Billie Walker

International Women’s Day: A Playlist

To celebrate International Women’s Day, a.k.a the feminist equivalent to Christmas, I wanted to share with you a playlist of artists who are devoted to raising up women and smashing down the patriarchy. Whilst creating this I was going to add in the obvious girl power anthems, but I decided that as we all know these I wanted to focus on the female artists that you may be yet to discover, and why I believe these women have something different to offer.

First up on the list is the youngest addition at only 18. Mahalia speaks incredibly wisely for her age about love and self respect. She is most known for her hit old school R&B style track Sober which is about those drunken messages we regret sending in the sobering daylight hours. Independence Day is one of her lesser known tracks but holds an important realisation that she doesn’t need a man to love her as she can love herself. A piece of logic that I am still working on ingraining into my brain.

The importance of self-love is currently at the forefront of a lot of feminist conversation as many argue that in order to look after your mental and physical health you must love yourself in order to care for yourself and that in order to create healthy relationships you must for love yourself. Or as RuPaul would say: “If you can’t love yourself how the hell you gonna love anybody else?” It is much easier said than done and practicing self love is hard work the next song Holy by Jamila Woods has become my mantra for appreciating myself. This soulful self love anthem is not the only inspiring song off her debut album HEAVN. Also featured on this playlist is Blk Girl Soldier, which highlights racist institutions in America and details the power of black women referencing powerful role models such as Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth.

I had to restrain myself from adding the whole of rapper Princess Nokia‘s debut album 1992 Deluxe onto this playlist as there is not one song which doesn’t in some way or another promote Princess Nokia‘s feminist values. In the end I managed to narrow it down to three: Mine, Brujas and TomboyMine is a track much like Solange‘s Don’t Touch My Hair, it addresses the racial microaggressions surrounding the questions that people ask about black and brown women’s hair. This track is either an anthem for women of colour or a necessary etiquette lesson to her white fans. In BrujasPrincess Nokia is embracing her heritage of witchcraft and using it to create her own energy and group of powerful women and Tomboy shows her breaking the beauty perceptions placed on women. Princess Nokia‘s entire debut album is so impressive as it breaks with rules of the rap genre by encompassing gothic metal elements and she never strays from her strongly held beliefs, 1992 Deluxe is her musical manifesto.

Next up we have another rapper who works towards breaking the beauty perceptions of women. Leikeli47 is always shown wearing a mask which she claims is to insure her fans are focusing on her music. Leikeli47 started making waves with her 2016 track Money, but the ones I have chosen are Girl Gang and Pussy Riot‘s Straight Outta Vagina, in which Leikeli47 is featured delivering the most feminist rap I have ever heard.

From the full frontal fearless Russian feminists that are Pussy Riot, to the part Icelandic  part British trio Dream Wife. To misquote 10 Things I Hate About You, Dream Wife can be described as angry girl music of the punk rock persuasion. I picked F.U.U ft Fever Dream (short for ‘fuck you up’) to be represent them on this playlist as it is probably their angriest, most empowering tune. Continuing along the rock vein is the Californian duo Deap Valley. They are so strongly feminist their last album was even named Femejism. Smile More is the angry girl anthem sick of patronising men telling them what to do and Walk of Shame is an uplifting tune about taking pride in promiscuity and it is personally my favourite song to listen to post-one-night-stand. Next up is Empress Of, an LA singer songwriter who I was very recently introduced to. Her song Go To Hell is a cheery indie tune in which she delightfully tells all those who don’t believe in her that they can go to hell.

To bring us to the end of this eclectic celebration of women in music I wanted to bring it home. The penultimate number on my playlist is by fresh faced Jorja Smith, who hails from London and performs regularly with Mahalia. Her soulful track Beautiful Little Fools is commentary on the beauty pressures young women feel today and was actually released on International Women’s Day 2017. Finally I decided to finish wit my favourite lady of dancehall, the Birmingham born, British-Jamaican rapper Stefflon Don who’s breakthrough track 16 Shots is a tribute to her hard as nails mother.

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