Psalm One Credit: Serene Supreme

Cristalle Bowen, best known as Psalm One, has a creative stamina and drive matched by few Chicago rappers. She began carving out a career as a solo artist in the early 2000s, and it became her main focus after her promising underground crew the Nacrobats broke up in 2003. And aside from a brief stint with Minneapolis hip-hop imprint Rhymesayers in the mid-2000s, she’s largely done it without label support—she’s self-released her records and put together her own tours. In 2013 she created a new stage persona, Hologram Kizzie, and the following year she launched the Rapper Chicks, her first collective since the Nacrobats. A few years ago, Rapper Chicks rapper-singer Angel Davanport moved to Minneapolis, and Psalm followed suit, partly to help with Angel’s music and partly to refocus her own creative energy. The change appears to have worked, at least judging from the sound of Psalm’s new Flight of the Wig (Rapper Chicks). She’s a keen writer and a vigorous rapper, and her visceral performances on the album give an extra bite to her lyrical attacks on homophobia and misogyny. My favorite tracks showcase her might on the mike: on “I Got Time (Incomplete),” for instance, the minimalist instrumental feels almost sleepy, anchored by a somber piano melody, but Psalm twists her verses around the beat with such inventiveness that the track leaps to life.   v