Hip-hop is notorious for being overwhelmingly male-dominated. For the past decade, North Carolina native Rapsody has been working diligently in underground circles to nurture her solo career.
Clocking in at an hour and five minutes long spread out over 14 tracks, Laila’s Wisdom miraculously avoids the curse of feeling long-winded. Each track serves a purpose, providing insight into Rapsody’s life, experiences and wisdom and crafting elaborate stories with serious emotional punch. Finally coming into her own, Rapsody’s sense of confidence matched with a renewed vigor in her delivery makes this album a serious force to be reckoned with.
Laced with double entendres, Rapsody makes most rappers’ efforts look like child’s play — no easy feat considering her competition. One of Laila’s Wisdom’s most impressive accomplishments is Rapsody’s ability to not only shine on new levels, but to do so surrounded by spectacular guest features from Kendrick Lamar, Black Thought, Busta Rhymes, Anderson .Paak and a slew of other talented artists. Despite a stacked roster, Rapsody is the true star throughout the album — never being eclipsed by the others.
Released under Jamla Records, Laila’s Wisdom is flooded with smooth vocals and silky, innovative instrumentals. Elements of the jazz-infused instrumentals found across Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly — a project on which Rapsody was the only rapper with an actual verse — can be found sprinkled across 9th Wonder’s production.
Clear highlights are without a doubt the lyrically dense exchanges between Kendrick Lamar and the North Carolina native on “Power.” In a similar vein, “Nobody” featuring Anderson .Paak, Black Thought and Moonchild serves as an incredibly rewarding halfway point on the record. Marked by .Paak’s buttery voice, beat switch ups and a Black Thought verse that, like every Black Thought verse, leaves the listener’s jaw on the floor.
A triumphant debut under a new partnership with Roc Nation alongside Jamla Records, Rapsody’s second full-length studio album is one that has the potential to go down as one of the most impressive bodies of work to come out this decade. This album deserves the utmost respect and your devoted attention.