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Rapsody Flexes 'Power,' Minus Hip-Hop's Hypermasculine Clichés

Advisory: The above video may contain language and imagery some may find offensive.

Rapsody's first video from her recently released LP Laila's Wisdom lives up to the song's title. In a word, "Power" conveys just that, without relying on hip-hop cliché.

The opening sequence juxtaposes muscular, bare-chested men and gun toters against images of a newborn baby, a smiling girl in a sunflower field and a woman bowing in prayer, while Rapsody challenges the tropes that tend to paint black power as a strictly masculine affair.

Directed by Cam Be and Game Theory, the visual fronts a strong contender among 2017's top hip-hop albums. Laila's Wisdomfinds Rapsody trading bars (on "Power") with Kendrick Lamar, who gave her a legit co-sign by featuring her as one of only two guest emcees on his stellar 2016 LP, To Pimp A Butterfly.

Though Lamar is absent for this video, he's hardly missed, thanks to a beautiful sleight of cinematography that transitions to "Ridin'," another standout track from the album, just in time to spotlight the guest verse from Rapsody's JAMLA affiliate GQ.

Lamar's TDE labelmate Lance Skiiiwalker, who sings the song's hook, also makes his guest appearance. But "Power," in this case, is all about Rapsody — as it should be.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Rodney Carmichael is NPR Music's hip-hop staff writer. An Atlanta-bred cultural critic, he helped document the city's rise as rap's reigning capital for a decade while serving on staff as music editor, culture writer and senior writer for the defunct alt-weekly Creative Loafing.