Masego's "Lady Lady": An Ode To The Beauty Of Woman
I can still remember when I heard Masego for the first time.
A few friends and I were hanging out after a late showing of Black Panther and taking turns playing DJ. On his turn, one of my friends played “Tadow,” and I was instantly hooked. I can’t pin down exactly what I felt when Masego sang “She be walking 'round so confident, so heaven-sent, I think she was meant to knock 'em dead like,” but I know it was a mixture of warmth and something just extraordinarily special. I gravitated toward Masego because his music felt familiar—like he was fluent in a language elusive to most men. I loved the masterfully blended bass, the raspy muted vocals, and the most loving lyrics. On that first listen, it was apparent that Masego is a man who loves women. A genuine kind of love that stretches deeper than aesthetics or potential extractable labor. Lady Lady is Masego’s manifestation of that love.
Lady Lady is a testament to Masego’s dedication to appreciating women loudly while also giving them a voice to shine without his praise. In the process of creating the album, he stressed how important women were to this body of music and his approach to life and art generally. Instead of just being a faceless, powerless muse, women were involved in every step of creating this album. From lyrical subject matter to floating harmonies in nearly every song, strong feminine energy is woven through all 47 minutes of this masterpiece. This energy tethers each song together and makes for a smooth, consistent vibe.
The album opens with “Silk,” which uses piano and orchestral instruments to build a sound that is warm and full before the abrasiveness of the drums kicks in on the second track, “I Had a Vision.” Masego pairs gentle, airy vocals with booming 808’s, evoking a feeling of being cloaked in the finest silk on ladies-only wine night. He dreams of being surrounded by strong, independent women who he can openly admire but who he knows aren’t seeking his validation. Straying from all too familiar verses about blindly lusting after beautiful women, Masego expresses a desire for women that feels more genuine and complete. He sexualizes the female form in a way that is appreciative, awestruck, and enamored.
After familiarizing myself with Masego I now realize my “extraordinarily special” feeling was surprise and joy for Masego’s devotion to Black women. In a contemporary, mainstream landscape, Black women are not often a beloved image that men draw inspiration from for their music. When men do involve women in their music (videos, lyrics, promo, etc.), Black women are often rendered as a faceless, nameless, sexual object. And even then, women with conventional attractiveness and lighter skin are more favorable. But I digress because Masego isn’t really on any of that. His album art and music videos feature women of all tones and textures, and he gives women a platform to shine on the album itself. “Queen Tings” pays homage to all of our favorite Black queens. On “Prone,” Masego fades in and out to draw focus to the enchanting harmony by the backing choir. And in “Black Love”—the culmination of the album’s thematic threads—Masego fantasizes about his long-awaited matrimonial commitment to his lady lady. Masego can effortlessly share his platform with women, Black women particularly, because that space he provides comes from a genuine place of love. Masego doesn’t have to employ empty gestures to get women on his side because his art already does the work.
This album reinforces the power and strength in femininity and womanhood, in all its varieties. It feels like soaking in an hour-long affirmation every time I press play. Lady Lady is a love letter to Black women, one that I hope every queen get to read one day.