March is Women’s History Month, and so many women artists have provided us with timeless empowering anthems. From Queen Latifah to Beyonce to Jill Scott to Cardi B, all month long (and beyond!) press play on these 17 tracks that are uplifting, empowering, inspiring, and dance-inducing.
Queen Latifah “Ladies First” ft. Monie Love
First off, the video starts with portraits of iconic women including Harriet Tubman and Angela Davis. Latifah made a huge statement by beginning her video with prominent figures like the aforementioned, and interweaving historical photographs of traumatic experiences for black women.
“A woman can bear you break you take you/Now it’s time to rhyme can you relate to/ A sister dope enough to make you holler and scream,” Latifah raps on the infectious track.
“Because when it’s time for loving it’s the woman that gets some/ Strong, stepping, strutting, moving on/Rhyming, cutting, and not forgetting/ We are the ones that give birth/ To the new generation of prophets because it’s Ladies First,” Monie Love chimes in on the second verse.
The 1989 record became an instant anthem for women.
Nitty Scott “Pxssy Powah!”
The Afro-Latina MC dropped her single “Pxssy Powah!” in 2017 from her latest album, Creature!.
“Look at the mix/ Babies on hips/Rollers and all of my cholas with clips/Ese candela, boricua, morena/They up in favellas all under eclipse…I want all my chilluminati mamis around the world to rub on your titties if you don’t give a f***,” the mental health advocate raps on her second verse.
There are a few other tracks from Creature! that could have been easily been added to the list, but “Pxssy Powah!” stands out as it is clearly about women embracing their power, including Latina women and women from “the hood,” which is what intersectional feminism is all about.
Janelle Monae “PYNK”
“Pink like the inside of your/Baby pink behind all of the doors/Crazy/Pink like the tongue that does down/Maybe pink like the paradise found,” Monae sings in the first verse.
In the video, the eclectic singer and her dancers wear hot and light pink ruffled pants that resemble a vagina when flared.
Plain and simple, “PYNK” is a metaphorical ode to the vagina.
“When I wake up half naked with no makeup I feel like I’m the s***/Pardon my language but hang-ups do no define the kid/No, I’m not flawless. I’m scarred up and I’m fine with it,” Sa-roc raps in the first verse, exemplifying that it’s okay to be flawed.
“You betta be exactly who you are forever cause they gon’ try and change your heart. Don’t let up cause you so damn fine, just the way you are,” Sa-roc sings on the hook.
The track is all about loving and excepting who you are, even with physical scars and endured trauma. In a world where women strive to be thin, perfect and look like an Instagram model, Sa-roc’s 2018 track is so refreshing.
Kelis “Bossy” ft. Too Short
Women who are assertive, aggressive, and passionate are often looked down upon, which often leads to them being pegged as “bossy.” Harlem singer Kelis embraced the word, which usually has a negative connotation when it comes to women, and created a celebratory anthem.
“You don’t have to love me. You don’t even have to like me, but you will respect me. You know why? Cause I’m a boss,” she says before the track starts.
“Diamonds on my neck/Di Diamonds on my grill/Diamonds on my neck/Di Diamonds on my grill/I’m bossy/I’m the first girl to scream on a track/I switched up the beat of the drum/That’s right: I brought all of the boys to the yard,” Kelis sings on the hook. Here she inserts herself into a cultural conversation regarding aesthetics that are usually reserved for men in hip-hop. After playfully singing about how she likes to adorn her neck and teeth, she unapologetically claims her spot as “the first girl to scream on a track,” ( she’s referencing “Caught Out There“) which she received a lot of flack for, and has even been deemed “an angry woman” for. Now, that’s bossy!
TLC “Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg
“Realize the realism of reality treats/Us both the same/Cause satisfaction is the name of this game/So I choose to explain it’s evident/Left Eye don’t mean the rest of my body is irrelevant/In other words let’s refresh your head/About pullin’ down curtains and breakin’ the waterbed,” the late Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes raps on her verse.
No stranger to creating feminist anthems before it was trendy, TLC did just that in 1992 with “Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg.” The track is a fun song about not being embarrassed to have sexual desires and asking for it, even begging. The track appears on the trio’s debut album, Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip.
Beyonce “Run The World (Girls)”
“Some of them men think they freak this like we do/But no they don’t/Make your check come at they neck/Disrespect us no they won’t/Boy don’t even try to touch this/boy this beat is crazy/This is how they made me Houston Texas baby/This goes out to all my girls/That’s in the club rocking the latest/Who will buy it for themselves/And get more money later,” the Houston native sings with a confident cadence before she walks amongst her male dancers in the video, while still being the highlight.
The pop star then has a dance ensemble in the middle of the video featuring women of different ethnicities while the male dancers watch on in silence. Perhaps Beyonce’s message here is that men should be quiet listen to women more. On “Run The World (Girls),” Yonce declares that women, who are capable of bearing children and getting back to business do in fact run the world.
“Lit up like a crystal ball. That’s cool baby so is you. That’s how I roll. If I’m shining everybody gonna shine. I was born like this. Don’t even gotta try,” the Detroit native sings on the first verse of “Juice.”
In the fun and flirty video, the curvacious artist who’s an advocate for body positivity confidently rocks lingerie as her male interest ogles her, defying the stereotype that plus size women aren’t desirable.
The body positive feminist singer and rapper created an anthem all about self-love and embracing your own “juice.”
Destiny’s Child “Independent Women, Pt. 1”
“Question: tell me what you think about me/I buy my own diamonds and I buy my own rings/Only ring your celly when I’m feeling lonely/When it’s all over please get up and leave,” Beyonce sings on the first verse of the 2000 track.
After singing about male suitors paying their bills in 1999, the trio came back a year later declaring their independence.
The track, which appeared on the Charlie’s Angels soundtrack is about women providing for themselves, and not depending on a partner.
Jill Scott “Golden”
In the era of “drinking water, staying moisturized, and minding your business,” it almost seems as if Scott’s “Golden” came a little too early. The 2004 track comes from Scott’s second studio album, Beautifully Human: Words and Sounds Vol. 2.
“I’m taking my own freedom, putting it in my song, singing loud and strong, groovin’ all day long/I’m taking my own freedom, putting it in my stroll/I’ll be high stepping y’all, letting the joy unfold,” Scott sings on the track.
The North Philly singer and poet’s single is all about liberation, embracing joy, and “living your best life” before it became a trend.
Ariana Grande “God Is A Woman”
“You, you love it how I move you/You love it how I touch you/My one, when all is said and done/You’ll believe God is a woman/And I, I feel it after midnight/A feelin’ that you can’t fight/ My one, it lingers when we’re done/You’ll believe God is a woman,” Ariana Grande sings on her 2018 single.
Here the Florida native embraces her sexuality and declares it as divine. The track became Grande’s tenth top-ten single on the Billboard Hot 100.
Kelly Rowland “Crown”
In partnership with Dove, Kelly Rowland released “Crown,” which is all about embracing your hair, no matter the texture, length, or color.
“It don’t matter how I wear it. It’s beautiful in every color. Long, short, straight or curly. I love what I see in the mirror, Rowland sings on the track that was released at the top of 2019.
The video features a myriad pre-teen and teenage girls who embrace themselves while on a shopping trip with the singer.
Cardi B “Money”
“I gotta fly, I need a jet, s***/I need room for my legs/I got a baby, I need some money, yeah/I need cheese for my egg,” the Bronx rapper raps on the catchy track.
In a world and industry where becoming a mother is looked at as a career killer, Cardi B not only confidently embraced motherhood, but she also rapped about it on “Money,” and declared that because she has a child, she needs cash. And that’s revolutionary, especially for a Black woman because Black women are often taunted and looked down upon when seeking financial assistance of any kind to help raise their children.
In the video, she also paid homage to her former place of employment (the strip club) and to the women (exotic dancers) who often receive backlash and flack for their job choice.
Danielle Brooks ” Black Woman”
This track is specifically an ode to Black women.”I’m a Black woman. Cornbread fed, sweet tea sipping, Nubian queen with the skin that glistens. I’m a Black woman,” the Orange Is The New Black actress sings on the hook of “Black Woman.”
“So, I wrote this with two of my friends and one of them asked me if I could talk about anything I wanted to without a filter, what would that be?” she told Buzzfeed. “And, for me, it was the experience of being a Black woman. I decided to write this song, without any filters, of my journey as a Black woman in America. ”
“I want Black women to feel empowered by this song; I want them to feel on top of the world. I want them – when they’re home, and they just had the worst day of their life, or just had the best day of their life – to play this song and feel like they could take over the world,” she told BuzzFeed.
Alicia Keys “Girl On Fire”
Beyonce “Grown Woman”
“They love the way I walk ‘cause I walk with a vengeance/And they listen to me when I talk ’cause I ain’t pretending/It took a while, now I understand just where I’m goin’/I know the world and I know who I am/It’s ’bout time I show it/I’m a grown woman. I can do whatever I want,” Beyonce sings on “Grown Woman.”
On this bonus song from Beyonce’ s 2013 self-titled album, Beyonce reminds adult women that they can do whatever they want to.
Whitney Houston “I’m Every Woman”
The late Whitney Houston’s cover of Chaka Khan’s “I’m Every Woman” was made popular when Houston’s 1992 film The Bodyguard soundtrack was released. No stranger to women’s empowerment, TLC makes a cameo in the video. Chaka Khan even makes an appearance towards the end of the video.
Surrounded by Houston and TLC as everyone in the video points to Khan, the singer is honored towards the end of the video, which was monumental. Houston had no problem honoring another woman, which is what women’s empowerment is all about.
Glennisha Morgan is a Detroit-bred multimedia journalist and writer. She writes about intersectionality, hip-hop, pop culture, queer issues, race, feminism, and her truth. Follow her on Twitter @GlennishaMorgan