North Carolina’s Rapsody set to release her fourth studio album, ‘Please Don’t Cry,’ in May

By Jamel Smith

March 22, 2024

Photo: Jhalin Knowles 

Rapsody’s latest single, “Stand Tall,” is maybe her most transparent and uncharacteristically vulnerable track to date. It’s part of the Grammy-nominated rapper’s forthcoming studio album, Please Don’t Cry, set to drop on May 17. 

Album cover for Rapsody’s upcoming fourth studio album, ‘Please Don’t Cry,’ set to be released on May 17.

In the early 2010s, when Snow Hill, North Carolina’s Marlanna Evans, better known as Rapsody, first stepped into the spotlight, it was in the wake of Nicki Minaj’s rap reign. At the time, a question mark towered over the future of “female rap,” and believe it or not, the land was barren, as many “femcees” hit an all too familiar note to The Harajuku Barbie.

For Rapsody, however, this was an opportunity to establish a lane for herself– one she’d worked on since her days at North Carolina State University in the early aughts as a member of Kooley High. After meeting producer 9th Wonder in 2004 and working with him on his sophomore album, The Dream Merchant Vol. 2, she launched her solo career with a string of critically acclaimed mixtapes and EPs: Return of the B-Girl (2010), Thank H.E.R. Now and For Everything (2011), and The Black Mamba (2012). Donned in baggy streetwear and spitting heavy bars, Rapsody immediately became an ascending star. Many praised her stellar lyricism and delivery while others made intrusive judgements about her gender expression and sexuality, both of which she addresses head-on in “Stand Tall.” 

North Carolina’s Rapsody performing at Made in America Festival in Philadelphia in 2017. Photo: Andre Jones / CLTure

In 2012, Rapsody released her debut album, The Idea of Beautiful, and captured the hearts of “true rap” fans everywhere– a double-edged honor in the hip-hop community. Nevertheless, her lore grew stronger as she collected picture-perfect bars, heavy-duty industry co-signs, and impressive albums like Infinity Stones. Both the Grammy-nominated Laila’s Wisdom (2017) and the critically acclaimed Eve (2019) served as odes to Black womanhood, immortalizing the wisdom, love, and guidance from figures like Nina Simone, Michelle Obama, Afeni Shakur, and Laila Ray, her maternal grandmother.

By 2020, Rapsody achieved top-tier status as a rapper, a feat that would sustain her during the height of the COVID pandemic. Instead of releasing another album, the consummate rapper went on a rampage with collaborations with Public Enemy, KIRBY, Tank and The Bangas, Lady London, Faouzia, and Stevie Wonder, to name a few. In 2023, she released the compilation project GOATED: Rapsody, a collection of some of her beloved album cuts.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Rapsody (@rapsody)

After a five-year album hiatus came signs of daybreak when Rapsody started releasing song teasers with “Rap Is Back” earmarks to entice fans. The Hit-Boy-produced “Asteroids,” was released in October 2023 and featured a noticeably confident Rapsody dodging hate and disrespect over a jittery boom-bap beat. Five months later, she returns with the Eric G-produced “Stand Tall,” a clear response to decades-old rumors about her sexuality and new revelations about her anxiety. The accompanying music video provides a deeper look into the forthcoming album as it opens with a three-minute visual foreword featuring actress Sanaa Lathan, someone whom Rapsody credits as being “one of her guides and supporters” throughout her healing and album-making processes.

The Cam Robert-directed
visual captures Lathan and Rapsody in black and white as they engage in an open conversation about what scares the 41-year-old rap maven the most these days: vulnerability. It then unleashes the most exposed track we’ve ever heard from Rap. “Stand Tall” offers introspection and reflection on quiet topics, and successfully hints at a resilient album that promises to do the same.

The Jamla/Roc Nation rapper unveiled the official artwork and tracklist for Please Don’t Cry, a robust 22-song album with collaborations from Lil Wayne, Bibi Bourelly, Erykah Badu, Alex Isley, Baby Tate, Phylicia Rashad, and more.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by RapCaviar (@rapcaviar)


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by CLTure® (culture) (@clturenc)

Read next:

In this article