On Sunday, January 28, Rapsody will attend the 60th Annual Grammy Awards as a nominee. Having won trophies for past feature contributions (Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly), the Roc Nation/Jamla MC is up for Best Rap Album for Laila’s Wisdom, the only woman in a category which also nominates JAY-Z, Kendrick Lamar, Migos and Tyler, The Creator. Rap’ recently sat down with Ambrosia For Heads founder Reggie Williams for a video interview ahead of the big day, but the Grammys were far from the only topic of discussion. In their conversation, Rapsody reveals for the first time in public the direct correlation between her critically acclaimed sophomore album and the 2000 sophomore album from Erykah Badu, Mama’s Gun.
Near the 8:00 mark, the two discuss the sonic inspirations behind the LP. “I don’t speak in music the same way as producers; I’m still trying to learn their language,” she says, when asked if there was a particular “sound” she had identified as her goal for Laila’s Wisdom. Rap’ says she put together a playlist of songs for inspiration, which she gave to 9th Wonder. On that playlist were tracks culled from Mama’s Gun, including “Time’s A Wastin” and “A.D. 2000.” She credits the soulful storytelling present on those records as the ingredient she most wanted to translate onto her own work and says Terrace Martin is the one responsible for “making that even bigger, so it sounded updated.”
A direct comparison between Mama’s Gun and Laila’s Wisdom is something Rap’ says she embraces. “People ask me, if I had to pick one album that’s my favorite of all time, that’s one of ’em,” she says of Badu’s classic. “I listen to that album so much at night and it goes through so many different emotions for me…that’s kinda how we wanted to mirror it. Even with the title of the project. Mama’s Gun inspired it. It’s short and sweet, but it says a lot.”
Rapsody also identifies elements of Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly as being present on that foundational playlist in addition to JAY-Z’s Black Album, Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, and “some Tribe Called Quest,” courtesy of 9th Wonder’s input.