Rapsody Talks Kendrick Lamar Collab, 'Complexion (Zulu Love)'


Rapsody Talks Kendrick Lamar Collab, 'Complexion (Zulu Love)'

"It's crazy," the Jamla signee says of the reaction to the To Pimp a Butterfly song leak.

Published March 16, 2015

In "an instant," Rapsody became the rapper du jour. Literally. The requests for an interview with her today, the day that Kendrick Lamar's sophomore album — one of the most anticipated albums in recent years — leaked, kept her almost too busy to take it all in.

And that's not lazy journo speak (everything's "anticipated" these days) according to social media.

Those who did get their ears on To Pimp a Butterfly a full week before its slated release took notice: Rapsody is the only female rapper on the album.

That she's a female is interesting, yes (though singer Anna Wise makes a return). But that she's a rapper is especially interesting, especially given the only other rapper besides Kendrick and K Dot is Snoop Dogg, The Doggfather; and especially given Kendrick Lamar's verse on "Control."

The Jamla signee (a label helmed by 9th Wonder) breaks down this important moment in her career in six questions with BET.com.


BET.com: Being on one of the most anticipated albums of the last two years, you've probably seen some serious drama in the trajectory of your career. What's been the most dramatic change you've experienced as an artist?

Rapsody: The biggest change thus far has been watching the reactions from all the people who have never heard me before today. That and the excitement of fans who have been listening long before "Complexion." It's crazy how in an instant a million people are discovering you at the same time. That's crazy. It comes fast.

How did you hook up with Kendrick?

I've known Kendrick for a few years, and he's always been a big supporter. We first worked together in 2011 on a song called "Rock the Bells" for a mixtape I released [For Everything]. This past January, he reached out for me to be a part of this album. It happened within a couple days or so. He called me on January 16 and told [me] the song title, I recorded it that same night and sent it back. Two months later, the world is listening to it.

We once spoke about you being labeled as a "femcee," and you've mentioned that, for example, in b-ball the playing field is different for men and women, but in hip hop there is no difference, no need for the label. Now, being the only female rapper on an album releasing during Women's History Month and in a climate where being called "feminist" is still controversial, how do you feel about the label?

I still think the title is irrelevant. We don't label men "male rappers." You can look at me and know I'm a woman, the same as I can look at guy rappers and know they are males. Labels like this only cause divide and instantly put females in a box. A box that says women in hip hop are different than men in skill and talent, and that just isn't true.

Why is the the TPAB track "Complexion (A Zulu Love)" important today?

"Complexion" is important today because we, Blacks, are still suffering the effects of slavery when it comes to colorism. There is divide within our culture between darker and lighter Blacks that says if you're lighter, you're thought to be smarter and more attractive. If you're darker, you're not as smart or beautiful. There are millions of Blacks around the world, not just here in America, who are purchasing bleaching cream to fit into the European standard of beauty. We have to love self and each other, and all know the beauty in all our shades. That starts with us initiating the conversation. Lupita Nyong'o addressed it with beautiful passion in her Essence speech. It's important for everyone still struggling with it today, and so the ones coming up hopefully won't have to deal with it.

You've worked with TDE before [Ab-Soul appeared on her debutThe Idea of Beautiful] and the likes of Big Daddy Kane, Erykah Badu and Jean Grae, and let's not forget about 9th. Who else are you looking forward to working with?

It's a honor to have had the opportunity to work with so many amazing artists already. But a few still on my list are Jay Z, Lauryn Hill, André 3000 and Mos Def.

We can hear that. What do you have planned for your own sophomore album?

I can't give away anything just yet, but we are working and I'm excited. You definitely can expect The Soul Council [listen to "The Man," "The Drums," "Godzilla," for example] to be handling a lot of the production.

To Pimp a Butterfly releases March 23 and is available for pre-order on iTunes now.

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(Photo: Creative Silence Photography)

Written by Johnika Barnes


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