Beyoncé‘s epic love letter to Africa, Black is King, pretty much broke the Internet when it was released last month. Like her visual album Lemonade, Black is King is a visual accompaniment to her The Lion King: The Gift album from last summer, which had Beyoncé recruiting some of the best artists and producers from around the continent. Today, she released the standalone video for “Brown Skin Girl,” her ode to dark-skinned Black women and the beauty they possess.
To celebrate the video’s release, let’s take a look at some of music’s biggest and best anthems celebrating the beauty of dark-skinned Black women.
‘Brown Skin Girl’ by Beyoncé & Blue Ivy
Lupita Nyong’o. Naomi Campbell. Kelly Rowland. These are just a few of the superstars that Beyoncé shouts out in “Brown Skin Girl” — and they all are a part of the music video alongside Queen Bey. Other beauties like South Sudanese model Adut Akech also make an appearance, and all of the women’s complexions “glow like diamonds.” The song is also a love letter to Bey’s daughter Blue Ivy, who sings on the track and is the cutest guest star in the video.
‘Melanin’ by Ciara, Lupita Nyong’o, City Girls, Ester Dean, & La La
Speaking of Lupita, it was only natural for the Oscar-winning actor to make her musical debut in a song called “Melanin” alongside some of the industry’s most recognizable Black women. Ciara, the City Girls, Ester Dean, La La Anthony, and Lupita all turn the party and celebrate the beauty of dark skin while getting everyone listening to get up and dance.
‘Black Woman’ by Danielle Brooks
You probably know Danielle Brooks as Taystee from Orange is the New Black, but Brooks is also an accomplished stage actor and singer. “Black Woman” is Brooks’ debut single, which she released last year, and takes on all the misconceptions and unfair expectations put on Black women — specifically, dark-skinned women like her. Brooks is absolutely stunning in the music video, looking like a “Nubian queen with the skin that glistens” as she lays in a bathtub.
‘Brown Skin’ by India.Arie
Soul singer India.Arie has been writing about the Black experience for decades, and her 2001 hit “Brown Skin” is a testament to her love for her people. “Brown skin / You know I love your brown skin,” she sings comfortingly. Though the song’s lyrics are more generally directed toward darker skin in general, it’s India.Arie’s status with fans as “the original ‘Brown Skin Girl'” that makes the song so important for women like her.
‘Blk Girl Soldier’ by Jamila Woods
Chicago-bred songbird Jamila Woods makes it a point to honor Black women as often as she possibly can; every song on her 2019 album Legacy! Legacy!, for example, was named after a different influential Black woman from history. “Blk Girl Soldier” is one of Woods’ first love letters to her sisters who may “hate her own skin,” and empowers them to channel their Black girl magic.
‘Black Hypocrisy’ by Spice
Though the song was part of a publicity stunt for Love & Hip Hop, the message behind “Black Hypocrisy” by the queen of dancehall remains just as strong. As a dark-skinned Jamaican woman, Spice has had to deal with her fair share of obstacles to making it in the music industry. In “Black Hypocrisy,” she rhetorically asks the people who criticize her dark skin if they’d be happier if she bleached her skin to become lighter. Ultimately, it’s about loving the skin that you’re in and refusing to give in to what people around you say about you.
‘Melanin’ by Secrett
This hip hop track is pretty on the nose, as rapper Secrett talks about how beautiful having melanin actually is. More importantly, she calls out why many features associated with Black women — like fuller lips and curvier bodies — suddenly become beautiful when they’re on white bodies. It’s an empowering song, and Secrett hypes up her Black women followers to take charge in every part of their lives.
‘Faith In These Brownskins’ by Bianca Bonnie
You probably know Bianca Bonnie as Young B, the voice behind the 2006 hit “Chicken Noodle Soup.” Bonnie kept a low profile in the years since then, reemerging on Love & Hip Hop a few years ago to jumpstart her music career. “Faith In These Brownskins” is Bonnie’s personal reflection on her experience as a dark-skinned Black woman and the experiences of those around her, ultimately finding beauty and happiness in what she sees in the mirror: “I’m so happy I was raised to love my pretty face / This brown skin, fat a**, little tiny waist.”