With her third major label album Eve on the way, Rapsody puts her own twist on a hip-hop classic for the album’s lead single, “Ibtihaj” featuring D’Angelo and The GZA of Wu-Tang Clan. Borrowing a sample of The GZA’s seminal “Liquid Swords” courtesy of 9th Wonder, Rapsody celebrates Olympic fencing bronze medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad, who was the first Muslim woman to wear a hijab while representing the United States at the Olympics.
The hook, which again draws from “Liquid Swords,” evokes “silk tie caps” — du-rags, in common parlance — to point out how hair and accessories tied to it are so important to Black people and only just beginning to find acceptance in mainstream culture (check out the “wave check” portion of the “Strictly 4 My…” episode from Grown-ish for a prime example). Rap also name-checks specific figures in hip-hop whose identities were tied to their hairstyles, like Lady Of Rage, whose afro puffs were the linchpin of her biggest single.
The GZA also drops a verse explaining that “An MC should electrify, beautify, strive to / Empower, inspire, transform a world view,” which seems to be exactly what Rapsody aims to do with Eve. The overarching theme of the upcoming album is celebrating influential Black women.
Eve set for release on August 23 via Roc Nation and Def Jam Recordings.