5 Feminist Albums That Got Us Through June

The colorful Broken Hearts & Beauty Sleep album cover features an illustration shows two people facing each other, embracing, and preparing to kiss

Mykki Blanco on the cover of Broken Hearts & Beauty Sleep (Photo credit: Courtesy of Transgressive)

Summer’s here! And, as always, music provides the perfect soundtrack for our feelings, thoughts, and experiences as we transition into the warmer summer months. This month’s list mainly features artists discovering and or shamelessly highlighting the power of their own voices: Mykki Blanco’s latest offering reiterates that this rapper won’t settle for love, while Marzz’s new project embraces the art of choosing oneself. If you’re looking for a confidence booster, these new releases won’t disappoint. Happy listening!

BEVERLEE, Purple Violin

BEVERLEE - Logic Is Lost dir. by Raechel Zarzynski

{Bad Seed Music}
Release Date: May 28, 2021

Purple Violin is alt-pop singer BEVERLEE’s debut album. The 13-track LP explores themes of love, rebirth, and women living in their own truth. “Logic is Lost,” an introspective track, details BEVERLEE’s experience rediscovering herself. In 2017, after leaving New York and an eight-year marriage to a man. She sings about the possibility of her rebirth as a gay woman living in Los Angeles being perceived as illogical, though she knows she’s happier now: “Logic is lost on me/ Is it drama or comedy?/ Yeah, I’m all for autonomy.” Songs like “Lorena” and “Amelia” tell the story of women who are struggling to find their own happiness and freedom (“I’m watching airplanes overhead,” BEVERLEE sings on the chorus of “Amelia,” alluding to the freedom the woman portrayed in the song desparately wants). With her own past as an inspiration, BEVERLEE celebrates the power of women discovering their freedom.

Marzz, Love Letterz

Marzz - Countless Times (Official Video)

{RCA Records}
Release Date: June 17, 2021

Marzz knows what’s best for her. Love Letterz, the R&B singer’s debut EP, chronicles her desire to leave an unhealthy relationship. Throughout the project, Marzz’s soft vocals and honest lyricism paints a relatable story of a woman who knows she has to remove herself from a relationship that’s no longer serving her. On the opening track, “So Frequently,” she sings about her frustration with constantly being hurt by her partner: “Can’t you see I’m really down and really hurting/ Can you feel the pain in my soul?/ Think it’s time to let go,” while on “Wizard,” she sings about wishing she had magical powers that’d allow her partner to see how they’re taking her for granted. “Countless Times” finds Marzz pinpointing what’s bothering her (“You are confusin’ my mental health, yeah/ With this weight on my chest, you don’t understand”). Love Letterz introduces listeners to Marzz’s ability to use her darkest moments as a source that guides her to happiness.

Mykki Blanco, Broken Hearts & Beauty Sleep

Mykki Blanco - "Free Ride" (Official Video)

{Transgressive Records}
Release Date: June 18, 2021

For Mykki Blanco, creativity knows no limits. On their first album in five years, the rapper and performance artist gives listeners a smooth mix of house, soul, funk, rap, and R&B. Experimenting with different genres without the message of a project getting lost in translation can be a daunting task, but on Broken Hearts & Beauty Sleep, Blanco makes beautiful chaos. The album opens with “Trust a Little Bit,” (which features London-based production duo God Colony), a house track on which Blanco raps about the fear of falling in love. Blanco pivots to a funkier beat on “Free Ride,” on which they assert their worth and why they won’t settle for love (“No kitty but I got that sass/ Rich chick but she don’t pay tax”). “It’s Not My Choice,” featuring Blood Orange, takes listeners on a soulful ride that depicts the beginning of a breakup. On “That’s Folks,” Blanco teams up with Big Freedia to evoke the power of friendship (“My clique is solid, and so’s the wallet/ My people spared and you not”). Broken Hearts & Beauty Sleep masters the art of experimentation while highlighting the beauty of falling in love—-with self, with a lover, and with friends.

H.E.R., Back of My Mind

H.E.R. - We Made It (Visualizer)

{RCA Records}
Release Date: June 18, 2021

Back of My Mind isn’t H.E.R.’s best work. The Grammy and Oscar-winning R&B superstar’s debut album is a bit underwhelming: All eight features are from male artists, and the 21-song tracklist could be trimmed down to offer a more concise overall message. The album’s length makes it hard for listeners to understand what H.E.R. is exactly trying to say. With “We Made It,” a stellar opening track that features a captivating, drum-heavy beat, H.E.R. reflects on her current success and the work it took for her to achieve it. The album shifts to a more gloomy mood with “Trauma” (featuring Cordae), and “Bloody Waters” (featuring Thundercat), the latter track reminiscent of the soulful protest music of the 1960s and’ 70s. The album jumps from theme to theme—relationship woes, sex, success, social justice—and works best when illuminating the complicated feelings that are on her mind now that she’s experienced so much success at such a young age. The 23-year-old songstress is at the top of her game, and she knows it (Take “I Can Have It All,” for example, which features the singer bragging about being a musical prodigy). But she’s also wondering why she can’t have the same success in her personal life, as she constantly sings about being taken for granted by a partner. It’s a common issue for women, especially women of color who’ve reached any level of success in their careers, and H.E.R. makes the circumstance relatable on Back of My Mind.

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Dee Gatti, Just Called To Say

Dee Gatti - Caught Up [Official Music Video]

{Dee Gatti Worldwide}
Release Date: June 18, 2021

R&B singer/songwriter Dee Gatti’s debut has an undercurrent of heartbreak, and the eight-track project Just Called To Say showcases a musician combing through the intense emotions following a recent breakup. It’s a promising introduction to the R&B newcomer, whose vulnerable lyrics, backed by subdued production, add a rich layer to the current landscape of emotive R&B from the likes of Summer Walker, Brent Faiyaz, and Snoh Aalegra. But it’s Gatti’s honesty that makes Just Called To Say stand out. As its title implies, the project poses as what the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, native would say to her ex if she still had access to reach her (at the end of the EP, it’s revealed that her ex’s number is disconnected or no longer in service). The opening lines of the title track feature Gatti yearning for a second chance to make things right: “I just called to say/ Called three times a day/ Won’t pick up your phone/ Don’t want to hear shit I say.” Gatti knows that she likely won’t get another chance, but she tries to make her case anyway. “Never been a homebody/ But I’d stay at home for your body,” she sings on “Caught Up.” Juggling themes of love, sex, and heartbreak from a Black queer woman’s perspective, Just Called To Say is a strong debut that proves Dee Gatti fits right in with the tapestry of today’s alternative R&B.

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by DeAsia Paige
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DeAsia is a freelance writer covering music, culture and identity. Her work has been featured in publications like VICE, The Nation , Blavity and Hufington Post Black Voices. To read more of her work, follow her on Twitter.