As Black History Month continues, we aim to celebrate the Black experience — one that, throughout history, is told by music in every genre. While we could compile a list of powerful Black girl anthems, this playlist highlights every part of being a Black girl, from empowering messages of self-love to honest moments of vulnerability. Here are 10 songs that radiate #BlackGirlMagic.
BROWN SKIN GIRL – Blue Ivy, SAINt JHN, Beyoncé, WizKid
Originally performed for the live-action “Lion King” movie, “BROWN SKIN GIRL” is an unapologetic exaltation of Black beauty, in every form it exists. With lyrics like “I love everything about you, from your nappy curls / To every single curve, your body natural,” Beyoncé and her daughter Blue Ivy remind Black girls to love themselves, a welcome reminder in a world that often looks down on darker skin and afrocentric features.
Peng Black Girls Remix – ENNY, Jorja Smith
On “Peng Black Girls,” British singer/rapper/songwriter ENNY delivers a love letter to Black girls worldwide. The song gained popularity after R&B artist Jorja Smith hopped on the remix in 2020 and their live COLORS performance went viral. Smith’s verse comes in smoothly, advocating for more Black female representation in media, from fashion runways to executive teams.
Good Morning Gorgeous – Mary J. Blige
On “Good Morning Gorgeous,” Mary J. Blige is all about daily affirmations. While the verses discuss struggles with self-love, depression and body image, the chorus tells itself, “good morning gorgeous.” Emphasizing that she’s not advocating for a physical makeover, Blige’s song holds an important message: that in the midst of a struggle, always keep something to center yourself.
Miss Shiney – Kaiit
On this upbeat tune with a groovy baseline and confident vocals, “Miss Shiney” reflects on the artist’s struggles with self-doubt and writer’s block. Kaiit reminds herself and listeners that at the end of the day, “you your biggest critic, girl.” Released in 2019, this single won the award for Best Soul/R&B Release at the 2019 ARIA Music Awards, an event celebrating artists from the Australian music industry.
Don’t Worry About It – Wande, Porsha Love
Wande and Porsha Love come in quick on their 2021 single, “Don’t Worry About It.” As the chorus says, “We been puttin’ in this work / When you talk this big and you wins this big / E’erybody ’bout to know about it,” the two women aren’t shy discussing their achievements. Detailing their journeys from the beginning of their careers, they encourage listeners to keep working towards their goals, have faith and ignore naysayers.
Wasteland – Tierra Whack
Tierra Whack may have a line of men waiting to date her, but she’s not entertaining a single one. Released in 2019 as part of her Whack History Month album, “Wasteland” is about self-empowerment and focusing on reaching goals, even if that means staying single. Though she sings in a monotone voice, Whack employs humor with funny quips like “We can’t FaceTime / You got Android” and “You was on a bike / I was Rolls Royce.”
Girl Like Me – Jazmine Sullivan ft. H.E.R.
Featuring two Black powerhouse vocalists, Jazmine Sullivan and H.E.R. bare hearts on “Girl Like Me.” Raw and open, the two sing about a broken relationship, the resulting loneliness and the frustration over being left for a younger, prettier woman. Full of impressive runs and riffs, Sullivan’s NPR Tiny Desk performance went viral on TikTok, with others trying to imitate her soulful style.
Evil Eye – Bellah
Over a dancey afrobeat rhythm and melodic baseline, Bellah’s voice shines through on “Evil Eye.” With references to her home country Nigeria and her faith in God, Bellah realizes that although she is experiencing hardship, she has a support system to lean on. An honest confession, Bellah admits that although she is “One-of-a-kind, I’m special,” she still cannot handle life alone and needs prayers and protection.
Good Days – SZA
When the track opens with birds chirping and an acoustic guitar, “Good Days” already feels like a lullaby. Utilizing layered vocals and a relaxed rhythm, SZA is a bright-eyed optimist, turning away from past negativity and focusing on the good that the future holds. “Good Days” is a mantra arguing that even in the midst of adversity, there are “good days always inside.”
Put Your Records On – Corinne Bailey Rae
Rounding off this list with a classic, Corinne Bailey Rae’s hit “Put Your Records On” is an uplifting celebration of Blackness, authenticity and embracing your inner beauty. Its inspiring message encourages listeners to find joy in small moments, from “sipping tea in a bar by the roadside” to watching girls “double-dutch on the concrete.” Featuring a groovy guitar and a cowbell, this song begs listeners to dance. Play this song on a cloudy day and it’ll have you on your feet in no time.
Listen to the #BlackGirlMagic playlist here.
Featured image courtesy of Julia Martins.