Many fans will spend time online dissecting each and every line from a rapper’s project in which they discuss intimate matters within their life. Somehow, many fans will also forget that these artists have lives and things to look forward too beyond the studio. In short, they are people. They are human. In many ways, the experiences they have outside of the studio inspire what we hear between our earbuds. Travis Scott is someone’s father, Cardi B is someone’s mother, 21 Savage is someone’s son, Pusha T is someone’s younger brother and so and so forth. For Rapsody, the same is true. She is someone’s sister, daughter, niece and much more.
In the second segment of our interview with her, she discusses her grandparents, maintaining a balance within her work and personal life and much more.
A few years after Return of the B-Girl, The Idea of Beautiful came out. One of the songs off that project that stuck with me was “How Does It Feel”. The reason it stuck with me is that you spoke from the perspective of being an older sibling and wanting to protect your younger siblings. Being the youngest in my family, when I heard that song, it reminded me of my older brother speaking to me and wanting to protect me. How do you navigate being a full-time artist and managing your relationships with your siblings and the rest of your family?
First, I’ve got to compliment you. You are a great interviewer. You’ve asked me questions that no one has asked me before. I want to say thank you for bringing that up and recognizing that song. That’s one of my favorite joints.
It’s a balance that I’m still learning and I’m going to continue to learn how to do every day as the demands on me as an artist continue to grow. In the early days, it was a lot easier because I put more pressure on myself to be great. I wasn’t being demanded to be here or there. I didn’t necessarily have a choice to say yes or no.
In the earlier days, I was just putting in my 10,000 hours, perfecting my craft and putting out mixtapes. This was a time when I wasn’t touring a whole lot. I would do a show here and maybe a show there.
I had the freedom to create my own schedule. I had to ask myself what can you live with and what can you not. That was the balance I had.
I made sure that I answered every phone call I got from my family. I think that’s something that will never change no matter how busy I get. If it’s my mom, dad or my brother, I’m going to answer the phone. If I can’t, I’m going to always call them back. There are some people that I may not be able to immediately hit back and I can live with that, but when it comes to my phone, I’ll always try to answer unless I’m really busy or I’m in an emergency. I’ll always make sure that I communicate with them. That’s a number one rule for me.
Earlier on, there would be situations where I had to make a choice. My grandmother turned 100 years old and we had a huge celebration, but I had to make a choice because I had something to do. I could go or I could miss [the celebration] because I had to work. In the end, I chose the work. I had to think like my great grandmother’s 100 years old and I’ve seen her my whole life. She doesn’t even want to have this party. I think she’ll understand. She’s had 100 birthdays. If I miss this one, I think she’ll be ok. Those are the type of things I’ll reason to myself. I have to tell myself that it’s ok to miss this one for people that you love a lot and have given a lot to. It’s ok to miss this one for a larger goal.
“You may think that you’re missing opportunities, but opportunities will always come back around if you put the work in and continue on the right path. That’s what I focus on. That’s what creates the balance that I need.”
Now, I’m having this tour and I’m on the road for two months. I spent almost the whole summer in New York promoting the album. Unfortunately, I missed a lot. I don’t get to see my parents as much. That’s a hard balance. At certain points, you just have to say, “I haven’t seen my mom in two weeks, so I’m blocking off this day. This is the day that I’m giving to myself. You have to understand that.”
My mom once told me something that has stuck with me forever. When I was working at Foot Action, there may have been days when I didn’t feel well. She would tell me that you only get one mind and you only get one body. When you leave this world, everything continues. The world doesn’t stop. That just let me know that it’s ok to turn down gigs or other opportunities to work on yourself. It’s just up to me to decide when those days are and that’s just something that I hold close to me. You may think that you’re missing opportunities, but opportunities will always come back around if you put the work in and continue on the right path. That’s what I focus on. That’s what creates the balance that I need.
Earlier, you mentioned your great grandmother. On your last album, Eve, you named all of the tracks after specific women that had an impact on your life. What impact has your great grandmother had on your life and ability to create music?
I would have to put all of my grandparents in that discussion. Not only my great grandparents [have impacted me], but I’d include my mom’s mom and my dad’s mom. They’ve impacted me through their strength and resolve. As you grow older, you learn about the stories you weren’t privy to as a kid. You learn about things that your grandparents went through and had to deal with. When you learn these things, it makes you go back and realize they really went through a lot.
Right now, I’m thinking about my great grandmother. Her story is crazy. I think both of her parents died young. At the age of 11, she was the oldest of her siblings, so she had to step up and be mom and dad. She had to help get them ready for school, help tend to the fields and feed them.
When you hear stories about your grandparents and the harder times that they went through, it just shows you who you came from and how strong they are. It also shows you how strong you can be and inspires you to live a life that they can be proud of. That’s how they inspire me. On the days that are hard, I can just sit back and say that it’s not as hard as they had it. Never feel bad about yourself. Never give up and never quit.
Spiritually, they inspire me too. [They inspire me to] go and find the truth. Be close to your higher God, whomever you may call. In that force or energy, that’s where a lot of peace and direction comes from. On the right side of peace and vibration, I relieve a lot of stress from my heart. I think those are the most important ways.
It shows how important family is. That family may not just be your blood relatives, but also your community. As an artist, that is something I learned from grandparents. They always had an open door for everyone in their community. They helped people in the neighborhood that needed clothes or food. They taught me about loving people, being there for people, standing up for people and how important community is. At a base level, those are the most important things I learned from grandparents, great grandmother and everybody else in my family.
Check back tomorrow for the third and final segment of our interview with North Carolina’s own, Rapsody. During part three, the North Carolina native dives deeper on her album, discusses North Carolina’s emerging Hip-Hop scene and talks about the idea of retirement in rap. Not to mention, she shares more info about her promotional campaign with Door Dash.