I love the month of June. It’s not only the start of summer, but it’s a celebration of Blackness. This tends to be mostly due to the honoring of Juneteenth. There are so many events now hosted in cities across the nation, for Juneteenth. A holiday that was mostly ignored up until 10 years ago. There are parades, festivals, BBQs…and a Becky better not call 911 on not a one 😉 June is also a fun month because it’s a time to pay homage to the musical contributions Black folks have made in this country.
I think this year, Black Music Month, is even more exciting with the recent success of Lil Nas X. A rapper who throwed everyone off with his country hit, Old Town Road. When Billboard and people tried to dismiss the song as not country enough, and that Lil Nas X had no place in country music, folks started dropping facts left and right about the fact that country music was created by Black folks. Lil Nas X has a right to be in the space more than any white country singer living or dead (yeah, I said it!)
Besides the triumph of Lil Nas X, June highlights the return of three OG r&b goddesses in the game: Ciara, Kelly Rowland, and Mary J Blige. The singers combined total over 60 years in the music industry(!) All three ladies have dropped new songs within the last month or so. And they show, they still got it going on.
Ciara: At 33, CiCi, is the youngest of the trio. CiCi is also my girl crush. She exudes a natural sexiness. It must be that Scorpio vibe. I’ve liked Ciara since Goodies. She picked up where sadly, Aaliyah, was not able to complete. Ciara brought the eclectic dance movies, fun uptempo songs, and sleek style. Since then, Ciara’s albums have been hit or miss to me, mostly miss. I did think her album Ciara was pretty good. It had the cut “Body Party,” once again showing the sensual side of Ciara. But the album got bogged down in the Future nonsense. Y’all already know that gossip 🙂 Ciara didn’t really promote the album and it was quickly forgotten.
I think CiCi has bounced back with another solid album. Beauty Marks marks Ciara’s point in her career of transitioning into adulthood (married w/two children), self- reflection, and taking it to the next level. Although, ironically, her song “Level Up” is the song I liked least on the album. It worked my nerves, but I got the gist of what she was going for. My favorite tune (and the best on the whole album imo) is “Greatest Love.” I think because, yet again, CiCi knows how to do sexy. That is her strength.
I definitely recommend Beauty Marks to bump in your ride this sizzling summer.
Kelly Rowland: The underrated star of Destiny’s Child (yeah, I said it!), released an EP of three songs. Yep, three songs. But they all jam. The Kelly Rowland Edition features “Don’t You Worry,” “Diamonds,“ and “See Me.” “Don’t You Worry” is the highlight of the EP. If Rowland doesn’t come out with a video for this song. I don’t know what to say. It’s a perfect summer tune. These songs are just a teaser for a full album that will be released later this year. I can’t wait to see what Rowland brings this time around. If these songs are any indication, it’s going to be a hot album!
Mary J Blige: And last, but never least, the Queen of all things…Mary Jane Blige. Yes, I am a MJB groupie (that’s why she has the biggest picture 😉 Mary has had it on lock for over THIRTY YEARS. I’ll never forget Mary’s debut on Video Soul (Gen-Xers know what I’m talking about), with “You Remind Me.” I liked her right away. No, Mary isn’t the greatest technical singer, but she has that thang that makes you want to hear more. She connects to her music and knows her audience. She takes neither for granted, for the most part. Now Mary is back with her umpteenth hit with a little help from Nas (I can take him or leave him). She’s gearing up for her 16th studio album. I know she is going to bring the heat. She’s Mary J Blige. Duh!
“All those sad songs don’t break me/just gave me a record year/Ooh, ooh. Ooh, ooh”
“you think material things is what I need/but all I ever wanted was you”
There have been so many fabulous things happening this month like LGBTQIA Pride and Juneteenth. It’s easy to forget that June is also Black Music Month. This is a great time to upload your playlist with tunes from iconic Black singers or listen to fresh Black talent.
If you are looking for suggestions for summer jams…check out these Black women singers who dropped new music this month.
Joi: Props to Janelle Monáe, Kelela, and SZA. But before these ladies there was Joi. Joi was doing the quirky/alternative/Afrofuturistic music and imagery back in the early 90’s. She was before her time, so she struggled with mainstream acceptance. However, she has been able to cultivate a strong underground fanbase. Recently, an amazing article detailed her brilliant career. Personally, my favorite album from Joi is Star Kitty’s Revenge (“I’m missin’ you/ wishing you were here baby”). She’s back with the album SIR Rebekkah Holylove. A wonderful opportunity to support a trailblazer in Black music.
Macy Gray: It took me a minute to catch on to Macy’s new video. I kept thinking why is Evan Ross in this? Then it clicked. The video is a take on Diana Ross’s movie “Lady Sings the Blues.” Of course, Evan is her son. He is playing Billie Dee Williams’s role. (If you are a Millennial…Google all this 😉 Gray’s song “Sugar Daddy” is pretty catchy. I raised an eyebrow when I read it was co-written with Megan Trainor. It explains why it sounds bubble gum poppish. But Gray can pull off any song with her textured vocals. And at 50, I know she’s probably trying to catch the attention of new fans. So, a diva has to do what she has to do. I ain’t mad at her and look forward to the album.
Nao: I came across Nao’s music a few years ago. It’s shocking she isn’t more popular. Like Ms. Gray, she has a unique and tantalizing sound. I love her voice. I was excited when she posted snippets of new music on her website. Then she released “Another Lifetime.” This is my current theme song. I like to randomly pick theme songs for some reason. In any case, this is a nice summer cut.
“I swear I won’t run/In another life, I’ll keep us bounded”