“I’m that Black-a-Rican bruja straight out from the Yoruba and my ancestors Nigerian, my grandmas was brujas. And I come from an island and it’s called Puerto Rico, and it’s one of the smallest but it got the most people”


Brujas- Princess Nokia


I was introduced to Princess Nokia through an online video of her explaining her growth in the heart of Harlem and her growth into her perspective that within every strong woman of color is a feminist. I became completely enamored with Princess Nokia after hearing her description of G.O.A.T on the Verified Youtube channel. She is enlightened and has a confidence that is a result of authenticity rather than an inflated ego. “Brujas” is an amalgam of these roots, the implications of the diaspora, and the feminist sentiments held deeply inside Princess Nokia and the many girls that resonate with the space she has created. If you haven’t yet heard Princess Nokia’s eloquent thoughts and cries for assistance regarding the recent tragedies in her home territory of Puerto Rico, I urge you to look for them on social media in a quest to understand and assist the people who are hurt the most by recent events.


“But if I really did him in, I say, why he want this Nasty Gal back again?”


Nasty Gal- Betty Davis


I will go to my grave kicking and screaming that Betty Davis has perfected the funk groove in her song “Nasty Gal.” Hearing this song for the first time was an out-of-body experience. I had never heard such an authentic, vitriolic, crucial expression from a female performer in my entire life. It is the almost primal scream in the fight to be yourself. Betty Davis let women know it’s OK to be aggressive; to be real. Not only is it OK, but it’s cool. 


“I got more records than the K.G.B. so, uh, no funny business. Are you ready all?”


Paper Planes- M.I.A.

M.I.A has bridged the gap between the rich Desi diaspora, the cultural aspects she clings on to so tightly, with the stylistic aspects of mainstream American/English pop. The music video for “Paper Planes” illustrates this fact in an aesthetically awe-inspiring mixture of sound, geography, iconic outfits, and the integration of style that is quintessentially Mathangi. Her influence in this unique mesh between rap and pop created space for numerous experimental women artists to come. Plus, name an instrumental introduction with more of an ability to captivate than that of the song “Bad Girls!”

“When all else fails and you long to be something better than you are today, I know a place where you can get away, it’s called a dance floor”


Vogue- Madonna


The impact of Madonna as a pop-culture and style icon is almost inexplicable, because a young girl’s reaction to Madonna is more like an internal question of: “What is this? And where has she been all of my life?” Besides being an iconic drag icon, simply put, “Vogue” inspired a generation to dance, sing, and be who they are, because above all else, it’s at least more stylish and fun that way!


“Always keep your heart locked tight, don’t let your mind retire”


Haim- The Wire


Not only are the members of Haim literal style icons, but there unique sound has been gravitating all different groups of people since their inception. I hold a sacred place in my heart for pop not girl bands, but it is refreshing to see women like Haim embracing a more “traditional,” instrumental band format that some would say has been historically reserved for men.


“Your kisses, sweeter than honey. And guess what? So is my money!”


Aretha Franklin- Respect


The line above is one of those quotes that stun you every type you comprehend it;s implication. Aretha Franklin has always been and will always be at the heart and soul of protest music. The self-confidence in her voice, lyrics, and state of being derived from her hard work and gradual recognition of her authentic worth that society was not always quick to remind her of. In the words of Jack Black in School of Rock, “Wanna know who else was a little chubby? Aretha Franklin. But when she goes on stage, everyone wants to party with Aretha!”


“Pay me what you owe me!”


BBHMM- Rihanna


This music video depicts all different kinds of girls that are actually representative of the groups of people that look up to Rihanna as an artist and powerful female figure (for example, Sanam (@trustmedaddy on Instagram, who Rihanna sought out for this video because she recognized something unique). Rihanna continues to make space for powerful young, female, artistic voices. The vibe of BBHMM is almost haunting in a way, because when you are singing along to it, you can’t help but yell. Yelling out these lyrics are almost in and of itself a declaration of your power, which some may not want you to recognize that you hold so strongly. 


“I’m coming out. I want the world to know. Gotta let it show”


I’m Coming Out- Diana Ross


Two words. Funky. Queen. I would consider it a state of being. The confidence, enlightenment, aesthetic, she has passed down to her iconic daughter Tracee Ellis Ross, or the thousand of women who after seeing Diana Ross in her element on stage, knew they could do whatever they pleased. The title of the song I chose says it all: “I want the world to know. Gotta let it show.”


“Take this pink ribbon off my eyes”


Just a Girl- No Doubt


This song is truly a pop anthem. Whether the first time you heard it was during that iconic opening scene in Clueless, or when you needed additional motivation to speak your mind, the subtle jab at the system in this song is undeniable. Gwen Stefani figured out a way to mock the ways society downplays girls and their abilities. I would say it’s strangely empowering to embrace all the ways society thinks you’re “weak,” and then belt out that sentiment with a major guitar riff


“Think that I couldn’t cross the street without holding’ his hand and that if he did his dirt he’d get off with a reprimand”


Ridin Round- Kali Uchis


Kali Uchis is the prose-writing Colombian dreamboat thousands of Gen-Z teenagers were waiting for. Her songs have the unparalleled ability to combine her experiences, her language, and her perspectives with the sentimental, aesthetically curated groove that has the potential to define the modern music space. She stands empowered in her confidence, her abilities, and her capacity to story tell in a way that is authentically Kali Uchis. The intersection between aesthetic and sound is undeniable at this point and time, and is the reason why so many of us resonate with this “dislikable Colombiana.”

Emily Blake