Last year, as part of Billboard’s Black History Month celebration, we asked Black artists spanning all genres to compile unique playlists exclusive to Billboard‘s Spotify account. Everyone from Normani and Khalid to DJ Premier and Rapsody shared tracks that represented their love for the culture across the diaspora — from childhood favorites to songs that make them feel free. We continue the celebration in 2020, with rising pop/R&B singer TeaMarrr sharing her soundtrack today.
TeaMarrr is a Boston-born, Haitian-American R&B singer/songwriter whose Caribbean heritage is proudly woven throughout her music. The artist received a mainstream push when she became the first signee to Raedio, actress Issa Rae’s new record label in partnership with Atlantic Records, last fall. Below, TeaMarrr dives into some of her favorite tracks on her playlist.
1. Jay-Z, “Story of O.J.”
This is such a thought-provoking song; a classic. When “Story of O.J.,” first came out, it didn’t matter what your race was; it was triggering. Although Jay-Z was inspired by a darker time in Black history, I loved the impact this record had on our community, both with what it represents and how relevant it still is today.
2. Rexx Life Raj, “The Fog”
This song reminds me of the trials and tribulations we go through. Being Black adds a twist on these trials, so [to quote the lyrics], “get lost in the haziness, demons rush me anxiousness, it’s crazy s–t, when I walk through the fog.” This particular song may not be about Black history, but it’s something I listen to when I need to feel strength, ease, and peace. Being in this industry can get tough and hella lonely at times, so it’s a dope self-healing bop. It opens up a whirlwind of inspiration perfect for dancing in the living room carelessly with a bottle of wine.
3. Beyoncé & Jay-Z, “Upgrade U”
This song makes me think of Black History Month because Black people are always upgrading your way of life. We have the craziest life hacks, and the line “I can do for you what Martin did for the people” is just fire: Black women are so powerful in this way. I remember in high school, we did a lip-synch show to this song. I was Beyoncé and had a friend be Jay-Z. (laughs) I almost got in trouble because my inner Beyoncé took over and I forgot we were at school!
4. Travis Scott, “Impossible”
This song reminds me of “Black boy joy” or the “dreamer” type. When this record came out, I was singing my a– off along in the car manifesting this dream of becoming a singer without even saying it. I would repeat [the lyric] “nights like this, I wish I could do the impossible.” It really made me feel like anything is possible, almost like you could fly if you tried hard enough. It’s so empowering. I play this song on nights where I want the happy unexpected to happen. Now, looking back, the happy unexpected sure did happen.
5. Innanet James, “Black”
This song is so cocky, loud, proud and so self-explanatory. I love being Black, like Blackity-Black, and this song brings it out so pompously. Back in my college days, this would’ve been the perfect soundtrack to listen to while I walked around my predominantly white campus. (laughs)
6. J. Cole, “Mr. Nice Watch”
This reminds me of the struggle Black people go through. We humble and numb ourselves to play the nice guy so much we get walked over, and this song motivates me to stop playing so nice and go for the f–king gold — period. J. Cole is a beast with both waking me up lyrically and provoking me to think of a better way of life. In a way, he’s kind of like a life-hack rapper.
7. Beyoncé (feat. Frank Ocean), “Superpower”
This song and visual reminds me of war on us, war on everything. They try to take us out one by one, but we stand together like we have a superpower. Although we get scared, we should know our DNA has loyalty and royalty. They only oppress us because if they didn’t, we would rule the world like how we rule the entertainment business. From music to sports, we have this magical superpower. This song makes me feel ambitious, bold, and courageous when February comes around — especially with Frank Ocean just chilling on the record. It’s the coolest feature, man.
TeaMarrr’s latest single “Kinda Love,” her debut on Raedio, was released last October. Enjoy her playlist below.