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Monday, April 06, 2020 — Houston, TX °

Women Making Waves: A Women’s History Month Playlist

athena
Courtesy Stones Throw Records

By Lia Pikus     3/3/20 9:40pm

March is a wonderful month. Spring peeks its head around the corner, break provides a respite from the chaos of college life, and once again I get to make what I believe to be the one perfect march madness bracket (which, despite my conviction, always flops immediately). Another amazing and arguably more important thing about March: it’s women’s history month, a time to formally celebrate the brilliance and bravery of women of the past who have paved the way for women present. 

Like most spaces, the music industry is a space in which male voices have been systematically privileged over women’s, a reality which continues to affect artists and listeners alike. Although the field is surely becoming more equitable, I still sometimes find myself scrolling through playlists, some of them my own, in which only a fraction of the included artists are women. Shifting power dynamics to challenge patriarchal conceptions of what music is deemed palatable and to elevate women’s voices, though a hefty task, starts with simply listening to more women, especially queer women and women of color. Making active efforts to make these voices the default rather than the exception is vital, not only because changing institutional structures requires active effort, but also because the art they create is fantastic and deserves to be celebrated. Thus, this March, I decided to bring together some of the women that are changing the way music is created and consumed in the present into one, huge, glorious playlist. I would love to write about every single woman included, but that would most likely take the entire day to read, so here’s a little bit about five of my current favorite artists/artists that are making particularly notable waves both in and outside the world of music:  

  1. Charming, witty and confident, Megan Thee Stallion has enamored audiences all over the world, growing to global prominence after introducing the viral phenomenon of ‘hot girl summer’ in 2019. Hailing from our very own Houston, Megan grew up listening to chopped and screwed rap, a homegrown genre created by the legendary DJ Screw. Citing UGK founding member Pimp C — another pillar of the ’90s Houston rap scene — as one of her most important musical influences, Megan draws on Space City’s rich rap history in the creation of her own suave style (linked here is one of my favorite videos of Megan freestyling over Houston rapper Mike Jones’ hit “Still Tippin”). Yet even while directly continuing Houston’s musical legacy, Megan also effortlessly flips male-dominated narratives of the past, embracing her sexuality with open arms and empowering her female audiences to do the same. From her clever lyricism to her flawless execution, Megan Thee Stallion is hands-down one of the best rappers making music right now, and she’s only on the rise.
  2. The best way to describe Indian American artist Raveena’s music is the feel of a gentle hug on a firefly-lit summer’s evening. Sweet and enveloping, Raveena’s mellow psychedelia draws her listeners into her own little bubble of reality through soft hearted lyrics and tender soundscapes. A survivor of trauma, Raveena has made it her artistic mission to foster vulnerability and love through her music, giving others the space and care they need to bloom out of their own lived experiences.  If you’re looking for strength in softness, Raveena is your woman. 
  3. Drawing from her roots performing spoken word poetry, Chicago poet and rapper Noname’s music has been acclaimed by a wide audience since her feature on Chance the Rapper’s mixtape “Acid Rap.” However, after announcing her retirement from music (for reasons which I don’t have the proper space to get into in this article, but that you can read about here), Noname now dedicates her time to activism, hosting a nation-wide book club with meetings all over the country, selecting books that uplift voices of color and “speak on human conditions in critical and original ways.” You can follow the club on Instagram to keep up on the selections or subscribe to the club online — all proceeds go towards establishing chapters of the book club inside prisons nationwide. 
  4. For somebody like myself who grew up on ’70s psychedelia, Weyes Blood is an artist whose music hits especially close to home. Mixing psychedelic pop with thought-provoking lyrics, Weyes Blood is ushering in psych-rock’s future by looking towards the genre’s past. Her 2019 album “Titanic Rising” was the soundtrack to my 2019 fall semester, and you know what: I think I listened to less George Harrison for it. 
  5. Brittney Denise Parks, known by her stage name as Sudan Archives, is the exemplar of a triple threat. A self-taught violinist, singer-songwriter and self-producer, Sudan Archives draws her inspiration from Sudanese fiddling and R&B, making music that has carved out its own unique niche in the avante-garde. Her first full length album “Athena” was released in 2019, and although I only included one track on the playlist for consistency's sake, I highly recommend a full album listen-through. 


Without further ado: a playlist of some of my current favorite artists, who also happen to be women. If there’s any women and/or songs you think I’ve fatally overlooked, email me at lcp2@rice.edu




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