“You didn't leave your home without your crown, did you?” This is what Rapsody inquired of the crowd when she stepped onstage at the second Tidal and Roc Nation event at Sennheiser's pop-up store in SoHo, a follow up to the “New Sounds of New York” show featuring performances by local up-and-comers who are the future of audio: Kevin Garrett, Levi Carter, Mayaeni, and Young Paris.
Playing to a packed house (350 RSVPed to the private, invite-only show), the 28-year-old rapper from North Carolina garnered a crowd of mostly music industry insiders, including her friend and former collaborator, 9th Wonder. Though there were rumors of Jay Z (Rapsody is signed to his label) and Busta Rhymes appearances, most Thursday night revelers were purposeful Rapsody fans, many of whom were targeted with invites from Tidal based on their listening history.
One fan, Tanisha Smith said, “I got an email from Tidal because they know I listen to her music. I like Rapsody's music and I like that she's talking about something of substance, so an opportunity to come out and see her in person was too good to pass up. The instrumentals were great at this live mini concert!”
To commemorate the event, a photo installation by the Bosco allowed guests to take photo booth pictures filtered with Rapsody's logo and signature crown image to share on social media and print out. Jordan, one of the Bosco's photo booth staff, spoke proudly of Rapsody, who grew up near his own hometown in Snow Hill, North Carolina (about 23 miles outside of Greenville). He said he's been following her for years, and turned serious and matter of fact when he said, “It's just so good to see her making the big time.”
It began as a subdued evening, with guests mingling and experiencing a new dimension of sound in the 9.1 surround-sound audio tunnel, trying out Sennheiser headphones (with select special tours to experience the marble-set $55,000 Sennheiser HE 1, known as “the world's best headphones” and successor to the legendary Orpheus; sought after by Elon Musk and Saudi princes alike). After noshing on macarons and tartlets -- washed down with drinks from the bar -- the enlivened audience began obliging Rapsody's demands and commentary: “Everybody put your hands up.” “Anything a man can do a woman can do ten times better.” “Can I get an amen?” As in her post-show Q&A when the interviewer admitted her music is like church for him, the crowd roaringly responded with the fervor and unity of Sunday morning worshippers.
In her short and sweet set, Rapsody played seven songs before an onstage Q&A, where she was asked about the concept behind Crown, the forthcoming new album, and what it's like to work with Kendrick Lamar.
According to Rapsody, the concept of Crown is about how a person walks through life. She said, “It ain't about being the best in the game. We all have our own kingdom, and it's about taking your own experience of life and putting these jewels in your crown that make you who you are : shining your own light.”
In short, it's about self-love, and her fans have taken to the concept, posting their own photos with her trademark crown on social media (where Rapsody engages most with her fans and sometimes reposts their crown pics on Instagram), inspired by the rapper's life philosophies.
She stayed mum when pressed for details about the forthcoming album, but grinned and said she wished she could say more. “You've gotta keep some things a surprise,” she quipped, something she learned from Kendrick Lamar (a topic she was all too happy to dish about).
“We've done three songs together and we've only been in the studio together once. He gets in the space and gets in the zone. It's fun to watch him work. He's a perfectionist. That's what I learned from working with him. The studio is for practice. That's where you do all your crazy ideas and do them over and over again.”
All smiles exiting the venue at the end of the night, Rapsody and her crew stopped to mug at a giant, friendly bulldog named Napoleon. It was clear to see she's the sort of woman who never, ever leaves her home without her crown.