DUBAI: Grammy-nominated US rapper Rapsody has revealed the inspiration behind her stage name as she prepared to perform on Saturday at the Sole DXB event in Dubai.
The 39-year-old, whose real name is Marlanna Evans, told Arab News that American rapper Jay-Z was one of the many musical figures that had influenced her rise to stardom.
She said: “When Jay-Z was a kid, he wanted to expand his vocabulary, so he would read the dictionary. I was just getting into writing my first few raps and was like, I’m going to read the dictionary too.
“I was in the R section, and I came across rhapsody, meaning poetry spoken with great emotion. And that’s how I perceive music and hip hop: It’s poetry in rhythm. I was like, that’s how I’m going to call myself. I just took out the H and tried to make it my own.”
Rapsody will be visiting Dubai and the UAE for the first time to take part in the Sole DXB lifestyle and street-culture festival.
“I’m always inspired when I hear music from different regions and countries, especially the culture of hip hop that’s travelled the world and how different people interpreted it and made it their own.
“I want to know their stories: What’s it like to live in Dubai, what does your everyday look like, how do you celebrate? That excites me,” she added.
When Rapsody was growing up, she enjoyed soul music and was introduced to hip hop through her older siblings. Lauryn Hill, Queen Latifah, and MC Lyte were some of her favorite artists.
During her college years in North Carolina, she recorded her first song, in rap style, in a home studio. It was a turning point in her musical career when she decided to go fully into rap.
The lyrics of her music tap into personal and collective moments, from relationship heartbreak to police brutality.
She said: “I try to write from an honest perspective, whether it’s my story or stories around me. I live in a very present state. My inspiration is life.”
Her last record release was “Eve,” in 2019. Each track was named after influential black women, including tennis star Serena Williams, and former first lady of the US, Michelle Obama.
She is currently finishing up her new studio album, due for release in the new year.
Rapsody pointed out that there were several components that made up a memorable song.
“The beat must be good. You need hooks that people are drawn into … I think you need good lyrics that people can connect to,” she added.