Virginia native Rap-Unzel has already garnered comparison to the likes of Kash Doll, Rubi Rose, and Jay-Z, but with her debut EP Pun Intended, she proves she’s a future superstar who stands out from the crowd.
Rap-Unzel quickly became a fan favorite when she appeared on Lifetime’s The Rap Game, a competition show dedicated to challenging young rappers to develop their artistry and build a fanbase. At just 15, she received guidance from industry heavyweight Jermaine Dupri while honing in on who she wanted to be as an artist. Four years later, she’s nailed down the perfect answer.
Pun Intended opens with the triumphant “Pretty B.I.S.H.,” which Rap-Unzel describes as a “great, upbeat introduction” to anyone listening to her music for the first time. The second song, “Bragg,” is a testament to confidence and working hard, the perfect culmination of the project’s themes.
One of the most slick tracks on the EP, “Neva” speaks on Rap-Unzel’s independence and strong mindset. She dropped a music video back in January that’s already collected over 31,000 views, placing her in settings like a Ted Talk stage and a casual living room with an inadequate boyfriend.
She shares, “My favorite part to film was the Ted Talk inspired segment! It’s such a creative aspect of the video & I hadn’t seen it done before, either. I got to act a little bit while dressed as a modern day Steve Jobs, so I had a lot of fun shooting that part.”
Rap-Unzel slows things down on the R&B-tinged track “No More,” which describes a crumbling relationship with smooth sung vocals and a mellow rap cadence. “I always knew I was capable of writing melodic, rap songs but that’s not a side I’ve really shown my fans,” she says. “I always planned on showcasing that at some point on the project.”
The energetic, self-assured “Fuego” boasts some of Rap-Unzel’s favorite lyrics on the project:
My wrist was hurting, I iced it, healed it like Isis
I’m blowing up like my prices
Call me Apple, I’m ’bout “I” shit
You was just hating on my shit, now I see that you recite
Under your photos, it’s citedRap-Unzel, “Fuego”
“Obviously there’s some really cool wordplay in that, as well as some lines that have a deeper meaning,” Rap-Unzel explains. “For example, Isis was an Egyptian goddess that protected women and children, and healed the sick. Hence why I said ‘Healed it like Isis’ after saying I iced my wrist.”
EP closer “Wassup Wit It” is a Foxy Brown-esque track that highlights how hard Rap-Unzel has worked to get to where she is now, while giving her one last opportunity to show off her skills before she says goodbye to listeners with a sassy “I’m out.” It reminds fans what the project is all about: Pun Intended is the amalgamation of years of perseverance, achieving goals, and reworking these tracks until they were ready to take on the world.
“It’s possible to be bar-heavy and creative while still being relatable and exciting,” Rap-Unzel insists. “I hate the stigma that female rappers don’t have anything important or deep to say, because that’s just not true. I hope listeners will really take the time to analyze the lyrics on Pun Intended. I love when people message me and tell me they caught this bar or that bar; it lets me know there are people that still care to think and hear real artistry.”
The confident “Pretty B.I.S.H.” perfectly sets the scene for the project, with its bouncy beat and bold lyrics. What made you choose it for the opener?
“Pretty B.I.S.H.” was released earlier as a single, so I thought it’d be good to start off with something familiar to my current fans and a great, upbeat introduction to my new ones! Also, the “B.I.S.H.” acronym has its own meaning, every letter has a purpose – just like everything I do.
You released a music video for “Neva” in January that has settings like an airport, a living room, and a Ted Talk-esque stage. What was your favorite part to film?
My favorite part to film was the Ted Talk inspired segment! It’s such a creative aspect of the video & I hadn’t seen it done before, either. I got to act a little bit while dressed as a modern day Steve Jobs, so I had a lot of fun shooting that part.
While most of the songs on the EP are rap-focused, you get to sing on the R&B track “No More.” Did you know you wanted to sing on the project before you made the song?
Yes! I always knew I was capable of writing melodic, rap songs but that’s not a side I’ve really shown my fans – so I always planned on showcasing that at some point on the project.
When you were 15 you got to appear on The Rap Game and learn more about the industry from Jermaine Dupri. Is there anything you learned from the show that stuck with you while you made this EP?
We had a lot of strict deadlines on the show and there was no time to procrastinate. Now that I have a little more control over my own schedule, I still like to challenge myself to work as fast as possible and create my own strict deadlines.
You’ve been rapping for years but this is the first full EP you’ve released – how did you know it was the right time to release this project?
I waited to release this project until each song was to my standard. I even re-recorded and rewrote some of them. Trusting my gut and knowing how much work I put in made the timing feel right.
Is there a certain lyric/wordplay from the EP you’re especially proud of?
I really love this sequence in “Fuego” – “My wrist was hurting I iced it, healed it like Isis. I’m blowing up like my prices, call me Apple, I’m ‘bout “I” shit. You was just hating on my shit, now I see that you recite, under your photos it’s cited.” Obviously there’s some really cool wordplay in that, as well as some lines that have a deeper meaning. For example, Isis was an Egyptian goddess that protected women and children, and healed the sick. Hence why I said “Healed it like Isis” after saying I iced my wrist.
Did the COVID-19 pandemic affect the production process or release plans?
Yes, of course. The pandemic was a hard time for me as an independent artist. There was so much work I wanted to get done but I didn’t have all the resources & funding necessary to do so. Also, it was hard to feel inspired some days. There was so much tragedy all over the world and I wasn’t even sure when we would be getting back to some normalcy.
Now that the EP is coming out, is there anything you’re looking forward to next?
I’m looking forward to more live performances, as well as attracting new fans & supporters. I’m also looking forward to new career and business opportunities.