Listfully Thinking is a space reserved for every human to spit hot takes on their favorite music, movies, politicians, video games, etc.
Top 5 Women Rappers
1. Lauryn Hill “And while you imitating Al Capone I’ll be Nina Simone and defecating on your microphone” Self explanatory.
2. Lisa Left Eye Lopes Left Eye is a crazy lyricist. Her verse on “Waterfalls” is probably my favorite. Although “I’m good at being bad” in its entirety is a really close runner up.
3. Lil Kim Kim is my spirit animal high key. My muva lowkey. My favorite way to make my mother uncomfortable with love. She always makes me brave. She always makes me love Brooklyn. Living away from home for so long has imprinted “Lighters Up” to my skin. Her verses on “I Can Love You” with Mary J. Blige and “Let It Go” with Missy Elliot and Keyshia Cole
4. Remy Ma… Because she’s Remy Ma. All of her music. All of her ever.
5. MC Lyte Lyte is a legend. She just is. She’s a classic artist with a unique sound that helped pave so many women’s careers. She was one of the firsts. Her verse on “I Wanna Be Down” with Brandy, Yo-Yo, and Queen Latifah is so thorough. “You be that brother that I wanna sink my teeth in/ make me wanna ask where the hell you been?”
Safiya Washington is a writer and performer from Brooklyn, New York, living in Philadelphia. She received her Bachelors in English Literature in 2016 and is now an MFA candidate at Rutgers University. Between 2011 and 2016 Safiya has been featured on CNN and has toured colleges and universities. She is an international grand slam champion, winning Brave New Voices in 2011 and is the recipient of a fellowship and residency from The Watering Hole.
Song: Casket Pretty.
“All of my niggas is casket pretty/ Ain’t no one safe in this happy city/I hope you make it home.”
The idea that Black bodies gain beauty during/after death is incredibly sad, but Noname articulates this idea of Black posthumous beauty in an very dope way. The ache in her voice seems to suggest that some”niggas” look forward to being “casket pretty,” as if it is the highlight of their time in the “happy city.”
2. Azealia Banks
“Oh, là là là/Flirting with a cool French dude named Antoine/Wanna taste the pastry chocolate croissant/Ce soir with the bitch, Café au Lait/Voulez-vous nigga mad Francois/Who are you nigga, hahaha”
1991 has an insane rhythmic complexity. The off-center riddles are all enjammed, falling behind and ahead of the beat. On top of that, she works with multiple languages, often within the same line. But unlike Bank’s other songs—where she relentlessly shoves riddles down your ear canal—1991’s first verse has a polish that Bank’s rhymes always strive for. I often find myself replaying these first few lines, re-digesting the tight-tongue twisters like some super-sticky candy I just can’t get enough of. *repeats song for the 100th time*
3. Angel Haze
/ White Lies – Dirty Gold “Then she got me backstage like/‘Let me see your conscience/I’ll be over dancing at the table of contents’”
The best part about this song is that it reinvents the archetype of the “stripper” in rap culture. Haze humanizes the stripper and gives her a subjectivity that male-centered rap normally strips women of. These lines in particular gives the stripper a voice. Also, the juxtaposition of conscience and contents is powerful. On one hand, we have a woman who is displays her “contents” to men on a daily basis, on the other, we have the speaker whose conscience is being tested for participating in that.
4. Missy Elliot
They Don’t Wanna F*** Wit Me
Supa Dupa Fly
“Nigga, you can’t get smokin in this hay/Nigga, what you got to say/Iza bah bah zah zay/Iza zah zah zah zay”
Name a better trio than Kim, Kylie, and Chloe. Among control, alt, delete; Timbaland, Missy Elliot, and Aaliyah answer that question. This track off of “Supa Dupa Fly” is packed with Missy’s tightest rhymes. Her flow rolls like punches—indicative of Elliot’s style, those punches come from the left and don’t hurt much, but leave you confused and wanting more. This song also proves Missy’s incredible ability to make the most out of “Iza bah bah zah zay.”
Hard to Choose
Beauty and the Beast
“Yeah, so excuse if I don’t care if hipsters relate/It weren’t for you at all, at all why these songs were made/Like you were overlaid at the airport/And missed your sort of take off”
“Hard to Choose” speaks to the very nuanced experience of being a successful Black artist. When your art grows, it often isn’t within Black circles. This dissonance between artist and creator has been a struggle for musicians like Prince, Lenny Kravitz, and Kanye West. “When you look in the crowd the minority’s never white/I appreciate y’all, but I’m lying if it don’t bite,” Rapsody spits a few lines before. Rapsody encapsulates that melancholic success of being appreciative of recognition, but not the recognition you want.
1. Remy Ma
“Cookin” (w/Fat Joe f. French Montana and RySoValid)
like… who ISN’T hype to see Remy come back? Maybe anybody who sees her as a threat to their own career. Other than that I’ma go ahead and say the rest of us are HYPE. A joint project with Fat Joe, Platas o Plomo, is set to be released this fall, and if the first two singles (the club banger “All the Way Up” and the follow-up “Cookin”) are any indication, Remy did not come to play with you: “The match chinchilla, my pets been killa/ I’m cookin’ like it’s the last Thursday in November/ That means it’s Thanksgiving, I’m making baked chicken/ I’m on my second plate, and your pieces ain’t hittin'”. Deeeeeeeeyum. Now I want new Remy AND a (vegan) plate.
2. and 3. Young M.A
I had another rapper here but decided the slot would be better used for more of Young M.A’s “Quiet Storm” lyrics- “I keep telling these niggas I got a old soul/ Squad dressed in all red like a cold nose/ It’s Redlyfe, yeah the bros and the hoes know/ Redbone pussy looking like rose gold/ Then I make her turn around like a closed road/ Tell her lean that body over like a old rose/ Watch looking like something out of Cold Stones/ Gold plated, white diamonds yeah them cold stones/ Froze bites in my chains like cold toes/ Ice box for a heart, I got a cold soul…” How many times did I run that back? So many.
“Quiet Storm”- Look. My birth name is Stephanie. I’m still mad about that one lyric. But I like Young M.A and she keeps me interested in what she’s gonna do next. She has the cut-throat style and cocky flow one would expect from a Brooklyn MC, and so naturally, she’s mad we been sleepin’ on her: “All the shit that I’m spittin’ been invented/ Songs been written/ Shows, been did it/ The booth, been in it…and I ain’t even signed yet.” Our bad, sis. Our bad.
NoName’s flow is almost always just on the brink of singing. Don’t let that or her poetic flow catch you sleeping on her. Lyrics like “All of my niggas is casket pretty/ Ain’t no one safe in this happy city” and “I am afraid of the dark/ Blue and white/ Badges and pistols rejoice in the night” paint a vivid picture of specifically her city of Chicago and more broadly, just about any major city in the U.S., in 2016 or 1966. Between her youthful voice and the melodic tracks she usually raps over, if you didn’t understand the language, you might not guess the depth of the subject matter. It’s an oddly beautiful pairing.
“Pop for You”
Pregnant with Success- Part of me wants to offer more of an explanation for the Brooklyn rapper’s inclusion in this list than the lyric “This pussy don’t pop for you,” but part of me is like, “do I really have to?” That lyric alone is almost like an ancestral chant. No, really.
Rhythm Keene is a Philadelphia-based writer and performer. She is a co-host of The Harvest, the largest open mic experience in Philadelphia. A proud graduate of Lincoln University (PA), she is an advocate fighting for the freedom of all people.
New York based MC, Jungle Pussy is unique. Her sharp and witty Bars about being and curving lousy fuccbois coalesce into a funny, vulnerable and fully three dimensional character with style and presence on the mic. Her 2015 album Pregnant With Success is a dazzling piece of work.
For the past few years, Jamla Records stalwart Rapsody has herself as one of the sharpest lyricists in the game. Her fiery track “Betty Shabazz” is essential listening.
After making a splash with her guest appearance on Chance The Rapper’s classic Acid Rap mixtape, Noname has built anticipation over the past few years with a handful of great singles and guest verses. All of this has led up to the 2016 release of Telefone, a refreshingly soulful and strong project full of lush, melodic songs and Noname’s sharp, playful rhymes.
NYC based duo Oshun made waves with the potent 2015 Asase Yaa mixtape. Mixing up current themes of Black Femme pride and self-determination with tight flows and Native Tongues inspired Jazz Beats, Oshun deftly takes throwback 90’s Afrocentric aesthetics and updates it for the present day zeitgeist.
5. Jean Grae
Veteran MC Jean Grae has been her brand of witty, dexterous MCing for nearly two decades. Although known for her hard, furious bars, over the past few years Grae has expanded her musical repertoire to explore a unique brand of smooth, ethereal Soul.
John Morrison is a Philadelphia based MC/DJ/Producer. His debut album Southwest Psychedelphia is currently available via Deadverse Recordings.
Top Five Freedom Poems
- M NourbeSe Philip, “Words That Fight, Words That Celebrate”
- “Meditations on the Declensions of Beauty by the Girl with the Flying Cheekbones” I love work that celebrates blackness, and this poem excites me because it mixes conviction with wondering and questions, and undeniably declares black to be beautiful. Everyone should read she tries her tongue, her silence softly breaks, the collection where this poem is found. Especially black women and femmes.
- Jamila Woods, “Way Up”
- Songs are poems. And this song (the whole album, really) is the epitome of carefree, triumphant black girl magic.
- Safia Elhillo, “Self-Portrait with Yellow Dress”
- As a person who struggles always under the oppressive systems built to destroy me, I know it can be easy to be engulfed in loss, pain, sadness and anger. I love “Self-Portrait with Yellow Dress” and all poems that remind me not to believe “that to be housed in a body/that is black/is to be dressed always/in black for the funeral”. I am here for poems that declare blackness and to be immortal.
- Audre Lorde, “A Woman Speaks”
- I really vibe with how declarative Lorde’s work is, especially in her collection The Black Unicorn. Nothing seems freer to me than knowing who you are and telling the world that truth. – Nikki Giovanni, “Poem for a Woman Whose Voice I Like” I always get hype when I read this poem. Black women really out here, defiant, living, thriving. Despite.
Noura is a junior poetry and essay editor, as well as co-editor of Visual Art at WusGood.
Editor’s Top 10: Black Characters in Horror Films
Candyman aka Tony Todd in: CANDYMAN
I mean c’mon fam,–its f***ing CANDYMAN —-C A N D Y M A N !!!!!!!!!!!!
Let’s break this one ALL the way down. What is one of the first things you’re taught when being introduced to the dangers of our world?
don’t take candy from strangers don’t take candy from strangers don’t take candy from strangers
So my mans name alone kinda implies dire consequence, my mans is named after the kid krypotinite. Idk about everyone else but before I saw the film and to be clear I was like ten when I saw it, being new to horror films –I had no idea what to expect –so here is the set up
in the mind of ten year old siaara : a man literally made of candy, im talking bout peppermints for eyes, twizzlers for a mouth , gumdrops for a nose and, fruit roll-ups for hair, the whole get up AND that’s it. Like idk if I thought he ran about the world as some sort of vengeful tooth-fairy who gave cavities and snatched coins and kids, but what I got was far from what I had imagined.
So let’s talk backstory (and this one is heavy and deserves a Trigger Warning) Candyman is the son of a slave, a great painter who falls in love with a white woman and has a lynch mob after him. well first his hand, the painting hand (replaced by a hook) proving the sheer amount of hate and haterness that can consume white folks, then murdered him. So he comes back all serial killer ghost, half D’jango –half bloody mary and sh*t and when you say his name 5 times he sinks his hook in you. All im saying is dude castrated a kid in the movie. All im saying is dude opened his jackets and was made of BEES.
F***ING BEES SON…like why you need a hook and a decades dead body made of
F***ING BEES?!?! Idk…idk…but I won’t be calling him to ask
Shorty Meeks aka Marlon Wayans in: Scary Movie
There is something to be said about the hit or miss quality of the Wayans brothers, when they are on, they are ON…but when they are off…. we get… White Chicks.
Ok quick things about this film 1. Easily one of the best parody sagas of all time. Easy. Everything from other horror films, im talking Scream to I Know What You Did Last Summer. with a little bit of EVERYTHING ELSE in between, The Wayans brothers wrote and directed this film and left little to anything sacred in the thriller genre. They did not stop there either, oh no, they went to other genres —-EVERYTHING— from American Pie to The Matrix, few stones were left un –turned. Speaking of stoned….
Shorty Meeks. Shorty Meeks holy sh*t– what a guy. Like Shorty Meeks makes other lists, when I calculate my Top Ten Black Stoners list –Shorty Meeks is standing proud saying
I can not even begin to imagine how many other ten year old children were sent to the principals office for saying “WAZZZZZZZZZUUUUP” perpetually with their friends for entire class periods and got in trouble for it at home but I rest soundly knowing there is no way I am alone in that. Red eyed, natural haired and high as a pair of flooding pants Shorty and his “Wazzzuuuup” (which was a parody of a budweiser commercial ) is enough for him to be here, but if more is needed let it be noted that his are some of the funniest third wall breaks. My favorite is when homeboy looks the camera square in the eye and goes “ Y’all Wish Me Luck” it’s the black person mantra in scary movies FINALLY , FLAT OUT said during a scary movie. The shade is: The ONLY Meek I acknowledge is: Shorty.
Aunt Mozelle aka Debbi Morgan in Eve’s Bayou
So let me just say, yes I am aware that Eve’s Bayou isn’t a horror film, BUTLETMEEXPLAIN
Aunt Mozelle is a bad ass Black Witch who worked as a fortune teller in the Louisiana bayous and when I was younger she scared me in all the BEST ways. When she talks to her niece Eve after Eve has snooped into watching her foresee the pain of some of her customers, she tells Eve about the curse of her gift. Aunt Mozelle calls herself the black widow, then hits us with haunting tale after haunting tale of how each of her lovers died. It is some really heartbreaking stuff but it also has just the amount of supernatural forces to make it the correct degree of horrifying. She is the first contemporary black with I ever saw on television.
*honorable mention from the same movie :The Witch lil Eve gets the curse from to stop her father . She is pretty stereotypical black voodoo witch , but her performance and appearance is actually one of the most chilling performances ive ever come across, despite its brevity*
The Three Dope Boys : Tales From The Hood
4 stories full of black characters. 4 stories told by one strange ass funeral director to 3 homies who are chest deep in the dope game –produced by Spike Lee. So yea, they have the Spike morals attached to them, and these in my opinion are some of the best morals Spike has pushed — certainly one of the most creative ways he has pushed them. The stories alone are haunting, but the ending is what does it for me every single time. Its so good I won’t spoil it. If you have seen it –you are likely shaking your head with me, if not —go see it.
Akasha aka Aaliyah (R.I.P) in: Queen Of The Damned
Again R.I.P Aaliyah, and maybe this is why this movie is such a soft spot, she passed before she could finish filming and I found her so breathtaking in the role. Ann Rice (the writer of the book in which the movie is adapted) is one of my top five authors of all time, so I do have double soft spots for the film. The critics hated it and tbh– I can see the movies over all flaws–but her role was true to character and still makes my black girl heart sputter with joy
*honorable vampire woman mentions* SALMA HAYEK IN FROM DUSK TILL DAWN. CUS LIKE GET THE F**K OUT OF HERE IF YOU DON’T THINK HER CHARACTER DOES NOT DESERVE TO BE THE FICTIONAL FILM FEMINIST ICON OF MY HEART, CUS TOO D**N LATE. YA’LL CAN HAVE ALL THE GLITTERY CULLENS YOU WANT. #IMWITHTHER
Blade aka Wesley Snipes in : Blade
I feel like this is pretty common knowledge. So ima just say it a few times and let that be that.
Madame Marie Lavue aka Angela Basset in: American Horror Story: Coven
Never has a character came thru so hard –right when I needed them, the only reason homegirl aint at the top of the list is cus its not a film and im trying to adhere to rules. TRYING. But I legitimately CAN NOT leave her off the list OR put her any lower AND sleep soundly. So here we are.
One of the best/saddest/terrifying/prollyclosertoreailtythanyothink/ backstories. Again, I wont spoil it. In the show it slowly unfolds and that’s how it needs to be done, slowly at that pace, I just don’t think I could manage it here. Beyond the characters,the story
MARIE IS A F***ING BOSS. An immortal, complex, ageless gorgeous boss and is forever my damn SUPREME. Voodoo Queen of my hearts altar.
Brenda Meeks aka Regina Hall in :Scary Movie 2
So Brenda in the first movie was the girlfriend of Ray (Shawn Wayans) and her character (albeit being genuinely urban-black-girl-H I L A R I O U S) was little more than an addition to the other characters (girlfriends/ sister/ bestfriendtowhitegirl);the usual. But ima be honest –she worked with what she had and got a few laughs from me in the first movie. Like when she was at the movies, ironically watching a horror film, LOUDLY giving instructions on what to do and if we are to be real her instructions were on point.
But the second film? Sh*************************t, she had me in tears. She remains for the next two films as a staple character and for the most part, she is the only reason I watched the series past 2. Homegirl looks ghouls in the eyes and tells them to get out her face, slaps Jigsaw for putting his hands on her and she asks the question that has been burning a hole through my soul Uh uh uh uh uh uh uh uh UH! Now wait a minute, hold up! How come when anytime this scary shit happens, and we should stick together, you white people always say “let’s split up”?
Jimmy Bones aka Snoop Dogg aka Snoop D-O-double-gizzle in: Bones
Yes the movie is bad. Yes I just like snoop dogg, no–im not retracting my answer.
Diana “Sugar” Hill aka Marki Bey in : SugarHill
Call it nostalgia. Call it my now obvious obsession with voodoo and queens and black women clapback, but I rocks with this movie. Blaxpotation set up. And Sugar is not always sweet honey, and its just as good when it ain’t. My grandmother told me that before watching it with me. Actually, maybe that’s the reason—whatever, glad it’s here.
Kadeem Harrison in Vampire in Brooklyn
Vampire in Brooklyn a movie left a lot to be desired. Don’t get me wrong it was extremely entertaining but I like my horror movies to leave me with the feeling of impending death behind every foggy alleyway and just didn’t get what I wanted from it. But this is probably my favorite Kadeem Hardison performances if Kadeem Hardison performances are actually a thing. But to make losing body parts and flesh funny and interesting was really a testament to his comedic timing. Then at the end when he turned into a vampire on some pimp shit I was waiting for a sequel.
Jada Pinkett Smith in Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight
Historically, black folks aren’t in horror movies and if they are they die quick and soon. Jada Pinkett Smith knew this really well from the director of Scream 2 playing on this trope? (not sure about this but I am praying they were, having Smith and Omar Epps die within seconds of the beginning). Jada Pinkett-Smith not only was the sole survivor of the movie but she was the CHOSEN ONE. The special warrior with the ancient marking and the ability to defeat what appeared to be an unbeatable Demon. Best part of the movie is Jada holding blood in her mouth for what felt like an hour, through her being tossed left and right to finally spit it into the the Demon’s face and melt it off, Aye!
Lamont Bentley in Tales from the Hood
Of all the stories in Tales from the Hood, the one surrounding Crazy K was the most developed and looked like it was taken from a movie. Bentley was playing the id of every nigga on the street, O-dog on steroids. America’s worst nightmare. In the compressed time he was on screen he was able to convey wanting to be remorseful but still pulled by street code, a whole lifetime of resentment to everybody including God, as well as quick anger that could be set off by anybody including the most innocent and vulnerable
Thandie Newton in Beloved
Beloved is my favorite movie made about slavery. Slavery itself is a horror that still persists but within that institution the haunting of Sethe by Beloved was born. Thandie Newton completely transformed her voice to be small, baby-like and she clung to Oprah Winfrey’s character, Sethe, like she was the slain child come back to suck all of the life from her. Newton’s Beloved was relentless in commanding Sethe’s attention and drove her to forget reality and move into the world of the haunted, where each and every move made is orchestrated by the needs of the haint.
Jon Boyega in Attack the Block
Boyega fit the mold of the absolute hero of this movie. Meaning he served as the black hole, no pun intended, where everything that happens in the movie points back to them. All of the characters look to his character for solutions and a way out. He wasn’t made the go-to-guy by the dramatic arc movie, he intrinsically had the leadership qualities, the stability, the heart to go up against some monstrous aliens.
Mo’Nique in Precious
Not a horror movie but Mo’Nique’s Mary Jones is the evil that sleeps near you. She is a perpetually angry narcissist who buses Precious but at the same time, as we find out by the climax, longs to be wanted like her daughter. She throws pots, pans, TV’s anything she could to keep the family dysfunction intact. Her survival predicated upon making Precious’ life hell, one of the most grotesque parasitic relationships.
Samuel L Jackson in Unbreakable
Samuel L Jackson has the distinction of being the scariest frail person. Throughout Unbreakable I was really waiting to see where he would turn up, how he would change the trajectory of the story or just what his deal was. The mystique of his character really was the movie for me. Bruce Willis’ character pretty much treaded on familiar superhero/marvel universe/finding your powers territory while it feels Jacksons character was finding meaning or completion through the horror of countless others which was/is still chilling.
Jeffrey Wright in The Manchurian Candidate
Spoiler Alert: Jeffrey Wright is my favorite actor and he could have had three seconds in this movie and I would have put him on this list. He didn’t have much dialogue but his rapid/winding speech pattern and the demonic charcoal drawings he kept trying to pass off on Denzel put into focus just how wicked the experiments conducted in the war zone they occupied must have been. He was the man on the street you want to ignore but you know his rambling and erratic movement has a source that may be closer to affecting the world than you think.
The Magical Negroes of Horror
Morgan Freeman in Se7en, Scatman Crothers in The Shining, Alfre Woodard in Annabelle, Patricia Belcher in Jeepers Creepers. When I was putting this list together I had Morgan Freeman and Scatman Crothers on it and when I thought about how they serve the movie and vice versa this magical negro thing sort of sprouted up in my mind. It’s like since this is horror/fantasy is the magical negro as a trope more or less accepted? Some are more accepted than others as I feel Morgan Freeman’s characterization is more sophisticated than say Patricia Belcher. But all of these characters, like in standard dramas, function to extend the life of the main/white characters. At least some of these folks live.
CCH Pounder in Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight
To have two black women being the most badass characters in a horror movie is unheard of. But when Pounder lost her arm to a Demon she wrapped it up and leveled up to vanquishing the monsters then giving them a nubby middle finger. Although she died in the end she played a huge part in Jada surviving.