It’s no secret that dark-skinned women experience more discrimination in the music industry compared to their light-skinned counterparts. Just take a look at the most popular Black female artists and you will see that a majority of them are disproportionately light-skinned. This year, a rapper by the name of Asian Doll aka Asian Da Brat called out colorism in a series of heated social media posts. She herself has struggled with negative self image, no doubt due to lack of positive dark skin female representation in the Black community and in media.
Although her comments were focused towards light-skinned women, there is no arguing against the fact that colorism greatly plagues mainstream media. Dark skinned women are afforded less opportunities and have to work 10x as hard to receive adequate representation. So, in an attempt to battle colorism and to give recognition where it’s deserved, here is a list of dark skinned women artists who prove that Black is Beautiful.
Carrying on the legacy of Queen Latiah and MC Lyte, Grammy nominated rapper Rapsody is a full fledged emcee hailing from North Carolina. Her pro-Black lyrics pass along messages of self love, natural beauty positivity, perseverance, education, and Black issues. Rapsody has received co-signs from some of hip-hop’s greatest legends like Jay-Z, J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, and the late Nipsey Hussle, just to name a few. Rapsody allows her talent to speak for itself instead of leaning heavily on her sexuality, a one-dimensional trick many women in the music industry rely on. Her latest project Eve, which was released in 2019, pays homage to influential Black women. My favorite songs on the album are “Afeni” featuring PJ Morton and “Iman” featuring SiR & JID. In addition, I have had the pleasure of seeing Rapsody perform on stage back in 2016 at the Ogden Theatre in Denver, Colorado where she graced the stage with Pharoe Monch, Talib Kweli, and 9th Wonder. I’m happy to admit she noticed my green head wrap in the crowd and serenaded me.
Tink is part of a cohort of artists that emerged from the Windy City in the last decade. The Chicago native’s music was ushered into the mainstream by music producer Timbaland with her single “Million”, a spinoff of the beloved Aaliyah’s hit song “One in a Million”. Tink was also featured as part of the 2015 XXL Freshman Class, where she delivered one of the best freestyles during the cypher. She was featured on the XXL cover alongside DeJ Loaf, Fetty Wap, GoldLink, and Vince Staples, just to name a few. The multi-talented artist gives off a feminine vibe in her music, singing and rapping lovesick lyrics over boomin’ beats. Sex, love, betrayal, and street life are among some of her common topics. If you’re an R&B lover then Tink’s catalogue just might resonate with you.
Chika is a powerhouse rapper coming out of Montgomery, Alabama. She performs with the same fury, speed, and passion as her contemporaries, proving that anything men can rap, women can rap better. The 23-year-old is very vocal in the community speaking on topics such as: politics, Black issues, queer issues, and body positivity. She uses her platform to be a voice for marginalized people and has even performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Chika has a great sense of humor and can be found making people laugh wherever she goes. My favorite Chika performance is her NPR Tiny Desk Concert which debuted March 2020 and already has over 1.3 million views.
Float away with the soulful, buttery vocals of R&B artist Ari Lennox. As the leading lady on J. Cole’s label Dreamville, Lennox brings a new breath of fresh air to the neo-soul genre. With six award nominations between 2019 and 2020, Lennox is rapidly becoming a recognizable figure in the music industry. We get a multi-dimensional view of Ari Lennox on her debut album Shea Butter Baby as she displays her openness, sensuality, humor, consciousness, and vulnerability. The DMV artist is transparent and delivers coming of age stories in a raw and down-to-Earth fashion. Something else to admire about Lennox—she loves her fans and interacts with them during her live shows.
Kamiyah harnesses the true sound of the Bay Area. The self-professed “Queen of High Street” showcases the real, the dirty, and the grimey parts of Oakland (shoutout East Oakland!). Most known for her feature on YG’s song “Why You Always Hatin?” featuring Drake, she has collaborated with Schoolboy Q, Quavo, Tyga, and other Oakland artists like Keyshia Cole, Kehlani, and Too $hort. Her hard flow and straight-shooter lyrics put her in the league with other rappers such as City Girls, Cardi B, and Megan Thee Stallion. Her sound and videos highlight the hyphy movement, which went mainstream due to artists like the late Mac Dre and E-40. Kamaiyah further proves to us that “Black Excellence” can come straight out of the projects. Check out her latest album Got it Made on all major streaming platforms.
Justine Skye rose to fame after her Tumblr account went viral. Singer, songwriter, and model Justine Skye possesses an angelic voice that will lift you right out of your seat. Her musical sound can be described as a fusion of island vibes, R&B, and Pop. Skye has released her followup album Bare with Me which is a continuation of her 2019 EP. This album is her most vulnerable project to date exploring topics of romantic chemistry, the conflicting emotions involved with being in love, devastating breakups, egos, and much more. I thoroughly enjoy all 10 songs on the album. My favorite songs on the album are “No Options” and “Million Years” because they speak to being involved in toxic relationships. Skye dazzles us with crafty, unexpected vocal performances throughout the album. And with over 2 million followers on Instagram, the songstress stays stunning fans with her vibrant life and stunning photos– all of which she has been doing since the age of 16.