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Rapsody Brings GZA, Mary J. And Roxanne Shante Out To Play. Seriously.


CATCH THE WAVE: Rapsody returns with her third full-length, <em>Eve</em>, on August 24.
YouTube Screenshot by NPR, Courtesy of the artist

CATCH THE WAVE: Rapsody returns with her third full-length, Eve, on August 24.

Rapsody is not playing with us. (Disclaimer: She. Never. Was.) And from the looks of the first video from her forthcoming studio album, Eve (out Aug. 23), anyone confused about that point is about to be thoroughly corrected.

The single "Ibtihaj" is named in honor of the United States national fencing team member Ibtihaj Muhammad, who became the first Muslim American woman to wear a hijab while representing the U.S. during the 2016 Olympics. The title is perfect for a song about fearlessly representing oneself. The video is a great look, too. It features Muslim women donned in stylish, colorful hijabs while catwalking the streets of New York as well as cameos from the first lady of rap, Roxanne Shante, and enduring queen of hip-hop soul, Mary J. Blige.

Like the song, which stunts a rare feature from D'Angelo on the hook and Wu-Tang's GZA over a revamp of his "Liquid Swords" classic, the visual vibe is a hybrid of '90s true school and new millennium cool. As such, it's the perfect palette for the video's creative direction Misa Hylton, whose unmistakable touch was the hallmark of early Bad Boy and Uptown Records visuals, back when she was known for giving artists ranging from Jodeci to Mary J. Blige their ghetto-fab stylistic identity.

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As Rap rocks knee-length braids while holding her own next to the iconic GZA, it's easy to identify the roots of her own pedigree. The album Eve will celebrate women of color, with each song from the yet-to-be-released track list named for a legendary black female, according to a press statement: "The stories behind the songs on Eve are inspiring, and I wanted to do my part in celebrating these women in the best way I know how," Rapsody states.

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