girlUP Playlist: celebrating Black Women Artists on the come up
There are sooooo many Black women who inspire us, who we love and who love us back whether through the inter webs or in our everyday life. They inspire us through their words, their actions and oftentimes through their music. The fly Black girls at BGF Mag decided to compile a list to close out Women's History Month and to celebrate said women: bomb, dope, talented and on the come up. See our list below.
SZA: The 20 something year old Jersey girl caught the music world’s attention a few mixtapes ago. Hailing from the same town as Lauryn Hill (South Orange! what up?), this small town girl creeped into our lives and managed to stay in our hearts creating songs that move us and make us bop our heads. After her last EP ‘Z,’ she announced that she would be the first lady of Top DAWG Entertainment—home to Kendrick Lamar, School Boy Q, Ab Soul and Isaiah Rashaad. The net-soul singer continues to grow before our eyes. You can find her at some of the biggest music festival stages or featured on songs with the likes of Rihanna and DRAM. SZA is glowed up, spiritually in tune, and an advocate for girls being free spirits. We don’t know how long we have, but we are crossing our fingers to get our hands on SZA’s debut album, “CTRL.”
NAO: The British singer-songwriter coined her own term to describe her music—“wonky funk”--this alone was enough to make the list, but we'll go on. NAO’S music background is extensive. She studied vocal jazz and later became a backup singer to UK artists. So Good (2014) and 2015’s ‘February 15th’ EPs, held the attention of her fans and landed her #4 on itunes charts. NAO prides herself on making music that comes naturally. Her breakout single, ‘Bad Blood,’ helped boost her growing fan base and made her a must listen. NAO’s grunge-like, soul and funk mixture makes her a boundless artist and a creative that we L-O-V-E. NAO is currently touring the world and can be found in a city near you. Seriously, look her up.
Ella Mai: Love, heartbreak, messages to your ex and the journey to self-love is reflective in Ella Mai’s catalog of music. Originally from London, Ella Mai moved to New York at 12 and ventured back to her homeland soon after high school. Ella Mai was part of a girl group that showcased themselves on the UK ‘X Factor,’ but the group split forcing Ella Mai to find ways to gain attention on her own. Most Ella Mai fans found the rising star on Instagram where she sang 15 sec covers of our favorite rap songs. As her following grew she began to share some of her original work. Ella Mai set fire to the music world when her song She Don’t played on the OVO Sound show. Her therapeutic lyrics are just what any girl could use when you need to be lifted up. You can catch Ella Mai as the opening act of Kehlani’s ‘Sweet, Sexy, Savage,’ tour. Otherwise, look her up and let her be your Sunday listen.
Chicago is brewing with a creative renaissance featuring some of the flyest Black women cultivating art and community that's pushing culture forward. Noname, the soft-spoken lyricist holds her own amongst her peers and male-counterparts. With her debut, Telephone continues to kill. Skilled in storytelling, open with her sharing of varied perspectives and clear about racism and oppression faced by Chicago's youth, Noname is an artist not only worth listening to, but hearing. With a sold-out 20-city tour complete + her Spring/Summer run of tour dates ahead, it is super clear to us that Noname is on her way all the way UP. Catch her vibe with featured tracks Yesterday + Diddy Bop.
Jamila Woods: More than a songstress, Woods is a healer: "See she's telepathic/ Call it black girl magic/ Yeah she scares the gov'ment/ Deja Vu of Tubman," lyrics to "Blk Girl Soldier" have helped us heal ourselves, providing the perfect soundtrack to any given #SelfCareSunday. Jamila's special gift with words + poetry coupled with her survey of Black girlhood makes manifest her music as unapologetically Black affirmations and empowerment anthems.
In the spirit of greats like Nina Simone, Woods interrogates oppression and anti-blackness in Chicago, creating contemporary protest music. Since the release of her debut project, Heavn, Jamila has only continued to glow up. When she hasn't been mentoring the next generation of Black leaders at Young Chicago's Authors, she is touring the country. Her most recent performances in Austin were among the most notable of the Chicago SXSW takeover. We are ready for wherever Jamila will take us next.
St. Beauty: Alex Belle and Isis Valentino, the dreamy duo behind Wondaland Arts Society's St. Beauty emerges as a musical breath of fresh air--the kind you breathe when you've been in the house all day and just need an inhale from nature herself. The Atlanta duo marry harmonies, nostalgic songwriting themes of wanderlust and love in order to bring Future Soul and R&B back to basics. In intentional + collaborative style, they present their music with as much attention to their curated vintage aesthetic as they do the dope places you may have connected with their music. If you kept up with Issa Rae's hit HBO series, Insecure, or hit up AfroPunk Fest 2016, then you've probably made acquaintance with the GirlUP featured track, "Holographic Lover." With lyrics exploring otherworldly yet familiar love, the two become the perfect soundboard for Issa and Lawrence's Black millennial love rollercoaster. We can't wait for their forthcoming debut.
Justine Skye : Deemed the “Purple Unicorn”, Brooklyn native Justine Skye has been killing the game lyric by lyric. If you don’t know her name it’s about time you get to it. Justine has created a buzz when her cover of Drake’s song “Headlines” hit two million views on social media. Soon after she was signing a record label deal and selling out her very first headline show. The internet sensation garnered her loyal fan-base #UnicornNation and has dropped 2 EPs “Everyday Living” and “Emotionally Unavailable” all before the age of 20. She is straight up dope! Make sure you take a listen.
Eryn Allen Kane: Based in Chicago, bringing her Detroit roots to the forefront with her soulful voice - reminiscent of motown and jazz, Eryn Allen Kane does the damn thing. Heavy on the vocals with subtle instrumentals, Eryn uses melody to transport you into her world and enchant you with her voice and scat style singing. Her music is not for the faint of heart - be prepared to be all UP in your feelings from the stories her lyrics tell. Eryn’s latest project, Aviary: Act II, is hopefully just the beginning of a beautiful production of artistry. We're here, patiently awaiting the next act(s) and the sequels--just kidding, we're not patiently waiting, give it to us Eryn! Look her up if you haven't heard of her...and even if you have.
Jorja Smith: This UK vocalist manages to blend soul and electronic into a unique, gritty, dimensional sound that still manages to be smooth and soothing. One of her first singles, Blue Lights, dropped when her lyrics told a story all too real to the black community. Since, she hasn't stopped tackling strong emotions in the stories of her songs. Her super tranquil voice melts into the music, so it’s no surprise Drake tapped into her talent for some of his baby making ballads on his latest, More Life. Big UPs to this talent from across the pond!
KING: This grammy award winning group is the essence of a Black Girl band. The trio of musicians, both externally instrumental and vocally, has captivated hearts and ears since the independent release of their first EP which featured the hit single “Hey”, “The Story”, and “Supernatural”! The group is comprised of two singers: Amber and Anita + one producer, Paris. KING renders music that feels good enough to bring you comfort, but is also so distinguished that you hold on, knowing you won't ever find another sound so pure. Garnering soulful vibes and demonstrating apt distinction, these melanin queens wear their crowns and name awfully well.
Chloe x Halle: In this lifetime, you will encounter very few voices with angelic tones and heart trembling vibrato like that of the soulful, singing, sister duo Chloe x Halle Bailey. These siblings hail from Atlanta and have made a significant debut as artists in the music industry under the tutelage of Mrs. Beyoncé Knowles-Carter back in 2013. But be not deceived: these rising stars are no strangers to the big screen. Chloe x Halle had appearances in Tyler Perry’s “Meet the Browns”, “House of Payne”, and appeared in “Fighting Temptations”. Now, after becoming YouTube sensations through their broadcasts of unrefuted cover songs, Chloe x Halle are making their own music and building a legacy and exuding Black Girl Magic and fierceness like it's no-body's business (make sure you take an appropriately long pause between "no" and "body's")!
Because we love you so and know everyone needs a bumpin' playlist to listen to no matter the occasion, we've created a playlist for all the fly girls to listen to. Put it on loud but mind your eardrums. Fill your headspace with love, consciousness, funk and soul. Thank us later.