Successful Women Share Their Ultimate Road Trip Songs and Why They Move Them

Nine women share nine tracks to give you a jumpstart on your summer playlist. These songs represent the literal and metaphorical journeys of some inspiring women.

Africa Jackson May, 15, 2017

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First of all, let’s talk about the fact that this woman built a brand from the ground up. Her publication has more than 21,000 followers on Instagram and she has been the catalyst for dozens of entrepreneurs’ careers. Her series on Black men featured positive stories of brothers from all over the country at a time when Black men were being heavily criticized and routinely victimized by police. The song Superman extends her appreciate and love for Black men in a way that we are often told not to. Nay Marie’s portfolio is brimming with vibrant colors, Pan-African history, and social responsibility. Her journey as a business woman has involved both internal and external doubt, but through it all she has pushed herself and created some of the most memorable pieces. The longevity of Black Coffee’s career parallels her own path to success as an artist. We are excited to see what she does next. -- Nay Marie - Photographer + Owner of Taji Magazine New York

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There are few things more authentic than an artist who proudly relays the narratives of her people. Much like the artist she chose for one of her 10 best road trip songs, Selah Bey is not afraid to say what is unpopular. As a reading specialist in DC’s youth detention center, she challenged the administration to bring sustainable, culturally competent programming to her incarcerated students. Her life journey has been about becoming better than her last self. That state of self-perpetual upgrade drives her to move the world. “Sa Roc reminds me that to uplift humanity, we must start with Self.” She spent her teens dreaming of how to heal the world, cure us all of racism, womanism, and any other -ism that kept aboriginal girls from blooming as the starseeds that they are.Sa-Roc’s music reminds her that she still has the power to make that happen. BONUS TRACK! (because Black women refuse to fit in boxes, including the ones we create) - Selah Bey - educator, curriculum/reading specialist

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Ms. Nisey has been a staple in her community since before gentrification hit. She’s seen business come and go. She has served as the president of her city’s business association. She has mentored young Black female entrepreneurs in her spare time as well as promoting some of the most talented Black professionals in the DMV. Natalie Cole represents that joy she has worked at over the last 20+ years in her career. “I love Natalie Cole because many of her songs are sophisticated reflections of my energy. I love to party and I love having my Black man standing by me. I sang that song to him!” The impenetrable force that is Black love has always been a part of her motivation. Even after someone broke into her store, she persevered and continued to volunteer in the community. Nisey is adamant about bridging the generational gaps that prevent younger women from giving up so much of themselves with little or no return on investment. - Mrs. Nisey - Owner of Nisey’s Boutique, Maryland

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Over the last decade, Shauntrice has been through a lot. She lost her mother and great grandmother, she was arrested, she taught in the Dominican Republic, she got out of an abusive relationship, she had an abortion, and became a mother. Now that she lives in California, she her outlook is as bright as the weather she sees from the 101 traffic. Her mother always saw a future beyond the projects for Shauntrice and now that she is 32, her music choices reflect the parts of like she enjoys. “I am a Chance the Rapper fan because he makes me feel like it’s ok to connect with my spiritual side and speak up about my struggles. Through it all, we have to keep sending the praises up to Allah. I want to be the Chance the Rapper of youth development.” She also notes that Jamila Woods’ vocals on the track reminded her of the feeling she got as a young girl when she envisioned her future. She noted that there was hope in Jamila’s words. Shauntrice takes monthly road trips with her son, Iniejah (who happens to share an April 16th birthday with lil Chano from 79). - Shauntrice Martin - Youth Program Director, California

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When certain people think of Black women from Baltimore, ‘scholar’ is not the first word that comes to mind. That perfectly describes Ameena Ruffin though. Although Ameena would have likely been successful no matter what avenue she chose, debate has often been a way for her to challenge problematic norms. In addition to being the first Black woman to win the Cross Examination Debate Association Championship, she also teaches students in urban debate leagues across the country. Most people who achieve the level of success she has aren’t willing to go back to their roots. Dealing with white supremacy regularly comes with massive implications, but her go-to road trip song reminds her that she has to “drop them bags” and let go of the trolls so she can be the woman she wants to be. - Ameena Ruffin - scholar, national policy debate champion

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As a new mother and emerging attorney, Nakeena’s road trip playlists are usually full of throwbacks that remind her of the steps it took to get where she is. On top of a more than full time job and raising an adorable little boy, she is a mentor and program coordinator for a non-profit serving marginalized youth. Santigold is her go-to artist. When “Shove It” from her debut album comes on during a trip, she turns up the volume and sings along to release the weight of daily racial microaggressions and annoyances. “There’s something cathartic about road trips and this song that allows me to avoid going off on someone and being labeled an ‘angry Black woman’. When she listens to the lyrics, she gets an empowering reminder to stay true to herself despite the media, the government, and society telling us otherwise. - Nakeena Taylor - Attorney, California

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Maimouna Youssef is one of those women who make you happy to be a woman. From her natural curls to her raw talent, she encourages us all to celebrate the royal Black women we already are. Her track choice was based on the song’s vibe: a nice, sunny day. She is also a fan of Anderson Potts and Lauryn Hill because of the unique lanes they carved for themselves. As a writer, emcee, vocalist, actress, activist, and (most importantly) a mother, her experience in the industry has been punctuated with people who doubted her. Like the songs that reflect her life most accurately, though, she lets her spirit guide her. Music has played a major role in her life. “The artists I generally listen to make me reflect on my life. A common theme in any of my road trip playlists is this: don't assimilate. Don’t do what's comfortable. Be uncomfortable; that’s where growth lives.” - Maimouna Youssef - Artist + Activist, DC

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Minda Honey sounds like a safe enough name--it’s sweet and soft. As many have come to know, though, Minda Honey is not to be tested. Instead of choosing a song, she talked about the podcasts she listened to on her cross-country road trip last year. The most notable episode for her was about the absurdity of America’s non-reaction to police violence. During her trip, she thought about the tragic way Sandra Bland’s life ended. Much like Bland, Minda Honey is an educated woman committed to social justice. Her position as a Black woman--and more importantly our overall identity as Black women internationally often precludes us was things like road trips. That’s why when you google the top 10 road trip songs, the tracks don’t usually resonate with us. “ I love how Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams take issues of racism and sexism head-on and don't shy away from presenting the "melanin millennial" experience as is – it's not our problem if our existence makes you uncomfortable.” - Minda Honey - Writer + Editor, Kentucky

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"As soon as the Afrobeat sounds break through the aux cord, the Nigerian lyrics will move you. Although Abenaa is a Ghanaian woman who doesn’t speak Yoruba, the meaning behind the words still rings true to her experience. It is an Afrobeats tune with majority of the lyrics are in Yoruba. Her itinerary is often filled with long business trips and meetings. She is a high tech millennial woman on the move and recognizes that she is usually the youngest and darkest face in the room. “No matter my background, I have put in the work to have a respected seat at the table with major stakeholders. [This track] helps me remain rooted in a greater purpose to represent current and future African Americans in the industry." - Abenaa Addei – Business Development, DC

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Black women are more than the stereotypes we grow up seeing. These women are a ridiculously small decimal of a percentage of the Black women doing monumental work in their field. Let this playlist inspire you to write the soundtrack to your success for the summer time.

What’s on your playlist?