In the chaos, trauma, and relentless uncertainty that consumed this year, black women still found a way to deliver on much-needed self-expression. Here are some of 2020’s best works that speak to the new-age experience of black womanhood.

Ungodly Hour — Chloe X Halle

Image for post
Image for post

Ungodly Hour is beyond ethereal, inviting us into a sonic universe where black women are nothing less than the epicenter. Defined by saintlike harmonies, futuristic production, and a taste of old-school R&B, Ungodly Hour echoes the past, while blueprinting the future. At a glance, the sophomore album of the undeniable duo seems to be a coming of age story, telling the tale of losing a first love, while finding yourself in the process. But in reality, Ungodly Hour is a love letter to the songstresses themselves.

“Baby girl, It’s your world, baby girl/Do it for the girls, all around the world” — Chloe X Halle…

New week. New Music. New Takeaways. Let’s dig deep and discuss what hip-hop’s newest drops uncover.

Image for post
Image for post
Source: Billboard

Nostalgia always wins

Artists using old wins to propel new ones is nothing new, but nostalgia in these times undoubtedly hits different.

Anniversary and Savage Mode II epitomize “playing up the past”, serving as anticipated sequels to two beloved albums, and surely beloved times.

For Bryson, Anniversary is no Trap Soul — but it isn't supposed to be. It’s the ideal evolved effort. …

Ho,Why Is You Here?, defines confidence as the ultimate capital for black women.

Image for post
Image for post
Ho Why is You Here, Album Art Work

“Flo Milli Shit, Ho”. The recurrent tag of the Alabama-bred rapper only serves as a preview to the abundance of credence and conviction that makes up her sound.

From blowing up on Tik Tok with the infamous “Beef Flo Mix”, to being embraced by her peers in the rap game almost instantly, Flo Milli’s arrival not only illustrates the increased value of digital virality for emerging artists, but is further proof to an end of the “catty” and “competitive” trope of female rap.

Controversy. Backlash. Hashtag. Change? How the flawed framework of cancel culture is taking on a drastic metamorphosis, possibly for the better.

Image for post
Image for post
Source: Wear Your Voice

So, what was #cancelculture?

Before we dissect the evolution of cancel culture, we must understand why it even exists.

Like many other phenomena, cancel culture is only a natural output of our relationship with the internet. The structure of social technology only mirrors our need to voice opinions, give unsolicited advice, feed into debate, and engage with a community of people who favor us. …

This past week, the digital space has given voice to the outrage, grief, trauma, anger, and resiliency within the black community. It has unified us, activated our allies, and demanded action, but not without a price. And while there’s no question that social media is a powerful activism tool, we must recognize it’s difficult complexities in order to move forward.

Image for post
Image for post
Source: Shirien Damra

Social media has revolutionized the nature of black activism.

The practice of activism online has allowed black people to mobilize in a truly unprecedented way. We have created spaces for black people to engage in dialogues that do not exist in the physical realm, brought language to the emotional trauma our parents and grandparents did not have the words for, educated one another, and connected people with the resources required to take action — all at a rapid fast pace. …

As the quarantine era begins to cultivate a new normal, there is no doubt digital content creation is the thread stringing us together, as we continue to stay apart. From the boom in Tik Tok dances, IG lives, and the new digital frameworks brands have adopted to connect with audiences, the digital playground the pandemic has created is uncovering both the progressive and problematic culture behind “why” and “how” we create online.

Image for post
Image for post
Source: LA Times

1. The digital content space is becoming more and more democratized.

The art of creating content has technically been democratized ever since the smartphone, but the truth is, not everyone has always been welcomed into the space. Between older generations shying away from the latest social media platforms because of technological ageism, to creators of marginalized communities failing to be credited for the viral trends they create, digital exclusivity has definitely shaped the content landscape. …

With an undeniable influence, hip-hop is the cultural movement every brand is trying to tap into. But whose doing it, and whose doing it right?

Image for post
Image for post
Source: Sprite

Over the past 40 years, hip-hop has transformed from an underground niche to a mainstream powerhouse, becoming the defining beat in the sound of pop- culture. Most recently, hip-hop has made historic strides, surpassing rock as the most consumed genre and accumulating a purchase power of $453B amongst its’ diverse and youth-driven audience (Gen Hip Hop Study). Why wouldn’t brands want to connect?

However, the desire for brands to connect with hip-hop often results in pandering to black culture, tokenism, lack of historical context, and cringe- worthy advertisements. This in part due to the diversity problem within the industry, and therefore a lack of professionals who can speak directly to the hip-hop experience. …

An independent release, Got It Made manifest as a true tale of resiliency.

Image for post
Image for post

Embodying the spirit of East Oakland, Kamaiyah is authenticity and vigor on display. Newly departed from Interscope Records, the rapper is commanding control over her career, releasing Got It Made under her new independent label GRND.WRK, a partnership with Empire.

While Got It Made is rooted in Kamaiyah’s 90’s west coast sound, the lyrical content is revamped, proving she has bars. …

If 2019 was the year of resurgence for R&B, 2020 will be its domination. Discover the up-and-coming artists who are reimagining the genre in every way.

1. Jayla Darden

Nothing short of smooth and melodic, Jayla Darden arises as a sonic ode to 90’s R&B. With a candid pen, soft vocal cadence, and vulnerable demeanor, Darden is bringing the evolving genre back to its roots. In late 2019, the Detroit native debuted with Onto Something, a nostalgic seven-track EP with hints of new age trap. The 21-year old also brings new meaning to self-starter, writing, mixing, and producing all her own songs. …

As we approach 2020, it is both equally refreshing and irksome that companies are finally starting to realize the importance of black women in the representation of their marketing efforts.

It is no secret that black women are the creators of culture — the mecca of all trends, and the center of innovation, novelty, and ubiquity. Essentially, we make shit cool. However, this isn’t the only reason why big brands should put black women at the forefront of their campaigns. By 2021, the consumer preferences and brand loyalty amongst black women is expected to drive black spending to $1.5 trillion (Nielson 2017). …


Skylar Rochon

All things beats, black women, and brands. IG: @skylarrochon

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store