When Rapsody and Kendrick Lamar first collaborated on Kendrick’s To Pimp A Butterfly track “Complexion,” their partnership sparked a friendship that led to even more collaborative work and changed the trajectory of Rapsody’s rap career.
In an interview with late-night legend Larry King, Rapsody explained what it was like competing with Kendrick for the Best Rap Album Grammy (for her 2017 major label debut, Laila’s Wisdom) and just what makes Kendrick’s music so special. She also addressed the impact the Grammy nomination for Best Rap Album has had on her life and will have for women in rap, and the effect of turbulent times (through the lens of Donald Trump’s tumultuous presidency) have on music.
“It’s good to compete with your friends,” Rapsody says of facing off with Kendrick over the Best Rap Album Grammy. “You can compete, but in a healthy way.” She says the trait that makes her friend and collaborator so special is his “honesty,” elaborating, “He has no fear. He’s himself. He doesn’t chase anything but what he sees in the mirror.” While at least one song on his most recent album, DAMN., may contradict that statement a bit, his readiness to write about his insecurities and uncomfortable truths has been praised by more than one critic over the years.
Rapsody also expressed a desire that more women could experience her level success when it comes to hip-hop. As the only woman nominated for Best Rap Album, she says, “It’s bittersweet. I wish that more women could be put in categories with men, and don’t get saved for ‘This is the best female in rap.'” She says that women “can compete with men and are just as good as men.”
Of the fraught political climate, she believes that turbulent times can bring people together. “I think the best music is made with a bunch of people,” she says, hoping that the divisions between mainstream and underground can be broken down to bring unity to the culture.