executed with top notch lyricism by Rapsody and guest Chance the Rapper. Rapsody’s verse is almost two minutes long, and manages to admit to not being perfect while also comparing herself to Action Bronson, Adele and Kobe Bryant. Chance has been on a tear lately, and turns in another would be show-stealing verse, but Rapsody is clearly the star of her own show, on this track and on the rest of the album. New comers and established greats alike show the emcee from Raleigh respect. Wale, Jay Electronica, Ab-Soul and Mac Miller represent for the new school, while Raekwon, Common and Phonte hold down the established vanguard. Rapsody manages to shine the brightest on each track regardless of who stops by.

Rapsody is undoubtedly the quiet girl next door who happens to be a deft and skilled emcee, but the success of this project hinges largely on the production. Label head and fellow Raleigh product 9th Wonder handles duties on seven of sixteen songs, while Denaun Porter, Khrysis, DJ Premier and a few others handle the rest. As is expected from 9th Wonder and those from under his tutelage, each instrumental contains an abundance of soul. The background coos in Coconut Oil. The sample laid over crisp drums in the Common featured Feel Like (Love Love). The breezy vocal sample and light keys in Complacent. The production is phenomenal throughout, and much of its appeal is rooted in soul samples and the jazzy, cool atmosphere the producers invoke. That being said, a variation in sound and content would have benefitted the mixtape as a whole. It’s refreshing to hear a rap artist tackle love and all of its peaks in valleys in such an articulate way, but hearing a love song over a dusty soul beat starts to tire towards the end, though closer Jedi Code with Phonte and the fabled Jay Electronica over a 9th Wonder beat is a hip-hop head's fantasy, and more than manages to please.

DJ Drama states in the intro, “she got game, better yet, she got the game”, and he couldn’t be more accurate. If rap was a basketball game, Rapsody may not be on the highlight tape, but she’s who I’m giving the rock to in the final seconds. She delivers. No frills, all skills. If her fans and the media (not to mention herself) can neglect to make the easy and shallow comparisons to L Boogie, Rapsody will stay satisfying ears from NC to NY, from Beijing to Brazil. Her rap peers may be made of the same meat and bones as her, but they don’t come off quite as human as her. She’s Kevin Durant in the fourth quarter. She’s a burrito from Chipotle. She’s the sun in Southern California. She’s reliable and consistent. Now those are comparisons I’m more than OK with making.

DJBooth Rating - 4 Spins

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