Sunday Music: “Ibtihaj” by Rapsody (feat. D’Angelo and GZA)

Rapsody is a uniquely talented wordsmith at a time when the skill is less celebrated, less understood, but certainly not less relevant. She may be operating from a different musical value system, but she’s not just a throwback act poorly imitating the originators without anything new to say. Her new album, Eve, is closer to the Kendrick direction by including a higher and unifying concept to her work. In an era when the medium of the album seems to be fading away, those who make cohesive collections still have a case. Rapsody is making art with the utmost respect for her art form – this full album deserves a listen.

On “Ibtihaj” she layers the name of American fencer, Ibtihaj Muhammad, on a reprise of GZA’s “Liquid Swords.” Producer Ninth Wonder deserves credit here too. If it’s not already apparent, the titles, the musical choices, and even the guests are all being played off of each other. Full disclosure, put D’Angelo on anything and I’ll listen, invite GZA too and I can’t resist. Both show up here and help put a spin on a beloved classic, even including more of the Willie Mitchell track “Groovin” that the original sample was based on. Lyrically, just spend some time on the Genius page and be impressed by all the things you missed. She’s got depth.

Last but not least – do see the video too. I need a pop-up video option, for everyone I recognize, I know how she works and that there must be ten others I’m clueless about. This song and everything around it is just too much fun.

The original “Liquid Swords”

The source sample, “Groovin” by Willie Mitchell

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