Music has always been vital in self-soothing and helping to process what’s going on inside. Especially now, in the year that life as we know it changed drastically. These days, I find myself planning my soundtrack more often than my outfits and scheduling jam sessions more than social gatherings.
Massive amounts of Afrobeats to preserve my panAfrican joy. Mornings full of hip-hop discourse from thought leaders. Soulful R&B to remind me that there is always a place for deep Black love. Conscious reggae to remind me of the revolution: the who and what we are fighting for. Gospel to cleanse the soul and fill me with the Holy Spirit. And all the alternative genres that I love that helps me untangle my intuitive and often overwhelming Black emotions.
Playlists have become as vital to me as a daily planner. I’ve been navigating the days, the uprising, the uncertainty and the unknown less and less with to-do lists and more so focusing on what I want to experience, who I am becoming and all that is evolving within and around me. I find myself listening to more and more music that acknowledges me as a spiritual being having a human experience, but more specifically as a strong Black woman still very much in need of tender words and soothing rhythms. Music that makes me feel seen and intricately known.
This led me to wanting to feed myself more songs that addressed my complex emotions as a Black woman during this time. I had the revolutionary playlists, the soundtracks for both love and war, sometimes simultaneously. But what I was missing was a collective of songs to revisit when I just needed a simple love letter. A reminder that I am loved, understood and seen, a kiss from a rose, a four-page letter, a testimony that I am loved because of my Blackness, not just in spite of it and, specifically, as a Black woman.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a playlist is worth a thousand thoughts. Collectively, I present a love letter to Black women (the Black woman) as curated through the voices of the men and women who love and adore them. Enjoy.
Dear Black Women: There are apologies you never received. Things you felt and witnessed and experienced that were never truly acknowledged or processed, let alone atoned and properly forgiven. For all the things you’ve had to heal in private, for all the rage and trauma and regrets you have had to tuck away safely in order to step fully into your role as the strong Black woman — in your relationship, in your career, in your community, in your family, in your home. You are appreciated and held with respect. These songs are for you, with love.
2Pac – "Keep Your Head Up"
JAY Z – "4:44"
N.E.R.D. – "Run To The Sun"
Dear Black Women: Your deepness, your boldness, your soulfulness, your Blackness. It may intimidate others, but throughout history and for eternity it has also been celebrated through art, music, fashion, literature, film and life itself. Nothing can taint or touch your beautiful soul, and its expression has made and shaped this world in a way that can only be traced back to God. These songs are for you, with love.
Nina Simone – "Feeling Good"
Xavier Omar – "Blind Man"
Jill Scott – "The Way"
Dear Black Women: Your subtle reminders have matured into cries heard around the world, praying for a world that protects Black women, and marching, protesting, donating, petitioning and patrolling when needed to ensure that it happens. You are valued and deserve to be protected like the precious jewel you are. And you will be. These songs are for you, with love.
Bob Marley – "Sun Is Shining"
Wizkid – "Fever"
Jhené Aiko and Common – "Pretty Bird (Freestyle)"
Dear Black Women: Your Black love is unmatched. Everything about you exudes reverence and passion and grace. You are a joy to behold in any relationship: as wife, girlfriend and lover to others, but most importantly, to yourself. You are worthy of Black romance, Black fantasy and Black love in whatever form that looks like for you. You deserve all of the praise and joy and beautiful things coming your way. These songs are for you, with love.
D’Angelo – "Lady"
Common and Mary J. Blige – "Come Close"
Saba – "Symmetry"
Dear Black Women: You are a one-of-a-kind and once-in-a-lifetime queen upon her own, unique throne. You are in competition with no one, rule your own and hold your own within any kingdom or queendom. You know who you are and what you are about and your home, office, workplace, business, family and relationships are better because of it. You are honoured. These songs are for you, with love.
Koffee – "Throne"
Chronixx – "Majesty"
Masego – "Queen Tings"
Ari Lennox – "New Apartment"
J. Cole – "Folding Clothes"
Flower in Bloom
Dear Black Women: You are beautiful, from your crown to your roots. Everything about you is an inspiration around the world. Just like a garden, your variety is a sight to behold, the way you blossom in different colors and create new patterns which eventually become the most coveted trends. You are seen. You are amazing in the deepest sense of the word. And these songs are for you, with love.
Kendrick Lamar and Drake – "Poetic Justice"
India.Arie – "Video"
Hood Celebrityy – "Walking Trophy"
Mali Music – "Beautiful"
Dear Black Women: You are the creator of life in many forms, and your melanin is full of supreme power beyond what most could even imagine. The Black man only becomes God by acknowledging that which is within the Black woman: the key to the kingdom. And we all empower the God and Goddess within by uplifting each other up. Tap into your inner goddess. These two songs are for you, with love.
Beyonce – "Black Parade"
Tiwa Savage, Mr. Eazi – "Keys To The Kingdom"
Dear Black Women: Where would we be and how would we even be here without you? While the world continues to fluctuate between coveting and conspiring against Black men, they are reminded that Black men don’t grow on trees but inside Black women. As mothers mourn their children and children lose their mothers through senseless violence, we honour you even more for bringing life into this world then spending your entire life nurturing and protecting us from a world that isn’t kind to Black mothers and their families. You are the rock, the foundation, the tree. And these songs are for you, with love.
Rapsody, PJ Morton, D. Smoke – "Afeni (Remix)"
Ms. Lauryn Hill and Carlos Santana – "To Zion"
2pac – "Dear Mama"
“The Love Letter to Black Women” playlist can be enjoyed and streamed in its entirety on Spotify. Consider it an act of self-care and share it with a Black woman you know.