By Jack M. Angelo, Senior Video Director
Rapsody has been making music for more than a decade now, but the 34-year-old North Carolina rapper rose to prominence in recent years by being the only featured rap verse on Kendrick Lamar’s opus To Pimp A Butterfly. This exclusivity gave the female spitter the opportunity to show off her incredible lyrical skill as well as sporadic, yet tight flow.
Since this publicity boost, Rapsody has been working hard, and in September 2017, she released her first album in five years, Laila’s Wisdom. The project, which heavily features Rapsody’s mentor, the legendary 9th Wonder, on production, is one of the best of the year, and was nominated for a Best Rap Album Grammy Award just days before this performance.
The Roc Nation artist is currently on tour supporting this project, and came to Baltimore Soundstage to share her craft with this charmed city. The mostly-chocolate crowd in this historically Black city arrived at the venue eager to hear some bars and beats from one of the best emcees in the game right now. Before that, however, the audience was treated to a slew of opening acts: GQ, Don Flamingo, and Deanté Hitchcock. All three performers rapped well and moved the crowd as much as they could.
The last opener, Hitchcock, seemed to move the crowd the most with his energetic performance. He danced, jumped around and even poured a few shots of Hennessey toward the end of his set for the audience, exclaiming, “I hope y’all over 21.”
Hitchcock’s performance was solid, and the crowd reasonably enjoyed it, but this audience was different than your average. While many are impressed by theatrics and high-energy performances, this group was here for rap, impressed by lyrics and flow, not jumping and dancing. They were made up of mostly older (for a concert audience, late 20s, 30s) people who preferred to listen and nod their head rather than scream and jump around.
When the headliner for the night took the stage, the audience got exactly what they had been waiting for all evening. Rapsody walked out in a large, puffy coat with the hood up, cloaking her small stature in a dark silhouette. Once the rapping began, however, she was anything but small or hidden. Her lyrics flowed forth quickly and passionately, leaving the audience impressed as well as with something to think about. The lyrical feats were rewarded with energy and applause from the audience. They were here for skill, and they were seeing it raw.
In addition to the incredible lyrical prowess on display, Rapsody also put on an amazing concert performance. At one point, she escorted a male member of the audience on stage and rapped to him while dancing with/on him. Later in the show, Rapsody brought up three female audience members to dance while she rapped her grammy-nominated song “Sassy.” The audience was most impressed, however, when Rapsody rapped her most lyrically dexterous feats, prompting loud cheers from the group gathered.
The only disappointing aspect of this show was the somewhat sparse audience. Baltimore Soundstage had some room left in the venue even during the headlining performance, the whole crowd being a few hundred at best. Rapsody is one of the most interesting and skilled emcees out there right now, and she deserves to be performing to thousands. She enthralled this audience, and hopefully the Grammy recognition will garner an even larger audience in the future.
Anyone who believes that “real rap” does not exist in this day and age is not looking hard enough, but they can start here.
These incredible photos from the Rapsody show at Baltimore Soundstage, in Baltimore, MD, on December 4, 2017, were taken by StayUp.News senior video director and photographer Jack M. Angelo:
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