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Panama Jackson Panama Jackson Aug 06, 2019. 2 comments

Rapsody's Upcoming Album, Eve, Pays Homage to Black Women; 1st Single 'Ibtihaj' Keeps It All the Way Live

Rapsody's Upcoming Album, Eve, Pays Homage to Black Women; 1st Single 'Ibtihaj' Keeps It All the Way Live

Rapsody, the North Carolina lyricist known in hip-hop circles as a rapper’s rapper, has consistently delivered on both her individual releases and features. In 2017, Rapsody (born Marlanna Evans) dropped her critically-acclaimed and Grammy-nominated album, Laila’s Wisdom (Jamla/RocNation). The first record on the album—the title track—has been in my personal rotation nonstop ever since and it...

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Panama Jackson Panama Jackson Jul 30, 2019. 8 comments

7 Thoughts About Chance the Rapper's 'Debut' Album, The Big Day

7 Thoughts About Chance the Rapper's 'Debut' Album, The Big Day

On Friday, July 26, after much leadup and life changes for one Chancelor Bennett, aka Chance the Rapper, he independently released his “debut” album, The Big Day. Boasting a shit-ton of songs, largely about relationships and the leadup to “the big day”—his wedding, presumably—he uses his “big day” (“debut” album release day) to focus on his maturity and where he is in life.

Chance puts a lot...

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Maiysha Kai Maiysha Kai Jul 26, 2019. 19 comments

'Hot Girl Summer,' Who? Drop Everything, Because Lizzo Just Dropped That 'Tempo'—With Missy Elliott

'Hot Girl Summer,' Who? Drop Everything, Because Lizzo Just Dropped That 'Tempo'—With Missy Elliott

I been waitin’ for this one....Turn it up!

Thought you were having a “Hot Girl Summer”? According to Lizzo, it’s “Thick Bitch Summer”—and we just got our summer anthem (actually, we’ll take both, please). They say never meet your heroes, but our favorite sangin’, rappin’, body-positive phenom Lizzo just teamed up with her sangin’, rappin’, body-positive idol (and ours), the eternally...

19 Comments

Maiysha Kai Maiysha Kai Jul 16, 2019. 6 comments

‘I Am a Champion for My Brown, Dark Women’: Living Legend Missy Elliott Covers Marie Claire

‘I Am a Champion for My Brown, Dark Women’: Living Legend Missy Elliott Covers Marie Claire

Fun, fly fact: Monday marked the 22nd anniversary of Missy Elliott’s debut drop, Supa Dupa Fly.

If that anniversary astounds you, it’s likely because aside from the fact that we don’t feel 22 years older (that was legit half my lifetime ago, at this point), the song, “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly),” still slaps, proving Missy was always well ahead of her time.

“We created a sound that we didn’t even...

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Maiysha Kai Maiysha Kai Jul 10, 2019.

'We Want H.E.R': R&B's Newest Star Talks Fame with Vogue, Takes Stage at AfroPunk

'We Want H.E.R': R&B's Newest Star Talks Fame with Vogue, Takes Stage at AfroPunk

She may seem to hide behind sunglasses, but 21-year-old Gabi Wilson—better known as H.E.R.—has made it her mission to be at ease in the spotlight, as she told Vogue while prepping for last weekend’s AfroPunk festival in her home base of Brooklyn, NY.

“[My style] is straight-up comfortable,” she said, confessing that she doesn’t really suffer from stage fright. “Like, I wear sweats on...

Panama Jackson Panama Jackson Jun 21, 2019. 9 comments

30 Days of Musical Blackness With VSB, Day 20: Phyllis Hyman, 'Be Careful (How You Treat My Love)'

30 Days of Musical Blackness With VSB, Day 20: Phyllis Hyman, 'Be Careful (How You Treat My Love)'

There’s almost no way I could do a series like this without at least one nod to my second-favorite singer of forever, Phyllis Hyman. Turns out, almost four years ago, before VSB became part of The Root and before we started writing full time, I wrote everything I was going to write today in a previous article . So I’m going to quote myself at length here:

“I remember the first time I heard a...

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Tonja Renée Stidhum Tonja Renée Stidhum Jun 19, 2019. 13 comments

What Is the Best and Blackest Movie Soundtrack?

What Is the Best and Blackest Movie Soundtrack?

It’s African American Music Appreciation Month (lovingly known as Black Music Month) and what better way to celebrate than to honor just how much music affects another celebrated medium? That’s right, we’re talking film.

While Bill Cosby and O.J. Simpson were attempting to make this the most bizarre week in celebrity social media history, Jamie Foxx decided to bring it back to good ol’...

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Panama Jackson Panama Jackson Jun 18, 2019. 6 comments

30 Days of Musical Blackness With VSB, Day 18: The Temptations 'Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)'

30 Days of Musical Blackness With VSB, Day 18: The Temptations 'Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)'

As a child, I grew up hearing The Temptations, but I don’t recall really listening. Of course, I knew of Motown and thus I knew some of their biggest songs, some by heart, even if I wasn’t entirely up on game. “Papa Was A Rolling Stone,” and “My Girl,” and “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg,” are all songs from my childhood. But 1998 changed all of that. In November 1998, NBC aired a somewhat fictitious...

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Panama Jackson Panama Jackson Jun 16, 2019. 2 comments

30 Days of Musical Blackness With VSB, Day 16: Gladys Knight & the Pips ‘Daddy Could Swear, I Declare’

30 Days of Musical Blackness With VSB, Day 16: Gladys Knight & the Pips ‘Daddy Could Swear, I Declare’

Happy Father’s Day!

You know what’s difficult to find? Positive songs about black fathers. I’m not saying there aren’t any, I’m just saying that the genre, as it were, could stand some more entries. So today, I decided to go with a song by Gladys Knight & the Pips. The song celebrates dads, or Gladys’ dad, by talking about what he could do almost better than anyone else: “Daddy Could Swear, I...

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Panama Jackson Panama Jackson Jun 15, 2019. 2 comments

30 Days of Musical Blackness With VSB, Day 15: Fela Kuti ‘Lady’

30 Days of Musical Blackness With VSB, Day 15: Fela Kuti ‘Lady’

I’d heard of Fela Kuti before I heard Fela. But when I finally made the discovery of Nigeria’s Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti aka Fela Anikulapo Kuti aka Fela, I was done for.

Actually, that’s a little untrue. After being told to check out his music I went out and bought the Best of the Black President double album and because the songs are so long I skimmed a lot until I got to

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Panama Jackson Panama Jackson Jun 15, 2019. 5 comments

30 Days of Musical Blackness With VSB, Day 14: Sister Nancy, 'Bam Bam'

30 Days of Musical Blackness With VSB, Day 14: Sister Nancy, 'Bam Bam'

I literally have zero recollection of the first time I heard Sister Nancy’s “Bam Bam.” I don’t remember it at all before college though, so I’ll just go ahead and assume I heard it at the same place I heard so many dope songs during my college tenure: (what we called) “Fashion Fridays” at Spelman College’s Lower Manley, which was the bottom of the student center.

Every Friday, there were DJs...

5 Comments

Panama Jackson Panama Jackson Jun 12, 2019. 10 comments

30 Days of Musical Blackness With VSB, Day 12: Luther Vandross, 'So Amazing'

30 Days of Musical Blackness With VSB, Day 12: Luther Vandross, 'So Amazing'

I don’t know what you can say about a song already called “So Amazing” that literally lives up to its title, even though the “amazing” being referenced is love. I mean, it really is so amazing to be loved, even following people to the moon and the sky above. Not much has to be said about Luther Vandross and his voice. On my list of GOAT singers, Luther is definitely top 5. It seems like there...

10 Comments

Panama Jackson Panama Jackson Jun 11, 2019.

30 Days of Musical Blackness With VSB, Day 11: Fresh Start Worship, ‘Mention’

30 Days of Musical Blackness With VSB, Day 11: Fresh Start Worship, ‘Mention’

I listen to a lot of music, from hip-hop to country to rock ’n roll to even Celtic (seriously, some of that harp work jams ... on the one), but when I need to hear something that digs into my soul, I go straight for gospel, and more specifically, praise and worship.

Some of this upbringing, but I attribute a lot of it to being a parent. See, in the mornings when taking my kids to school, I...

Panama Jackson Panama Jackson Jun 11, 2019. 4 comments

30 Days of Musical Blackness With VSB, Day 10: Geto Boys, 'My Mind's Playing Tricks On Me' x Isaac Hayes, 'Hung Up On My Baby'

30 Days of Musical Blackness With VSB, Day 10: Geto Boys, 'My Mind's Playing Tricks On Me' x Isaac Hayes, 'Hung Up On My Baby'

Like many of us, I spent various moments yesterday reading mixed reporting on the status of Bushwick Bill, member of pioneering Houston rap group, Geto Boys.

A few weeks ago, we were all met with news that Bill, born Richard Shaw, had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. When the news came last night that he’d succumbed to his cancer , a wave of sadness came over me. When I started...

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Panama Jackson Panama Jackson Jun 09, 2019. 6 comments

30 Days of Musical Blackness With VSB, Day 9: Ray J, 'One Wish'

30 Days of Musical Blackness With VSB, Day 9: Ray J, 'One Wish'

I hear you looking at me right now like, “How did Ray J end up ‘round here?” And to that I say, despite the fact that I have stated very plainly that I’m a fan of one Willie Ray Norwood, I didn’t put Ray J on this list, I put “One Wish” on this list because this song is absolutely fire. And it has always been. This was during the era when Ray J went to certified hitmaker Rodney “Darkchild”...

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Panama Jackson Panama Jackson Jun 08, 2019. 2 comments

Raphael Saadiq Is About to Make Your Summer Better With the August Release of His New Album, Jimmy Lee

Raphael Saadiq Is About to Make Your Summer Better With the August Release of His New Album, Jimmy Lee

Raphael Saadiq, the most underappreciated R&B artist of all time , is about to bring forth the sound and light with his Aug. 23 release, Jimmy Lee. It will be his first solo release in eight years, following up his 2011 release, Stone Rollin’.

This album comes fresh off the heels of his amazing performance at The Roots Picnic alongside The Soulquarians (which I attended and that man hasn’t...

2 Comments

Panama Jackson Panama Jackson Jun 07, 2019. 3 comments

30 Days of Musical Blackness With VSB, Day 6: Oddisee, 'That's Love'

30 Days of Musical Blackness With VSB, Day 6: Oddisee, 'That's Love'

Oddisee is one of the hardest working artists in music. And I say music, and not just hip-hop, because his catalog is so expansive that it’s unfair to limit him to the genre he’s most well known for. And that’s if you’re familiar at all. Oddisee seems to live in that interesting space of being supremely highly respected amongst peers and folks who are aware of him and others who haven’t quite...

3 Comments

Panama Jackson Panama Jackson Jun 05, 2019. 4 comments

30 Days of Musical Blackness With VSB, Day 5: Letta Mbulu, 'Mahlalela (Lazy Bones)'

30 Days of Musical Blackness With VSB, Day 5: Letta Mbulu, 'Mahlalela (Lazy Bones)'

Today, we’re going international with our Black Music Month love. As a hip-hop head who also tried his hand at music production, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time crate digging, searching through entire obscure record label catalogs, hoping to come across the perfect sample. Well, that’s how I came across Letta Mbulu’s banger of a song, “Mahlalela.”

Letta was an artist working with...

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Panama Jackson Panama Jackson Jun 04, 2019. 12 comments

30 Days of Musical Blackness With VSB, Day 4: Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway, 'Be Real Black For Me'

30 Days of Musical Blackness With VSB, Day 4: Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway, 'Be Real Black For Me'

Since first discovering Donny Hathaway, he’s been my favorite singer ever. His version of “A Song For You” is one of the few musical compositions to ever bring tears to my eyes and I’ve made it a point to own every ownable composition of his in multiple formats. I’m also a Roberta Flack fan, though a very choice encounter some years ago forever threw our nonexistent relationship into...

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Panama Jackson Panama Jackson Jun 03, 2019. 6 comments

30 Days of Musical Blackness With VSB, Days 2 and 3: Tank and The Bangas, 'Spaceships' + The Roots 'Act Too (The Love Of My Life)'

30 Days of Musical Blackness With VSB, Days 2 and 3: Tank and The Bangas, 'Spaceships' + The Roots 'Act Too (The Love Of My Life)'

You’re getting a twofer today; it’s a celebration, bitches! This weekend I made my way up to Philadelphia for the 12th annual Roots Picnic (whole article comin’) to celebrate my 40th birthday (more on this coming soon, too) and because of the amount of drinking and shenanigans I participated in, Day 2 got lost in the sauce. But you can’t have a Day 3 without a Day 2 so, the two songs today...

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