ACL Review: Jamila Woods

Lyrical fist of the black female experience

Backed by a jazzy fourpiece, singer-songwriter-poet Jamila Woods poured shots of introspective coffee shop soul during an early-afternoon Sunday set in the Tito’s tent. Like the previous night’s headliner, Woods proudly hails from Chicago.

Photo by Shelley Hiam

In fact, Chance the Rapper is a frequent collaborator. You’ve likely sung along to Woods on the chorus of “Sunday Candy,” and he returns the favor on her debut LP Heavn. On Chance collabo “LSD” – that would be Lake Shore Drive – Woods demonstrates that she won’t stand for anyone talking down on the Windy City. Moving from the Midwest to the Milky Way, the 28-year-old tapped into a long history of Afro-futurism on “Way Up” and “Stellar.”

“Meet me in outer space,
We could spend the night.
I’ve grown tired of this place.
We could start again.”

Woods, who gave a shout-out to introverts and sings about finding the courage to love oneself, isn’t big on stage banter. And yet, near the end of the set under the steamy tent, she still dropped the realest quip uttered all weekend.

“Make some noise if ya got titty sweat!”

Her most poignant work centers on blackness and the black female experience in particular. “Blk Girl Soldier” honors freedom fighters Rosa Parks, Ella Baker, Audre Lorde, Angela Davis, Sojourner Truth, and Assata Shakur.

“Make some noise for all the black women out there,” she said before closing with the lyrical raised fist.

“See, she’s telepathic.
Call it black girl magic.
Yeah, she scares the gov’ment,
Déja vù of Tubman.”

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Jamila Woods, ACL Fest 2017, Chance the Rapper, Rosa Parks, Ella Baker, Audre Lorde, Angela Davis, Sojourner Truth, Assata Shakur

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