Soulful Chicagoan songstress Jamila Woods’ debut, HEAVN, has finally arrived after over a year of show-stealing guest spots on the Social Experiment’s “Sunday Candy,” Macklemore’s “White Privilege II,” Kweku Collins’ “Ego Killed The Romance” and one of Chance The Rapper’s “Blessings” among others. In terms of her own material, we’ve already heard the title track and the Lake Shore Drive/Chi Town ode “LSD.” Today the whole gorgeous thing is available for streaming.
Contributions from the rising stars of the Chi’s bubbling music scene plus Woods’ potent pen and joy-inspiring voice combine for a versatile, full, lush collection of songs. The healing neo-soul of “Lonely Lonely” and “Emerald St.”, jagged hip-hop of “blk girl soldier,” and folk rock vibes of “Stellar” get even more far-flung, but coalesce into a beautifully melded body of work. It’s a cohesive, ambitious offering that manages to capture the ambivalence in the love and pride she has for her plagued city and the people that are trying desperately to heal it. It’s a much needed expression of black love, self-care, empathy, anger, and passion in the wake of the events of last week, that should resonate far beyond the Chicago city limits. Here’s what Woods had to say about the album:
HEAVN is about black girlhood, about Chicago, about the people we miss who have gone on to prepare a place for us somewhere else, about the city/world we aspire to live in. I hope this album encourages listeners to love themselves and love each other. For black and brown people, caring for ourselves and each other is not a neutral act. It is a necessary and radical part of the struggle to create a more just society. Our healing and survival are essential to the fight.
Can you say Chi nation? Listen.
HEAVN is out now via Closed Sessions.