Rapsody at The Workman’s Club, Dublin on Tuesday 6th March 2018
North-Carolina MC Rapsody possesses one of rap’s most powerfully potent pens, stretching from altruistic verses packed with valuable life lessons to tightly written explorations of power and self-love.
Tonight, backed on the decks by regular collaborator and one of the genre’s most venerable producers, 9th Wonder, she leads a hip-hop show masterclass.
For content that leans towards the lazily used conscious-rap tag—a cop-out to describe hip-hop with lyrical depth—the crowd receive every drum-kick, every bar, each two-step shuffle, with rapture.
Known for knotty rhyme schemes and inventive wordplay, she’s at once a show-woman and a technically gifted rap master.
Unspooling such dense lyricism in a live setting is far from straightforward, and although she flows elegantly throughout, she opts to break up the tracks with conversation, nuggets of hip-hop history and a generally infectious enthusiasm.
High-points are the bludgeoning verses of beat-switching jewel Chrome, the towering set-ending performance of ‘Laila’s Wisdom’ hit Power and breathless freestyle-type punchline rhymes over A Tribe Called Quest hits Check The Rhime and Electric Relaxation. “You on point, 9th,” she incants, paying homage to the late Phife Dawg.
She presents a full-blooded take on her now famous Complexion verse from ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ — one of hip-hop’s most cathartic guest verses this decade — her cadence and flow as formidable as the album version.
Peppered throughout are invitingly warm crowd interactions — her effervescent personality rings true as clearly as in her music. The Roc Nation signee is visibly taken aback by the reception, saying Dublin has, without question, been the “livest” tour-stop yet. “I don’t know if I’ll leave.”
“You can stay at my house,” an audience member shouts back to her. “You got ESPN?” Rapsody queries with a wide-grin.
Later, the single men are asked to raise their hands and an initially cautious male fan is forced to the stage. “They call me Rapsody, you can call me Ms. Stevens,” she says in a faux-seductive tone, beckoning him to slow dance to a now oozing soul instrumental.
They dance, and grind, the fan bewildered. It’s a touching moment in a night frequented by moments of communal beauty – Rapsody firmly believes in the human-spirit, above all, as a guiding light for progress.
She later invites girls from the crowd onstage to dance alongside her for most adventurously fun track in years, Sassy.
“I do it out of a supreme love of hip-hop, But, I also do it for her, her, her. Don’t tell them I’m a female rapper, a femcee, I’m a motherfucking beast,” she says of her motivations, with fiery conviction.
It speaks of her outlook on her craft—which is part self-expression, part competitiveness—but, mostly, to make a true impact on hip-hop culture which she sweats, bleeds, and, most importantly, spits.