Jamla Records/Roc Nation artist Rapsody recently received her first two Grammy nominations, but an invite to be the musical guest on SNL must happen – immediately.
I’ll keep this brief. I’m writing this in hopes of igniting a campaign calling for North Carolina-raised emcee (MC from here on) Rapsody to be invited to be the musical performer on Saturday Night Live. This season.
This really shouldn’t be a difficult request. I mean, after all, what good is a career-altering business relationship with multi-platinum and record-breaking MC, entrepreneur and record label head Shawn “Jay Z” Carter if it can’t produce such an important coup? It’s unlikely that Hov would entertain such an invite again! So, send a Roc Nation emissary not named J. Cole who could benefit from the exposure.
I believe Rapsody playing SNL is deserved for a few reasons.
First, just last month on November 11, comedian/actress Tiffany Haddish became the first black female standup comic to host the longtime-running sketch comedy series in the show’s 43 seasons. Haddish is the first black female comic, but according to Essence, she’s just the 12th black women to lead an SNL episode. Feel free to take a look, but no Angela Bassett and no Viola Davis.
Rapsody is not an actress, but other than Solange Knowles’ performance on SNL last November, it seems like ages since memorable performances by Beyoncé (2008) or Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott lit up my late night viewing on a Saturday. Elliot’s “Lose Control” performance is a personal all-time favorite that can’t be found on YouTube any longer. So maybe it never really happened.
No shots at Rihanna and her five appearances spanning from 2009-2015.
Nikki Minaj, a top-selling MC, has graced the SNL stage a couple of times in recent years, but a performance by Rapsody would present a different set of optics regarding the versatility of the female MC.
Reason number two: Rapsody’s “peer group” has done really well on SNL.
Okay, I’m struggling badly with illustrating the hierarchy in modern RnB/Soul and hip-hop. Is “modern Black music” acceptable for a genre?
The best I can do is, Bey is unquestionably at the top. Rihanna is high up there. In the middle is Chris Brown, The Weeknd sells really well, Usher has done really well. On the hip-hop side Kendrick, Drake, J. Cole lead the way, but a bunch artists named Lil’ ____ are doing very well on radio and in the club. But, there are a bunch of amazing artists who, for lack of a better categorization, have to work harder and more often.
Rapsody earned her two recently announced Grammy nominations for her latest album Laila’s Wisdom. Preceded by that album, are nearly 10 projects released in various formats, with LW being the first proper release backed by the Roc Nation flag and further supported by, but not limited to, Jay-Z’s streaming service Tidal.
The aforementioned Solange appearance in 2016 probably culminated from her album A Seat at the Table reaching No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. Physical copies of the album – a project independently released by Knowles’ Saint Records – hit shelves a couple of weeks after her performance.
Speaking of indie-adjacent or indie-leaning rappers, Chicago’s Chance The Rapper, a free agent paragon, has done the most on SNL!
In December 2015 Chance became the first artist to perform on SNL without backing from any major record label. Chance’s SNL appearance was fueled by a pair of popular mixtapes, and it happened nearly six months before the Chicagoan’s streaming-only release Coloring Book cracked the Billboard 200 chart before going on to win a Grammy.
Rapsody’s competition for Best Rap Album is robust – Jay Z, Kendrick, and Migos. She might not fare as well as Chance did in beating out a field that included fellow Chicago native Kanye West, but paired with some influence by Jay Z and her two Grammy noms, that’s more than enough cachet to command an SNL set.
The third and final reason Rapsody deserves to play SNL: Fleet Foxes.
In my Kevin Hart voice, I don’t want to besmirch Fleet Foxes in any way. Wonderful group. I don’t know FF’s stats. I’m sure FF is a fine indie folk band supported by great fans. However, I bring them up solely because I caught them on SNL one night, didn’t know who the hell they were, and somewhat dug their lane. They are one of the many groups I never knew existed before catching them on SNL, but after that SNL performance nearly nine years ago, I can quickly reference them without any aid from Google. End Kevin Hart voice.
Rapsody is one of hip hop’s hardest workers. And, her and her renowned producer 9th Wonder – a W.E.B. DuBois Harvard Fellow – spent over 24 months crafting a well-constructed, brilliantly executed LP that truly deserves to be presented to audiences late on a slow fall Saturday night. Jay, let’s get this done, for the culture.