6 Feminist Albums That Got Us Through February

A drawing of Jazmine Sullivan, Mary J. Blige, and Mitski with a green, blue, and purple heart-filled background

(Illustration by Jennifer Van Meter)

February was full of fresh sounds from artists who poured their hearts into their music. After a four-year hiatus, Mitski returns with an honest album about her thoughts on fame. Mary J. Blige exudes confidence on an album that confirms her legendary status. Raveena transforms a story she wrote about a princess into a lush sophomore work. Plus, we’re enjoying exciting releases from Junglepussy, Jazmine Sullivan, and Ivy Sole. As always, happy listening!

Ivy Sole, Candid

Ivy Sole - Call Me (Official Music Video)

{Les Fleurs Records}
Release date: February 2, 2022

On Candid, Ivy Sole bares their innermost thoughts. The Philadelphia-based rapper comes to terms with her inner self on an album that’s just as much about self-reflection as it is about celebrating community. In the opener, “Easy to Kill,” Sole admits that death scares her: “I’m finally afraid to die / Finally know what I want from life before I lose it.” The single sets the tone for the rest of the album, where the artist uses a spoken-word lyrical style to describe desperately wanting a relationship to work, to analyze family history, and to acknowledge when it’s time to let a partner go. Candid is Ivy Sole at their most assured state.

Mitski, Laurel Hell

Mitski - Heat Lightning (Official Lyric Video)

{Dead Oceans}
Release date: February 4, 2022

Laurel Hell exhibits Mitski at a crossroads with fame. Throughout the album, the indie artist constantly questions herself (“Trees are swaying in the wind like sea anemones / There’s nothing I can do, not much I can change / Can I give it up to you? Would that be okay?” she sings on “Heat Lightning”). Filled with ’80s pop beats and dreary lyrics, Laurel Hell mainly illustrates Mitski’s disgruntled feelings about her status as a popular entertainer whose songs have become the ultimate sad-girl soundtrack for fans. It’s an honest admission that makes the singer’s latest album feel more authentic. Laurel Hell isn’t Mitski’s best work, but it shines for its portrayal of a star’s vulnerability; she’s unsure if she really wants to be one.

Junglepussy, Jp5000

Junglepussy - Critiqua

{Junglepussy}
Release date: February 4, 2022

Across five tracks, Junglepussy furthers her alluring self-assuredness. But this time, her confidence is subdued in a tone that you likely wouldn’t hear even if you were in the same room. Still, her voice is firm as she sounds more like an MC aware of her worth and with nothing to prove. On “Critiqua,” Jp5000’s opener, the Brooklyn rapper rhymes about external validation being far from her mind: “Ain’t a damn thing a man think gon’ drive me crazy / I be damned in the sand, so wet, so wavy.” The closing track, “Mystical,” backed by a jazzy instrumental beat, finds Junglepussy reiterating her prowess (“I’m top of the mountain meditating topless I transcend”). Jp5000 invites listeners to salivate on Junglepussy’s undeniable lyrical capabilities while she clarifies that her worth no longer needs defending. She’s already earned her respect.

Mary J. Blige, Good Morning Gorgeous

Mary J. Blige - Amazing (feat. DJ Khaled) [Official Video]

{Mary Jane Productions/300 Entertainment}
Release date: February 11, 2022

Good Morning Gorgeous finds Mary J. Blige on the other side of a nasty divorce—empowered, focused, and as confident as ever. The R&B legend’s 14th studio album is filled with themes of heartbreak, knowing her self-worth, and wanting to find love again. Tracks like the bluesy “Love Will Never” and “Love Without the Heartbreak” are reminiscent of a vintage Mary J. Blige who still wants to find that “real love” while singles like “On Top,” which features Fivio Foreign, and “Amazing,” which features DJ Khaled, are confused-yet-tolerable exercises of just how contemporary Blige’s sound can be. The Dave East-assisted “Rent Money” is a somewhat feminist track about giving your all to a man who isn’t worth it—but it’s tarnished by a hook originally sang by R. Kelly, who’s currently in jail for federal sex crimes. Good Morning Gorgeous has its flaws, but the LP is a reminder to Blige, and everyone else, of her undeniable spot in the pantheon of R&B’s most esteemed acts.

Jubilee: A Black Feminist Homecoming

Raveena, Asha's Awakening

Raveena - Rush

{Warner Records}
Release date: February 11, 2022

On the release date for Asha’s Awakening, Raveena explained that the album is based on a story she wrote about a Punjabi princess named Asha. The titular character spends thousands of years meditating in space only to return to Earth and its chaotic energy. But perhaps the art of living is to find moments of joy and peace amid the chaos that life may bring; such is the thesis of Asha’s Awakening. Throughout the 15-track LP, Raveena explores various soundscapes (influenced by South Asian music and R&B) that makes her sophomore effort feel like the comfort food needed to endure a bad day. It opens with “Rush,” a vibrant song that’s punctuated with South Asian drums and experimental pop, and ends with the guided meditation in “Let Your Breath Become a Flower.” Each song has its own distinct sound, but when heard together (and in order), they create a lush body of work that’s both therapeutic and entertaining. 

Jazmine Sullivan, Heaux Tales, Mo' Tales: The Deluxe

Jazmine Sullivan - Pick Up Your Feelings (Official Video)

{RCA Records}
Release date: February 11, 2022

The deluxe version of Jazmine Sullivan’s Grammy-nominated project brilliantly extends the Black women-centered conversation of sexual liberation. Heaux Tales, Mo’ Tales immediately delivers Sullivan’s deep, masterful voice. Her runs on “Hurt Me So Good” and “Selfish” sound so clear and powerful, it’s as if she’s singing with the same spiritual energy as a church choir. With 10 new tracks, Heaux Tales, Mo’ Tales includes stories about the pitfalls of dating—narrated by Sullivan’s friends, notably with one by Issa Rae—and singles about having a selection of partners from which to choose (“Roster”), feeling undesirable (“Jazzy’s Tale”), and reflecting on one-sided relationships (“Selfish). She sharpens the original project’s broader thesis of Black women needing to embrace sexual autonomy and alternative approaches to dating given the history of society making them feel unworthy of love.

 

by DeAsia Paige
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DeAsia Paige is a St. Louis–based freelance writer whose work covers music, culture, and identity. She’s been published in VICE, the Nation, Blavity, and Okayplayer. She firmly believes that there’s a Real Housewives of Atlanta scene for everything. You can find her on Twitter @deasia_paige.