Happy August folks. It’s hard to believe that right around this time last year I was preparing to get married and begin my first year as a postdoctoral fellow at Brown University in the music department. Every month that I tumble deeper into 2020, my pre-pandemic life feels more and more like it was just a fever dream. But there are a few joys that remind me of the life that existed before all of this, music being the primary one. So, for a moment I’d like to celebrate some truly exceptional tunes through my August pick for the First Thursday series. This month’s choice is a little bit unconventional in the sense that my artist picks are usually up-and-comers and/or folks who should be getting astronomically more shine. This month’s artist already has quite a sizable, much-deserved, international fanbase, and has been a staple in many Hip Hop and activists spaces for some time now. Even so, I think she deserves much more love—as a brilliant producer, MC, and scholar, this month’s artist combines dense multi-layered rhymes with live instrumentation to craft incredibly rich and vibrant rap vignettes about love, Black womanhood, and liberation. Her care and commitment to language shine through on every bar, and her silky delivery lays in your ear like warm butter on toast. This month’s artist is none other than ms. akua naru. Check out her incredible video for “My Mother’s Daughter” and more of her music here + then tune into my other First Thursday picks here. And when you’re done doing that, make sure you pick up a $10 ticket for this dope women’s rap festival she’s headlining on August 29th.