Respect Culture: Exclusive Interview With Rapsody
“Respect Culture Over Everything” is the phrase that heads the website of North Carolina rapper Rapsody. That’s why unlike many female MCs that are accused of selling sex, Marlanna Evans sells dope rhymes over dope beats.
Signed to Jamla, the label of Grammy award-winning producer 9th Wonder, with features from hip hop veterans such as Big Daddy Kane, Rah Digga and Jean Grae, it seems the culture respects her back. A little while back I caught up with Rapsody to talk about Twitter, basketball, family and getting props from a former national champion.
2words The Top: Even when you get your props it’s as being one of the best amongst female rappers specifically. How much do accept always being compared to other females in the rap game?
Rapsody: I get it all the time, I get everybody from Jean Grae to MC Lyte to Lauryn [Hill], I got Da Brat. I’ve gotten so many people. To be named with artists like that you’re honored because those are artists I grew up listening to and I hold them in high regard. I think a lot of times they do that just because I am a female and they need another female to compare me to.
2words The Top: How important is your internet presence?
Rapsody: It’s 110%, 110 miles per hour, especially Twitter. We do what we call, excuse the phrase, Enigma from [rap duo] Actual Proof came up with it. It’s called “skeet tweeting,” where you do massive tweeting. So if I have a project out or a new song, like today I’m dropping a new video called “Extra Extra,” I tweet it out as much as possible and my labelmates, they jump in.
2words The Top: You and everybody that’s part of Jamla talks about it being more of a family it seems than a label, how do you maintain that family dynamic?
Rapsody: Communication. I think communication is the biggest part of any relationship whether it’s a family or a love relationship or just friends, it’s that communication. So we have fun and we goof around. We work hard, but we play hard too.
2words The Top: Where do you get your inspiration to continue growing as an artist?
Rapsody: My labelmates are definitely an inspiration. To have all those artists around you that are just as good or even better than you makes you always wanna keep going and keeps you hungry, just to keep up. Not so much for a negative competition, but it’s a way to help you grow and learn, so they definitely inspire me. And I used to play basketball so there’s a competitive part in me and it’s just me always wanting to get better. When I played basketball I was the first one in the gym for practice and the last one to leave. And some practices I would stay and practice with the JV team or the varsity team. So it’s just always wanting to get better and grow and create a legacy to have longevity in the game. That inspires me, and my nieces, I wanna be around long enough so that they’ll have music to listen to because I wanna be a role model for little girls.
2words The Top: Speaking of basketball, recently former Duke guard Nolan Smith has shown you a lot of love on Twitter. How does that support feel?
Rapsody: That’s crazy. I grew up a Duke fan, a big Duke fan. And to have someone like Nolan reach out and show support, and tweet and text to see how your tour’s going, that’s crazy to have someone of his stature care.
2words The Top: How was basketball a part of your life before you really got into your rap career?
Rapsody: Wow. I started playing ball when I was seven, seven or eight. I got into it because I have a younger brother, we’re a year apart, we’re really close, and my dad took my brother to basketball practice and he said ‘I don’t wanna play if Marlanna is not gonna play.’ So that’s how I got into it.
2words The Top: And you almost had the opportunity to play in college, right?
Rapsody: Right. At an all girls school by the name of Meredith College, they were looking to recruit me. But I wanted to go play for coach [Kay] Yow at NC State. I really wanted to play for Duke, but I was like I don’t know if I’m quite tall enough or good enough for Duke, maybe NC State. But that didn’t work out either. I played club at NC State a couple of years and after that it was all about the music.
2words The Top: As people get older they have to sacrifice some hobbies such as playing basketball, and for you recording and performing has to take up a lot of time. How do you keep basketball a part of your life?
Rapsody: Don’t laugh, but [laughs] when I’m at home sometimes I’ll get the trash can and I’ll make an aluminum ball and I’ll play trash can basketball. Or whether it’s me, 9th [Wonder], Jones, some people at the label, Kash, we went out and we were like you know we ain’t played ball in a long time. So for like three weeks we went and played ball everyday together for at least a couple of hours.
2words The Top: Any ambitions to branch out and do more than just rap?
Rapsody: Yea definitely in the future. I’d like to get into acting. I’m a big movie head and I think it would be fun to learn, possibly try. Writing children’s books, I love kids.Those are just a couple of things I’d like to do. Starting a non-profit organization and helping the community. Basketball camps for my hometown, Snow Hill, for the kids, you know, just to keep them out of trouble, and expose them to things they might not have seen in life.