Rapsody has been on a roll since appearing on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly. Over the last year-and-change, she’s performed on The Tonight Show, delivered a Tiny Desk Concert for NPR and joined the house that Hov built (while still waving the Jamla Army flag). As 2016 draws to a close, the North Carolina emcee is capping off arguably the best year of her career with some of the best music in her catalog.
Following last week’s release of “Fire,” a rousing response to Donald Trump’s presidential victory and her first solo offering since signing to Roc Nation, Rapsody returns with another heat rock in the form of “2 AM.” Premiered by the good folks at 2DopeBoyz, “2 AM” is essentially three tracks in one.
Rapsody kicks things off with a verse about life in the late night streets, where you’re either eating or getting beat up. Like Nas looking out of his project window, Rapsody is merely an observer, not a participant, and is quick to recognize the patterns of self-destructive behavior: “My uncle had bad lungs and I hope my brother learned something / And he just tell me we gon’ die from something anyway.”
As 9th Wonder and Khrysis’ jazzy production plods along, TDE’s Ab-Soul enters the fray and extends his own hot streak with a typically crafty verse. “How am I so bright but my eyes so sensitive to the light? / That’s a balance you’ll never understand in your life / It’s like you never played Jenga or Life in your life / Or like you never met a n*gga that got life in your life.” More than just clever wordplay, though, Soulo kicks knowledge for his own homies running around in the streets: “I tried to tell Lo’ God, everybody got talent it’s just what you do with it that matters.”
Just like they did on “Fire,” 9th Wonder and Khrysis pull the rug from under our feet halfway through and lay down a new beat with crunchier drums and a woozy vocal sample. The switch-up doesn’t catch Rapsody out, though, as she switches up her flow seamlessly and spends the next minute going in on crooked cops and imaginary players.
Then, like a 5 3 Fingers of Death Freestyle, “2 AM” throws out another curve ball as 9th Wonder serves up a soulful, crispy beat reminiscent of his early work for Phonte and Pooh. Like Little Brother’s little sister, Rapsody steps up to the plate and hits it out the park: “I know we all just fornicating, there’s no debating my rating / Should be way up there with Lauryn’s.” All that’s missing is a "wack rappers" rant from Sway.
Thankfully, there’s more where “2 AM” came from. Rapsody has also dropped off another new track called “Mad,” while she’s spent all week on social media teasing what we're guessing is a new project called #WheresYourCrown. There's no question where Rapsody's crown is: on her head, where it belongs.
By Andy James. Follow him on Twitter.