The last month in music has been for the ladies. Both Cardi B and Drake dropped new music that was low key and high key made for female consumption and then when we thought that was done Janelle Monae pulled up in vagina pants with her video for #PYNK.
Drake’s “Nice for what” isn’t just made for female consumption but in true Drake fashion, Aubrey went all the way there in celebrating women and cementing his place as your girl’s favorite ‘singing nigga’. Nice for What is classic intentionally charming Drake. It’s difficult not to love him – he just seems like a genuinely good goofy guy who just wants to love and support you. Your parents would probably love Drake if you brought him home and he’d get along with your grandma and her church friends. In Nice For What, over a really funky bounce beat, Drake reminds you he knows how hard you’re working and he’s really proud of you. This is really all you need to hear in the fourth month of the year when waking up in the morning is getting harder and the weather is getting cooler. Thank you, Aubrey.
If you’re paying attention, you’ll realize that the only pop girls (of color) who stick around are the ones who aren’t scared to assert their power. When you think about Rihanna, Beyoncé, Nicki, Mariah Carey and most recently Cardi B you start to see a pattern of women of color who have carved out a place for themselves in an industry that isn’t too kind to women. Even the way they use their sex appeal, which is often a mode for objectifying women, is entirely on their own terms. The music they make, the diva reputation and the control of their public persona are inextricable. I make the distinction between popstars of color and your Celine Dions and Taylor Swifts on purpose because White women are generally afforded more chances to come back and try again whereas when black musicians have one flopped album or take a year or 2 off, it’s generally the end of that career.
It is from this lens that I view Cardi’s debut album. In a nutshell, our good sis did not come to play, she came to secure the bag and she is not willing to apologize for all her magic. In the tradition of the pop star powerhouses who have come before her, Cardi is clearly out to assert her place. What is endearing however is, even as she touts her ‘tough girl from the Bronx’ persona – she also let herself be very vulnerable on this album. She gave us an album full of quotes to caption all our post break up glow up pictures as well as our thirst trap snaps. It’s an album full of gems like “Bae Issa snack, he says Issa entree. With them pretty as twins, I look like Beyonce”. More importantly, she’s made sure the world sees that Bodak Yellow was not a fluke, Cardi actually can spit. There are no skippable tracks on this one but my personal faves have to be “Ring” which features Kelhani, “Best Life” featuring Chance the Rapper and Money Bag.
Janelle opens Pynk with the words “Pink like the inside of your…”. After her 2 previous singles Django Jane and Make me feel, I didn’t think I could love her more but I’ve never been more wrong. Pynk, like Make Me Feel, has the late great Prince written all over it. As someone who has been rooting for Janelle Monae and watching her hits and misses over the past decade, I think she has finally come into her own with this funk-infused sound. The visuals for this video are otherworldly. As you’d expect on a song that’s an ode to vaginas, she wears a lot of pink and there are beautiful women in every turn and crevice. It’s yet another unapologetic anthem and although we loved seeing her in black and white, I’m so happy she has started to embrace color so boldly.
It’s so great that this year has given us so much empowering girl power music to bump to in the car on Saturday night. In a time of #MeToo, it’s beyond exciting to see this consciousness bleed into the music world too.