Courtesy the artist
The artwork for "Blk Girl Soldier"
When I interviewed poet and soul singer Jamila Woods
for the People Issue
, she told me about what she tries to accomplish with her work: "I want my music to be that elixir that keeps people able to stay woke, and also stay healthy and loving themselves." She also mentioned her forthcoming solo debut, and yesterday she announced that she'd inked a deal with local hip-hop indie Closed Sessions
broke the news and premiered her first single, "Blk Girl Soldier."
Woods explained to Billboard
that the song was inspired by a protest chant she picked up at a Black Youth Project 100 meeting. She told me "Blk Girl Soldier" began taking root after she read about extremist group Boko Haram kidnapping 276 schoolgirls in Nigeria and about Rekia Boyd
, the 22-year-old shot and killed by an off-duty Chicago detective in 2012. Woods addresses the current struggles of young black women, both painfully public and barely spoken of: "We go missing by the hundreds / Ain't nobody checkin' for us, ain't nobody checkin' for us / The camera loves us, Oscar doesn't / Ain't nobody checkin' for us, ain't nobody checkin' for us."
Woods sings about seemingly intractable problems with an alluring warmth and uplift that suggests they really can be overcome. Jus Cuz and Saba
produced the instrumental, and the percussion's taut bounce elevates the song even further. In November, Woods told me about the challenge of creating a tune that addresses a specific community but is intended for everyone: "I'm speaking broadly to the human experience, and to what is more important and what needs to be talked about," she said. "I think that confidence in that comes from my upbringing and this community that said, 'What you have to say and what you think is important.'"
The inspiration for "Blk Girl Soldier," today's 12 O'Clock Track
, may be specific, but its message is universal. Woods headlines the Louder Than a Bomb mixtape release party
at Metro on Saturday.