By Will Udo
Who is Laila is you ask? And what is this wisdom she supposedly holds and attains? Well, it is I, her Wonderful Wisdom here to provide you with a touching sense of wit and a glimpse of the internal intuition of Marlanna Evans. Born at the height of the crack-cocaine era in the ’80s with all the other crack babies. K.Dizzle, Drizzy, Rih, and the rest of those suckas. These days she’s under the rap alias “RAPSODY.” Agh, it’s good to see that she is still in good use of wordplay and double entendres. Take note and peep into my windowpane as I try to paint you a plain picture of Laila’s distinctive dome, Laila’s lyrical home. We’ll take a look at some of the tracks that I think, in a way, have become instrumental to her not only as an artist, but have also helped shaped her into a limitless being.
“I remember when y’all used to call me ugly. Isn’t it ironic now they all just wanna love me?” It all began with this feeling and sense of internal insecurity within the adolescence of I, Laila. Being a young, black girl in a white man’s world throughout the experiences of my upbringing always centralized and came back to me feeling like I was “Black and Ugly.” From here, I began to profoundly introspect. I questioned who I was really rocking with and what was truly within me, just trying to make sense of everything I was seeing and feeling. This was the building block and birth of what my omniscient wisdom would amount to. Picture this, a young Marlanna rolling the streets of Snow Hill, Carolina. Chunky and curvy, but cunning and colorful. Even as a child, I always knew that the reflection & hue of my own skin and the plumpness of my bodily features never fully illuminated and represented what was going on within me and the full mechanism of my being. All I needed was to realize “it” for myself, that I was already everything I wanted and strived to be, I just needed a conscious confidence. So when she mentions, “Confidence of a porn star / the day I cut the horns off,” meaning she is eliminating those inner demons, if you may, and speaking for a larger group of people who have dealt with this thought or feeling. Still, if you don’t believe my almost accurate primary source of memory, I have a light snippet of video footage* from the nth-dimension of her in some silly interview trying to footnote and explain what she meant by her writings that I will add later on this mystic mental detour. I must also mention to you that as her inner intuition, time is both of no concern to me and most certainly isn’t linear.
This brings me to my next point, “POWER.” All my life I’ve felt completely and utterly powerless. This is why I, as her witty wisdom, believe she pulled upon two masterminds who both understand the concept of power and hold a bit of it themselves. From the generous goodfellas of the Top Dawg Entertainment record label, she was able to link up with Kendrick Lamar and Lance Skiiiwalker. What do Kendrick, Lance and Rapsody all have in common, you ask? Apart from being poster crack-cocaine ‘80s babies, they all know what it takes to attain a certain sense of real power and how easily it is to be misused and abused by some certain groups or individuals. For more information on useful tactics, contact the employees of the Ronald Reagan Era. They will surely provide you with an array of ways on how to do so through the feeling of fear. What is power to you and why does Laila have such an appetite for it?
“Pay Up! Pay Out!… Thought it would impress, picked her a bouquet / She only want new boots like Beyonce.” Oh Marlanna, what have you evolved to? It seems you’ve not only firsthand seen the effects of gold-digging, but you yourself have maybe somehow gotten caught up in that whole scenery. The game is tricky, be carefully cautious and beware of those trying to suck the well dry. Hmmm, I see you boo. ‘Gon head and secure the bag no matter the price tag. Some careful advice to include: The game is daunting and definitely tricky. Be carefully cautious and beware of those trying to suck the well dry and take advantage of your kind soul. We’ve worked too hard for this, but in the end I can’t help that you just wanna be ‘Ridin.’ Despite it all, I am incredibly proud of you for making something of your past predicament Marlanna. Little did Laila know, you would turn all the way up. Having Busta Rhymes on the bridge of this track (Ridin’) looping the riff, “Turn me up some! 10th Decibel … just a little more!” only further proves that you are in fact “all the way turnt up” as our hip-hop friends Roscoe & Soulja would say. You having Busta on this joint with that ad-lib is just a little more updated and sexier way of saying it. I’m really ecstatic at the fact that she somehow got Busta on that “You should Know” joint as well; she’s always admired him and his whole persona. That sampled intro, plus the claves, her fiery bars, and then the smooth Busta verse transition turns my inner ears – I can’t get enough of it.
Speaking of smooth transitions, Marlanna sounds like she is certainly standing in a real love predicament. She elicits smooth, neo-soul hemisphere-type tracks with amazing angel voice-like features ranging from of Musiq Soulchild & Gwen Bunn on the track “A Rollercoaster Jam Called Love.” She also recruits the help of fellow neo-soulquarians Terrace Martin on the track “U Used 2 Love Me,” BJ the Chicago Kid on “Knock On My Door,” and the silky-smooth vocals from none other than Anderson.Paak (and please don’t forget the dot, you paid for it) on “OooWee.” Pairing this with her humble hip-hop subject matter is something I could’ve never seen her accomplishing on a sophisticated art piece like this; I love it. I had the feeling that she always knew and had a positive gut-feeling or hunch for certain things. With every move she was making, even if some of it might’ve been questionable at the time, she was decisive, precise, and distinctive in her actions.
Furthermore, throughout her personal journey Marlanna was definitely able develop her own understanding of the world and gain a strong sense of wisdom and knowledge from endless life lessons. Not only was she able to do that, but she certainly has mastered her creative craft. Her vivid storytelling, rhyme ability, conceptual understanding, and thrilling metaphors only further prove to me why she is a leading emcee in this corny, illusional “rap game.”
The last track on this LP I think finally explains to me, her Witty Wisdom, why she identifies and performs under the alias “RAPSODY.” Remember when I mentioned that she has always been great at playing with words and giving them double-meaning? Well, the literal definition of “rhapsody” is “a piece of music that is meant to express a lot of emotion and does not have a regular form.” By going under this alias, I believe she is capturing and executing what I always subconsciously intended to do: to be expressed at a high level through a strong personal medium. It’s a dream for me to see her take something intangible from the inside and effectively lay it on the outer external world. All of this took place despite and regardless of her being a female. She disproves all the nay-sayers with the essence of her work. Being signed to ROC Nation, and rocking with 9th Wonder on Jamla Records probably has its perks. I’m sure Marlanna has gotten tons of Jay and other musical insights (please read this at exactly 4:44), but she is naturally a true gemstone and this joint only further proves that she is expressive and bright as ever. At the same time, she is trying to understand her own moment-to-moment reality and all of the pain and other mishaps along the way. I really feel her getting this out on the later tracks on this piece. A truly fierce emcee on an electric LP, full of supersonic phonics and as her Inner Intuition, I claim that Laila’s wisdom is fully justified and far from being ironic.
Somewhere in the far future where time is of no real concern and deep retrospective reflection has taken place over past previous moments:
Lineage. Certain characteristics and personality traits that are passed from caregiver to offspring. In the case of Marlanna Evans, in retrospection, I as her Intuition gave myself a little too much credit for her external successes. Yes, I am a viable and important part of her creative process and understanding of the world, but I am not all there is to the bigger picture. I did not take into account those that would help her along her personal journey. As an Intangible Internal Process, I have fallen short of everything I set out to be, everything I set out to do. I now understand that this is most certainly bigger than just me. You humans are innately and inherently attached to your humanly relations, for lack of a better term. You hold and cherish those synergetic, interpersonal relationships to an almost sickening point, but I don’t completely blame you all. The lifelong and spiritual effects of the knowledge, wisdom, and insight taken from these relationships turn out to encompass a person as a full and complete being with real experiences. Also, this is where inspiration, guidance, and instructive counseling come into play. In Marlanna’s case, the lifelong wisdom she has been able to attain was not solely created and made by her or any Intuitive Internal Process. Her way was paved by previous persistent predecessors in her family lineage who were able to overcome and surpass obstacles she herself may have not been able to at the time.
This sensationalism all began with Marlanna’s mother’s mother, Laila, whom I stem from. Marlanna is one of the 150 grandchildren who received this grand and incredible, complex, and collective wisdom. She has used this as the basis for her understanding of the world and all its multifaceted aspects. Whether it be her meeting and working with 9th Wonder in 2005 (which really popped things off), conscious and consistent talks with Common, getting Jay’s blessings, truthful tales from Talib, or the immense admiration from Dr. Dre, it opened up an entirely new lane of possibility. All the experiences, the relationships, the mergers, the insight, the success, the love. It all stems from “Big Momma” – Laila’s Internal, but eternal, Wisdom. For me, the hardest thing for my Intuition’s pride is to call unto intellect to correct an assumption or observation that I have made. This whole uncovering has been an enlightening journey and has taught me the lessons of assuming less and truth-checking more. If you find yourself doing this, it’s okay. Move on and do better than I did; it might be slightly difficult (or not) me being intangible and untouchable and all. Anyways, to another nth-dimension of limitlessness and wonder, my internal processes shall travel. I’ll catch up with you when you’ve caught up with me.
Edited by Owen Brock, Elena Cruz, and Elorm Nutakor