Rapsody reflects on her journey with ‘Please Don’t Cry,’ finding love for Marlanna Evans on her fourth studio album

By Jamel Smith

June 1, 2024

Rapsody has been going through some things, and the only way out of it is in. For the past five years, Marlanna Evans, aka Rapsody, traversed difficult emotions and hard feelings to satisfy the question, “Do you know who you are?” It is this question that serves as the thematic cornerstone of Rapsody’s fourth studio album, Please Don’t Cry.

The 22-track album excavates Rapsody’s– or rather, Marlanna’s– identity as a woman, a Black person, and an artist. The first track “She’s Expecting You” finds the North Carolina emcee staring down the barrel of existentialism as legendary actress Phylicia Rashad (The Cosby Show), points the aforementioned question directly at her. The album is a raw and intimate exploration of what it means for Rapsody to find Marlanna. 

Album cover for North Carolina native Rapsody’s fourth studio album, ‘Please Don’t Cry.’

With each track, Rapsody disappears and her real self becomes clearer to the naked eye, as she bares her soul fearlessly to those who care to listen. And, for those who refuse, she’s holding up two middle fingers. Rapsody is not shying away from her darkest times nor is she eluding her own enlightenment. In fact, she welcomes it. Conveyed across razor-sharp bars, cinematic production (BLK ODYSSY, Hit-Boy, S1, Eric G, and Sndtrak), and complementary features (Lil Wayne, DIXSON, Erykah Badu, Alex Isley, Niko Brim, Baby Tate, and Mantragold), Please Don’t Cry will entice fans to reflect over their own healing journeys. 

“The 22-track album excavates Rapsody’s– or rather, Marlanna’s– identity as a woman, a Black person, and an artist.”

You see, Rapsody was annoyed, finding success in her “conscious” message and soulful delivery– signing with Jay-Z, securing legendary rap features, traveling the world on tour, and acquiring Grammy nominations; the years have certainly been kind to her. However, she can’t escape the carnivorous bite of patriarchy and misogynistic discourse that follows the Snow Hill, North Carolina native rapper. 

On “Stand Tall,” she erects pridefully like a phoenix, arising from rumors about her identity and sexuality (“Judgment’s on me; they wonderin’ if I’m a “Eat the coochie” fan / All because I choose to style in sneakers and baggy pants”). In an industry where rap girls are heavily sexualized for male consumption, it has become suffocating. On “Diary of a Mad Bitch,” she raps: “When it comes to the music industry, b*tch, I’m fed up / Y’all lazy with this sh*t– everything look cookie cutter / We seen enough ass– that sh*t ain’t special no more / It’s like breathin’ and takin’ a bath– it’s some everyday sh*t.” 

Intimacy is displayed profoundly across the album as Rapsody falls in love with others and with herself, too. On “3:AM,” featuring Eryah Badu, Rapsody is caught in the throes of being in love in the early morning hours (“The most vulnerable that I could be / Right around this time of the mornin’ at three / Yeah, I love you”). Rapsody parallels her relationship to that of Dre and Sidney from the 2002 romantic comedy film, Brown Sugar (“We been together super long / The Dre to my Sidney/ It tastes like Brown Sugar every time you kissed me”). In a moment of pure intimacy, Rapsody exposes Marlanna’s desire to have a family with her “Dre,” and name their girl “Sydney” in one of the album’s most heart-warming moments. On the aptly titled “Back in My Bag,” Rapsody reflects after a moment of loss: “Sometimes, you gotta lose yourself to find yourself again / Welcome back, Marlanna,” before exploding into a fiery chorus of self-confidence and resilience, “I’m back in my bag / I’m back in my bag, on God.”

In one of the album’s heart-wrenching moments, she speaks to a dementia-stricken woman whom she lovingly calls “her second mother” on “Loose Rocks,” featuring Alex Isley. Placed between Isley’s ethereal vocals, Rapsody poignantly describes the feeling of seeing your loved ones lose their memories, especially the ones they had with you (“It breaks my heart to know you gon’ forget us / Dementia touch yo’ memory; you like my second mother”). The song’s palpable grief is met with comfort as it closes with a heartwarming phone conversation between the two. Yet again, a moment of intimacy feels like a community moment for people going through the same things. 

Please Don’t Cry is beautifully communal. Rapsody is enlightened and wishes to share it with her audience. “Never Enough” is a Reggae-influenced ode to self-acceptance (“Never fit in their illusion– I was always the glitch / My soul rich, I’m so rich– my purpose ain’t for purchase / Love me or love me not, I know what worth is– me”), while “Lonely Women” extends a message of self-love. In response to her own experience with infidelity, Rapsody, along with Baby Tate, reassures listeners that accepting loneliness is better than settling for less on “A Ballad for Homegirls.”

Please Don’t Cry sees Rapsody free and fully human. On “That One Time,” she exchanges the pressure of perfection for the liberation of imperfection. She intros the song with a testimony of acceptance: “I think the most beautiful sh*t is when you can be the most honest wit’ yourself / Like, I think that’s when you’re the most free– when you can be vulnerable / And allow yourself to not be perfect, ya dig? Just be human– that’s it / That’s the work I’ve been doin’, anyway.” Rapsody reflects on her journey by questioning who she lives for– her parents, pastors, demons, and fears. Always being someone society can’t put its finger on, she embraces her imperfections by leaning into them head-on and, in the process, finds love for herself, both Marlanna and Rapsody. 

Listen to Rapsody’s fourth studio album, Please Don’t Cry, and check out the dates for her 2024 tour that will culminate with homecoming shows in Charlotte (Amos’ Southend on October 25) and Raleigh (Lincoln Theatre on October 27).

Read next: 

In this article