The world got you down? Love music? I suggest you make a Black Feminist Mixtape.^
You start with ALL of the Nina Simone. Not a few songs, ALL of them. Trust me. Add in The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. A healthy portion of Mary J. Blige. This must include all of the songs on My Life, as well as Not Gon’ Cry and the entire Mary album which was when Mary made her full transition into making the soundtrack for Hip Hop Feminists.
Now this may be controversial, since this artist has some questionable stances on the autonomy women have over their own bodies, but this album was made before she came out and said all that ish on the Twitta. Erykah Badu’s Mama’s Gun is a must. Orange Moon is that shit. Other albums by Erykah also work, but Mama’s Gun is important.
Ok so now no Black Feminist Mixtape is complete without an actual full representation of Black women across the globe. That means add some Celia Cruz, Rita Indiana, Miriam Makeba, Ibeyi, Somi, Angelique Kidjo, Patra, Destra Garcia, Buika, La India etc. Celia Cruz is la reina de la salsa, & she always honors her saints. Her chants to the Orishas will literally get you through life. Trust.
Now I love me some Bomba y Plena, so I also have Paracumbé.
If you don’t follow British Pop you are missing out! Lianne La Havas (THE SISTREN!) is phenomenal. Laura Mvula’s Sing to the Moon is a masterpiece and celebration of all of the wonders of Black womanhood. I dare you to listen to Green Gardens and not immediately have a renewed optimism. Add FKA Twigs for a healthy helping of AfroFuturism.
Ok so other contemporary options include Rihanna. ALL OF THE RIHANNA. I’m telling you this girl has an exceptional catalogue. And don’t say “But she can’t sing!” Listen, true equality is the license to suck like the white man* and if Britney Spears gets to make millions without talent, then so does Rihanna. Are we clear? Great!
You have to include ANTI because if RiRi’s command on songs like Desperado and Consideration doesn’t immediately remind you of your own ferocity you are dead inside and it’s too late for you. Sorry.
For more Bad Bitch tunes include Etta James, Jean Grae, Aretha, Kelis, Tina Turner, Me’shell Ndegeocello, and Betty Davis. Yo, Betty Davis is the TRUTH RUTH! If you haven’t gotten your life while listening to the album Betty Davis, you aren’t living.
For more contemporary songs Santigold’s Master of My Make Believe is a MUST. The homey really did that album for the culture. It is a stunning and empowering piece of art, and the production is FLAWLESS. Solange’s A Seat At The Table is a Black Girl Magic Opus. Make sure you include Mama Tina’s interlude. Kelela is more AfroFuturism and will legit send you into a trance. Dej Loaf is adorableness. And add Lemonade. By Beyoncé? YES BEYONCÉ. Don’t Hurt Yourself and Sorry are the songs that really do it for me but the entire album really is good. ‘I Ain’t Sorry’ is really the perfect comeback for living in all of the fabulousness of my unapologetic Black womanhood. Unapologetic forever!
Ok this is getting super long. My Black Feminist Mixtape (which is really a playlist, cuz 2017) is a few days long. And I edit it as needed.
So what are the essential elements of a Black Feminist Mixtape? For me, a tune makes the cut when it reflects the full spectrum of realities of being a Black woman. When it makes me feel seen. No monolithic bullshit on the playlist. It’s peak Black Girl Magic. It’s Jazmine Sullivan singing about her fears of love on Lion Tigers & Bears, while also singing about how she craves it on Need U Bad. It’s Sweet Honey In The Rock on Ella’s Song, singing what I call movement music honoring the great Ella Baker. It’s Tweet falling in love with herself on Oh My.
Rock out to Betty Davis. Get your sexy on with Rihanna’s Pour It Up, damn the man with Nina Simone’s Mississippi Got Damn, get vulnerable with Solange’s Cranes In the Sky, celebrate your Black excellence with Whitney Houston’s Salute and Nina Simone’s Young Gifted & Black. Yes Nina Simone is vital. Sing along to MJB’s Be Happy because self love is a revolutionary act.
So go forth and prepare your mind. Take a breather, or pump yourself up for the resistance. The Black Feminist Mixtape is for all occasions. And lemme know who I should add in the comments!
^Certain artists aren’t on my mixtape because I can’t listen to them without going to a dark place, like Whitney or Billie Holiday. Don’t let that stop you from jamming out.
*Wisdom from Chris Rock.