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VIBE MIX: Celebrate Women's History Month With Music's Leading Ladies Of Past, Present, & Future

From Beyonce to Salt-N-Pepa, to Princess Nokia and Leikeli47, join VIBE for a day-to-day countdown of hits.

It's Women's History Month, and to celebrate the all-encompassing nature of women around the world, VIBE is launching its monthly playlist.

For this month, the VIBE Mix will commemorate female artists who have provided us with girl power anthems, bops, and emotionally-rich tunes that have served as soundtracks to life. We've got the new, the old, and all that in between. From Beyonce to Salt-N-Pepa, to Princess Nokia and Leikeli47, join VIBE for a day-to-day countdown of hits.

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"Blk Grl Soldier"

Jamila Woods

For all the black girls out there, this song is for you. Jamila Woods delivered a powerful track that perfectly illustrates the power, and resilience of black women. It captures the complexities of vulnerable and empowering moments, while still offering an uplifting and whimsical tone. “She’s telepathic / Call it black girl magic / Yeah she scares the gov’ment / Deja Vu of Tubman.”

"Icy Grl"

Saweetie

Saweetie puts on for the Bay area with her twerkable single, “Icy Grl.” The rapper puts the boys to shame as she flexes her smooth flows over a vintage 90s beat. When you’re this icy, everything comes effortlessly. This is another one of those songs that you throw on when you’re hanging out with your girl gang and riding down the block. Summer isn’t here yet, but this is the perfect song to get you in the mood.

"Bodak Yellow"

Cardi B

What would the list be without rising star Cardi B? The Bronx native’s No. 1 hit, Bodak Yellow may have been a gradual hit, but a smash nonetheless. On the track, Cardi delivers a mix of aggressive and raw bars that will undoubtedly have you telling your haters to get lost. Whether you’re in the club or jamming in the car, you can’t go wrong with this confident banger.

"Tomboy"

Princess Nokia

We all have things we probably don’t like about ourselves and our bodies, but on Princess Nokia’s “Tomboy,” the afro-Latina rapper is embracing the qualities that make her unique. Her gritty and aggressive rhymes make you want to stand up and instigate something, while the beat will have you twerking well into the night. “With my little titties and my phat belly / I could take your man if you finna let me / It’s a guarantee that he won’t forget me / My body little / my soul wavy,” she raps over the earth-shattering beat.

"Braid Tuh'Da Flo(w)"

Leikeli47

Leikeli47’s track “Braid Tuh’Da Flo(w) is for all the bad a** girls rocking cornrows styles with attitude. Whether you’re spending hours in the salon or flexing the new style in the streets, Leikeli47’s gritty delivery will keep you on your toes. While the song seems to have a braggadocios undertone, it also celebrates the hustle in women to get what they want. “My girls don’t trip, my girls keep winning / My girls don’t lose, my girls just keep on.”

"Don't Touch My Hair"

Solange

Solange doesn’t want you to come anywhere near her gorgeous locks, and we don’t blame her. In 2016, the singer dropped her instant hit, “Don’t Touch My Hair.” The soft groove establishes boundaries and politely rejects the a common gesture that often alienates black women. While the act of touching someone’s hair out of turn can obviously provoke some irritation, this song is not to be read as an angry number; it’s more of a move to take back that power over self.

"Does in the Wind"

SZA

SZA’s single “Doves in the Wind” off of her debut album, Ctrl, is a definitely an empowering track. It’s an ode to women and the power of p***y. The songstress is both authoritative and sexy over the Cam O’bi-produced track, and Kendrick Lamar rounds out the single with a lengthy verse about a woman’s sex appeal. “Real n***as do not deserve p*ssy, meaning it’s more, you see right through walls.”

"Jumpin' Jumpin'"

Destiny's Child

This might seem like a savage cheating song to some, but it’s so much more. Destiny’s Child’s 2000 track “Jumpin’ Jumpin’ is a simple reminder to get out there and live your life, whether you’re tied up with a partner or not. It's a certified club jam that will make you ditch the PJs and have a much-needed fun night out with your girls. “Sexy women do that dance / Fly ladies work your man / Balling fella time to clown / We can get down now.”

"F.D.N."

Dreezy

On Dreezy’s f**kboy anthem, “F.D.N.,” the Chicago native comes with a mean punch, packing rapid flow verses about moving on from worthless men on top of a hard bounce beat. The track, which was part of the soundtrack for the second season of Issa Rae’s hit HBO show, Insecure, can also serve as the background music to any independent woman’s life who’s fed up with not getting the treatment she deserves.

"So Gone"

Monica

Many kids from this generation were introduced to Monica’s single “So Gone” thanks to Chance the Rapper’s viral #SoGoneChallenge, but the 2003 track has always been a smash. The hip-hop-influenced track is instantly infectious. Monica’s harmonious vocals practically float over the Missy Elliott-produced beat. Her girl-around-the-way attitude is felt as she raps on the third verse. “Kick down your doors and smack your chick / Just to let you know Monica not having it.” Put “ So Gone” on the shelf and come back to it in 10 more years, and it will still have aged wonderfully.

"None of Your Business"

Salt-N-Pepa

It’s been been nearly 25 years since Salt-N-Pepa released their anti-slut shaming single, “None of Your Business,” but it still resonates with today’s audience and social climate. It’s funny how music can capture a period or mirror one that is still present today. In many ways, that’s exactly what the 1994 track does.

“None of Your Business” is a fist-pumping, heart-thumping tune that is a protest against people (particularly men) and institutions that judge women for being sexy and expressing their voice and attitude in unconventional ways. This song is essentially flipping everyone the middle finger over a traditional hip-hop beat.

The reason the track ages so well, is because women still face harsh judgement in the workplace and everywhere else. If “None of Your Business” dropped today, it would mostly be accompanied by a hashtag (sort of like the #TimesUp movement). Nevertheless, it’s a reminder to push the envelope just as Salt-N-Pepa did back in the day and ultimately not give a f**k about what anybody else has to say about it.

"She's A Lady"

Lion Babe

Lion Babe’s cover of 1965 single, “She A Lady” is redefining what it actually means to be a woman of this generation. Admittedly, the original classic doesn’t exactly age that well. There are plenty of sexist undertones that wouldn’t exactly fly with today’s status quo, but Jillian Hervey breathes new life into the outdated single with sultry vocals and confidence.

There’s something really satisfying about this song being performed by a woman. Lyrics like, “But she always knows her place / She's got style, she's got grace, she's a winner,” seem to take new form. It’s as if she’s reclaiming the term “lady” and opening it up to be defined by a variety of different qualities.

The track oozes with sex appeal, thanks to the earthy, hip-hop beat and soothing ad-libs over the instrumentals. “She’s A Lady” is an empowering track, highlighting the not-so-traditional, renaissance woman.

"Did I"

Kehlani

They say bragging isn’t polite, but sometimes you have to stunt on your haters. Kehlani’s cocky anthem “Did I” boasts just enough of that confidence without going overboard.

“Did I” is the 3-minute reminder that a lot of people will doubt your greatness, but to keep pushing anyway. From the moment the base unravels over a synthetic guitar and screeching beat, Kehlani moves like water over the instrumentals with raspy, yet sweet vocals about her working her way from the bottom to the top. “You don’t know nothing ‘bout working your way from the bottom and earning every ring / You think we competing for rings, you think you playing in my league / But you couldn’t catch up if I took a break and vacationed for weeks on top of weeks,” she sings.

In Kehlani’s personal life and through her music, she continues to prove that tough situations, obstacles, and haters only make us stronger. She also endorses the idea that there’s nothing wrong with being confident.

"Sassy"

Rapsody

It’s the way that Rapsody reflects her own self worth in her music that is super attractive to other women who don’t fit the traditional, societal mold. Her single “Sassy” is an ode to her strong sense of self. She pulls from Maya Angelou’s uplifting poem, “Still I Rise,” (Does my sassiness upset you? / Why are you beset with gloom? / Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells / Pumping in my living room.”) to celebrate her attitude, rather than hide it. “Does my sassiness upset you? / Oh, you mad cuz I survived,” she rap-sings on the chorus.

It’s no surprise that “Sassy” was nominated for Best Rap Song at the Grammys. It’s retro 80s beat is bouncy and fun. And paired with the rapper's rhythmic flows, is the perfect feel-good anthem.

Celebrating femininity is undoubtedly timely. “Sassy” doesn’t only honor certain elements that make women special (“Diamonds tween my knees / oil well in my thighs”), but it also highlights the attributes that make women different, ultimately making it enjoyable for all types of women.

"Family Affair"

Mary J. Blige

In honor of Mary J. Blige making history at the Oscars (she’s the first performer to be simultaneously nominated for a song and acting role in 10 years), we thought it was only right that we give the fourth spot on our playlist to her iconic 2001 single, "Family Affair."

Is it dancery or dance soirée? OK, by now we’ve all come to the conclusion that it is in fact “dancery.” But the vocabulary used in the track’s chorus (“Let’s get it crunk up on, have fun up on / Up in this dancery”) is just the beginning of a long list of things that makes this song a certified classic.

The self-proclaimed Queen of Hip-Hop Soul delivered the perfect club hit, that will compel you to leave the “hateration” at the door and dance the night away. The single definitely stays true to Mary’s brand, with elements of the track alluding to past pain and torment. Even so, it seems to a be celebratory and inclusive anthem that encourages laughter and fun times with your girl gang.

"Make Me Feel"

Janelle Monae

Janelle Monae is like a sponge. She absorbs all that is pure and electric of the past (drawing inspiration from the greats like Michael Jackson, Prince, and Stevie Wonder), but is still able to maintain form, which ultimately helps her navigate current music waves. Monae’s entire discography is a testament to this notion, but her recent single, “Make Me Feel” fully demonstrates her elasticity.

“Make Me Feel” is a fusion of new and old. Built on the foundation of a psychedelic funk tune (one that could be reminiscent of the late Prince), Monae puts her own modern spin on it, flexing syrupy vocals. The chorus is one of the smoothest roller-coasters you’ll ever ride, packed with waves of high, mid, and low notes. “It’s like I’m powerful with a little bit of tender / An emotional, sexual bender / Mess me up, yeah, but no one does it better / There’s nothin’ better.”

Following the release of the video, which dropped simultaneously with the track audio, many fans dubbed the single a “bi-sexual anthem” due to Monae’s steamy interaction with actress Tessa Thompson and a male love interest. While the singer has not confirmed the title, the confidence and the matter of fact nature of succumbing to inner desires and emotions, seems to validate the idea that love is love. “That’s just the way that I feel now, baby / Good God! I can’t help it! Agh!”

Not Tonight (Ladies Night Remix)

Lil' Kim ft. Angie Martinez, Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, Da Brat, & Missy Elliott

More than 20 years ago, Lil’ Kim dropped her platinum record, “Not Tonight (Ladies Night Remix)” off of her highly acclaimed debut studio album, Hard Core. While there are a lot of things about the 1997 single that were spot on, its biggest (and most revolutionary) accomplishment was featuring an all-female cast: Angie Martinez, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, Da Brat and Missy Elliott.

The allure of “Not Tonight” could come from its nostalgic feel, which has much to do with it practically being a cover of Kool and the Gang’s 1979 disco classic “Ladies Night.” But its playable quality can mostly be attributed to the chemistry between each artist’s unique, but complimentary flows. From Martinez’s hypnotic verse to Left Eye’s spit fire flow and Da Brat’s gritty delivery, each lady held their own, bringing a distinct panache to the table. And to seal the deal, Missy Elliott’s silky vocals on the chorus made each transition as fluid as possible.

Listening to “Not Tonight (Ladies Night Remix)” today, gives you a dual sensation of old and new. It’s like a time capsule, cherishing all that was groundbreaking and intriguing about the '90s, but foreshadowing a female takeover in the future.

Formation

Beyoncé

 To kick off Women's Month on the right foot, our playlist is beginning with none other than Queen Beyonce's track, "Formation."

The certified-gold single, which was originally released in Feb. 2016, is by far the introduction to the singer's era of trend-forward and culturally sound material. "Formation" undoubtedly taps into a new realm, one that reaches a global stature. More importantly, the track ignites a particular flame in its female audience, alluding to the idea that women mirror as real-life saviors.

In Dec. 2017, it was reported that black women "saved" Alabama from political destruction after 96 percent of black females voted for Democrat Doug Jones, defeating accused child rapist, Republican Roy Moore. In essence, that is the formation that Beyonce so vividly illustrates in her reflective number. One woman is a problem; 96 percent of them, is a force.

Bey has a knack for masking content behind a sonically satisfying track. That gift heavily relies on production, which in this case can be attributed to Mike Will Made-It's assembly of synths and bass drums. The rhythmic pulses, which are drawn out by synthetic breaks in the song, make the refrain even more hard-hitting and memorable. "I like my baby heir with baby hair and afros / I like my negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils," she declares.

Lyrically speaking, "Formation" continues a common creed or philosophy that Beyonce has stressed throughout her career. It was there with  Destiny's Child's "Independent ' Women (Part I)," "Who Run The World (Girls)" and "Flawless. "I see it, I want it, I stunt, yellow bone it / I dream it, I work hard, I grind 'til I own it," she sings over the trap-infused beat. Later she reiterates her power saying: "I go hard, Take what’s mine, cause I slay." Translation: as women, we have power that manifests in our ability to bring dreams into fruition, grind well beyond the "nine to five"  timeframe, and of course, slay.

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Judge Sides With Nicki Minaj In Tracy Chapman Court Battle

A judge has sided with Nicki Minaj in her legal dispute with Tracy Chapman. U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips ruled that Minaj’s song “Sorry” falls under the “fair use” and not copyright infringement as Chapman claimed, Variety reports.

Minaj was reportedly unaware that her song, “Sorry,” featured lyrics and a bit of the melody from Chapman’s 1988 track, “Baby Can I Hold You” when it was recorded. She  reached out to Chapman to get permission to use the song but was ultimately turned down. Since she couldn't get legal clearance, the track never made it to the Queen album, but Chapman’s attorneys accused Minaj of leaking the track to Funkmaster Flex. Although Minaj confirmed sending Flex an Instagram message about the song, she denies actually sending it. “I had a change of heart,” she later testified. “I never sent the recording.”

Flex said that he obtained the recording from a “blogger,” not Minaj.

In her decision, Judge Phillips reportedly noted that artists tend to “experiment” with music before they attempt to get proper licensing.

“Artists usually experiment with works before seeking licenses from rights holders and rights holders typically ask to see a proposed work before approving a license,” the judge wrote. “A ruling uprooting these common practices would limit creativity and stifle innovation within the music industry.”

Despite the ruling, the question remains over whether or not Minaj should be held liable for the song being leaked. Last month, Minaj’s attorneys filed court papers requesting that Chapman’s motion for a summary judgment be denied in full.

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Big Sean Debuts ‘Deep Reverence’ Feat. Nipsey Hussle

Big Sean delivered his collaboration with Nipsey Hustle “Deep Reverence” on Monday (Aug. 24). The 32-year-old rapper decided to drop the song after  finishing up his highly anticipated Detroit 2 album due out next week.

“My heart and my gut was saying not only do people deserve that song right now,”  Sean tweeted on Tuesday (Aug. 25). “I felt like hearing nips [sic] voice, his presence and the energy of the song itself was needed and deserved it’s own moment!”

A snippet of the song debuted during Hit-Boy and Boi1da's Verzuz battle in April. Sean said that he has wanted to release the song ever since then.

“My label (a few people there, not the whole label) thought it wasn’t smart to put this song out ahead of my album, they told my team I should hold on to it...they still supported my decision in the end tho [sic],” he explained in another tweet.

The record opens with a clever and poignant verse from Nipsey. “F*ck rap I’m a street legend, block love me with a deep reverence,” he raps. “I was birthed in a C-section/Hella cops and police presence, we got opps so we keep weapons. We on y’all block while y’all eat breakfast. A lot of shots, we broke street records. Watch how you talk, I got reflexes.”

 

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Rest In Power bro! The World miss you n need to hear your voice! DEEP REVERENCE OUT NOW 🏁💙🙏🏾 Prod by. @hitboy & @g.ryomo

A post shared by BIGSEAN (@bigsean) on Aug 24, 2020 at 9:07pm PDT

On Sean’s verse, he reveals that he reached out to Kendrick Lamar after Nipsey was killed and addresses the alleged beef between him and the Compton MC. Fans also believe that he hinted at  Jhené Aiko suffering a miscarriage. “Should be a billionaire based on the time off I’m not takin,’” raps Sean. “Probably why the sh*t with me got crazy and we lost a baby.”

Detroit 2 is executive produced by Hit-Boy, Sean and Kanye West. The album drops on Sept. 4.

Listen to “Deep Reverence” below.

 

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My fifth album #Detroit2 September 4th 🌎✊🏾🌹🖤 🌟 🙏🏾

A post shared by BIGSEAN (@bigsean) on Aug 24, 2020 at 11:15am PDT

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Listen To Brandy's Highly Anticipated ‘B7’ Album

Brandy’s new album, B7, arrived on Friday (July 31). Led by the single “Baby Mama,” the 15-track album about love, heartbreak and growth, includes appearances from  Chance the Rapper, Daniel Caeser, and Brandy's teenage daughter, Sy'rai Smith, who joins her mother on the track “High Heels.”

Along with the new album -- her first since 2012 -- Brandy debuted the music video for her latest single, “Borderline.”

“I spilled so much of my heart on this album,” she proudly told fans during a listening party on YouTube on Thursday (July 30).

In a more sobering moment from the virtual party, Brandy opened up about the death of her friend and producer, Lashawn Daniels. “It feels very strange although I’m excited and grateful to have the music out, it’s just hard not having him here to hear the complete project,” she said.

“But I take him with me wherever I go. I know everything he ever said to me, ever taught me, and what he told me, I can hold onto that. If I ever feel down about my gift there’s a few things that he told me to remind me that I have no reason to feel down at all.”

Speaking with Billboard, the Grammy winner discussed the importance of Black female R&B artists sharing content, especially during these turbulent times.

“I believe that music heals. Music is the language that we all speak. It is what we all need, and I feel like we need it more now than we ever have,” she explained. “This is the year where we all need to feel like we have something to get us through. ... I was a little hesitant with putting out music in this time because, of course, you want to speak to the times. And I'm thinking, ‘My music is not about exactly what's going on right now.’ But then I thought, ‘But this is the time where people need to feel like they have something to just escape and just help them heal.’ ...that's what made me feel better about releasing [the album].

“And I think that we don’t want to feel alone,” added Brandy. “We need to feel community, we need to feel togetherness, we need to feel love right now. And I think music is the best way to feel that. It’s the shortcut to feeling that right away.”

Stream B7 below.

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