Right now, it’s more important than ever that women find outlets to express and celebrate their diverse identities, their common struggles, and their agency and power; creating and listening to feminist music is a great way to do so. Queer women and women of color (and queer women of color) don’t get their voices prioritized in mainstream music, so I’ve compiled a playlist full of upbeat, empowering music by and for a diverse array of women. Most of the artists featured are lesser-known (i.e. less than 1 million monthly Spotify listeners) intentionally, but there are a few big names whose work I felt I couldn’t exclude. Without any further ado, I give you an intersectional feminist playlist to listen to by yourself, with other women, with dudes, when you’re feeling down, when you’re feeling badass, whenever–enjoy!
Good as Hell – Lizzo
To start off, the ultimate feel-good ballad from one of my favorite artists, Indie hip-hop artist Lizzo. Through her music, Lizzo spreads body positive, feminist messages: “I can’t wake up one day and not be black. I can’t wake up one day and not be a woman. I can’t wake up one day and not be fat. I always had those three things against me in this world, and because I fight for myself, I have to fight for everyone else.”
Pynk (feat. Grimes) – Janelle Monáe
Janelle Monáe has been a force in the discussion around women’s, Black, and queer issues for quite some time. Off of Monáe’s most recent album, Dirty Computer, “Pynk” is all at once sexy, delicate, and empowering. If you haven’t already, go watch the music video; it’s magical, and you’ll thank me later.
Money – Leikeli47
“Money” is easily one of the most badass songs on this playlist. Leikel47 unabashedly raps about her flourishing career and financial gains, as she deserves to since, “all [her] life, [she] had to grind and hustle” to get there.
F E M A L E – Sampa the Great
“F E M A L E” is an uplifting ode to hardworking, confident women by Samba Tembo, Zambian poet, singer-songwriter, and rapper. One of my favorite lines: “Big bold women, round of applause / Get-my-goals women, round of applause / Know-my-roots women, round of applause.”
Ghost – Awkwafina
Nora Lum, A.K.A. Awkwafina, just garnered major attention for her role in Crazy Rich Asians, but not everyone knows that she’s also been a rap artist for years. “Ghost” is basically just Awkwafina describing men she “had to ghost” for various reasons, and it’s as catchy as it is hilarious.
No Small Talk – Kari Faux
This one’s an aggressive-in-a-good-way, bass-heavy bop; Kari Faux knows exactly what she wants (independence, money, and different men, in that order), and she gets right to the point in “No Small Talk.”
Borderline (An Ode to Self Care) – Solange
Solange’s honeyed vocals and electronic beat complement her subtly political message about the cruciality of self-care during a time of gender and racial inequality in “Borderline (An Ode to Self Care),” from her album A Seat at The Table.
Where My Girls – Dai Burger
Queens-bred queer rapper Dai Burger celebrates all kinds of women, “from the go-getters to the trendsetters,” in her upbeat single, “Where My Girls.”
Truth Hurts – Lizzo
Alright, one more from Lizzo, because I couldn’t not. One of the killer lyrics in this anti-commitment, self-love anthem is: “I just took a DNA test; turns out I’m 100% That Bitch.” I mean, come on.
Tomboy – Princess Nokia
Destiny Nicole Frasqueri, A.K.A. Princess Nokia, is a feminist rapper and co-founder of Smart Girl Club. Nokia makes confrontational raps, like “Tomboy,” that celebrate diverse women and highlight issues of women of color: “Our society has created these unattainable body images and beauty ‘norms’ that are super unrelatable for people like us. So that’s why you got to make it work for you…I manipulate the male gaze.”