Jamila Woods Album Reviews

Chicago’s Jamila Woods is a recording artist and writer. She graduated from Brown University with a B.A. in Africana Studies and Theater & Performance Studies. Her poetry has been featured in anthologies like Courage: Daring Poems for Gutsy Girls, and both her writing and music focus on the themes of black feminism and self-love.

Woods’ musical career started with the soul-pop band Milo & Otis, which she formed with classmate Owen Hill. The duo released two records before splitting in 2014, and Woods released her first solo album, Heavn, in 2016. She’s also guested on tracks by Chance the Rapper and Macklemore.

Woods’ music is a continuation of previous generations of soul and R&B. She grew up listening to Stevie Wonder, and her smooth grooves and political conscience connect her to the previous neo-soul stars, like Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill.

Jamila Woods Album Reviews

Heavn | Legacy! Legacy!



2016, 8/10
Jamila Woods already had plenty of musical experience when she cut her debut – two albums in soul-pop band Milo & Otis, as well as singing the hook on Donnie Trumpet’s ‘Sunday Candy’. Her debut record features fellow Chicago artists Chance the Rapper, Saba, and Trumpet, and the lyrics reflect her passions – black feminism, the city of Chicago, and self-love.

Woods has an endearing habit of quoting other songs, including the melody line – ‘Breadcrumbs’ takes a line from Stevie Wonder’s ‘All I Do’, ‘Lonely Lonely’ quotes from Paula Cole’s ‘I Don’t Wanna Wait’, while ‘Way Up’ uses the opening line from Janelle Monae’s ‘Violet Stars Happy Hunting!’ as its own launching point. The Cure, Radiohead, and Incubus are also quoted.

The standout track is ‘Blk Girl Soldier’, a vibrant protest song with centuries of rage channeled into positive action. There’s a great vocal melody, propulsive percussion, and a low humming synth bass. The bridge was taken from Black Lives Matter protest marches; “Rosa was a freedom fighter/And she taught us how to fight”. Woods isn’t solely political – ‘Holy’ is a confident statement about self-love, while she’s vulnerable on ‘Lonely Lonely’.

Heavn is an articulate debut album from Woods, setting the scene for an amazing sophomore effort.

Legacy! Legacy!

2019, 9.5/10
Jamila Woods dedicated her second album to twelve of her heroes. Each of the tracks is named for one of Woods’ role models and is intended as a self-portrait of a ground-breaking creative force. Legacy! Legacy! features musical portraits of:
– funk musician Betty Davis
– author Zora Neale Hurston
– poet Nicky Giovanni
– poet Sonia Sanchez
– artist Frida Kahlo
– singer Eartha Kitt
– jazz trumpeter Miles Davis
– blues musician Muddy Waters
– artist Jean-Michel Basquiat
– jazz musician Sun Ra
– author Octavia Butler
– author James Baldwin

The music’s great – classy and organic R&B – but it’s the theme that makes Legacy! Legacy! stand apart. With her own successful career as a poet and using other literary figures as inspiration, Woods has great lines all over Legacy! Legacy!

I like you better when you see me less
I like me better when I’m not so stressed
Can we do it like Frida? We could build a bridge then
I could come see ya, just not where I live

Frida – Jamila Woods

‘Frida’ refers to the bridge that married couple Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera constructed between their separate homes. Woods grew up in the only black family in an Irish neighbourhood in Chicago, and she related to Zora Neale Hurston’s line “I felt most colored when I was thrown against a sharp white background.” In standout track ‘Zora’, Woods sings “Must be disconcerting how I discombob’ your mold/I’ve always been the only, every classroom, every home.”

Legacy! Legacy! is an outstanding sophomore record from Woods, a masterpiece that works even without its thematic heft.

Five Best Jamila Woods Songs

Blk Girl Soldier

Back to 2010s Album Reviews….

Leave a Reply

More from Aphoristic Album Reviews

Aphoristic Album Reviews is almost entirely written by one person.

Default image
Aphoristical View Profile
Graham Fyfe is probably the only music blogger to appreciate Neil Diamond and Ariana Grande. Aphoristic Album Reviews features reviews and blog posts across a growing spectrum of popular music.

Review Pages

Read about the discographies of musical acts from the 1960s to the present day. Browse this site's review archives or enjoy these random selections:

Bruce Springsteen - The Promise
Bruce Springsteen Album Reviews

Based on his radio hits I once classed Bruce Springsteen as a lame rocker, responsible for lowest common denominator anthems such […]
John Martyn Album Reviews

John Martyn was born Iain David McGeachy, the son of two opera singers – a surprising lineage given his characteristic […]
Miranda Lambert Album Reviews

Miranda Lambert was born in Longview, Texas. Her parents were private detectives and then ran a shelter for abused women […]
The Finn Brothers Everyone is Here
Finn Brothers

I’ve already covered the Split Enz and Crowded House catalogues separately – this page covers Neil and Tim Finn’s solo […]
Vampire Weekend Album Reviews

Ezra Koenig and drummer Chris Tomson started playing together in a rap collaboration named “L’Homme Run” while attending Columbia University. […]
Can Album Reviews

The experimental band Can were formed in Cologne in 1968. Keyboardist Irmin Schmidt and bassist Holger Czukay came from avant-garde […]

Blog Posts

I add new blog posts to this website every week. Browse the archives or enjoy these random selections:

10 Best Matthew Sweet Songs

Power-pop legend Matthew Sweet was born in Nebraska, but moved to Athens, Georgia, to join the local alt-rock scene. He […]
Husker Du Warehouse Songs and Stories
10 Best Hüsker Dü Songs

Hüsker Dü are among the embarrassment of riches to emerge from Minnesota in the 1980s – their contemporaries included Prince, […]
Fountains of Wayne debut
Fountains of Wayne: Albums Ranked from Worst to Best

When New York power-pop band Fountains of Wayne were nominated for a Grammy for Best New Artist in 2004, they’d […]
Jackson Browne's 1970s Albums: Ranked from Worst to Best

Jackson Browne is the quintessential 1970s singer-songwriter, a sensitive individual who analysed his difficult relationships into songs. He was extremely […]
Jimmy Webb Ten Easy Pieces
Jimmy Webb: Five Best Albums

Jimmy Webb enjoyed a sterling career as a songwriter in the 1960s – his website bills him as “America’s Songwriter”, […]
The Replacements Tim
10 Best Replacements Songs

In the 1980s hair-metal and synth-infusions represented the mainstream of rock, and a scrappy rock ‘n roll band from Minneapolis […]