If you’re like us, you celebrate Black music every single day by supporting your favorite artist, streaming their music and singing along to their lyrics like they were personally written for you. In June, the world collectively joins in to spotlight how Black music continues to influence the culture through sound, fashion and creative visuals that inspire us in so many ways. Some albums even become whole movements like Beyonce’s Lemonade.
Some albums become markers in time like Cardi B’s Invasion Of Privacy or Toni Braxton’s self-titled debut. All of them have fashion and style in common. This Music Month, we’re looking back at classic Black albums that have style.
I know exactly where I was when Formation dropped. The visuals sent shockwaves through the Internet and the sound was unlike anything we had ever heard from Beyonce. Then she dropped Lemonade — an ode to the Black woman experience and it was clear, Beyonce out Beyonce’d herself. The Grammy-nominated disc is Bey’s magnum opus and became a rally cry for Black women to suit up and get in formation.
The cover featured Beyonce hunched over a truck while her blonde cornrows cascade into her fur coat. Gold jewels line her earlobe. The cover, which was a glimpse into the upcoming video for her song Don’t Hurt Yourself set the tone of the album and set the Internet on fire.
Marni Senofonte was the mastermind behind Lemonade’s looks and told Vogue her inspiration was “antebellum-slash-Victorian-slash-modern-day.”
Cardi B- Invasion Of Privacy
Cardi B’s highly anticipated album Invasion Of Privacy didn’t disappoint music or fashion wise. Cardi wore a black and white checkerboard look by Christian Cowan, straight off the runway, with a short wig that completed the retro vibes.
Invasion Of Privacy turned three in April and Cardi B took to Twitter to celebrate by tweeting, “I get real sweet and bittersweet memories when I listen to the album, I faced many challenges thru the process and after but the outcome was beautiful and successful. Love you forever.”
Balancing pregnancy and career is certainly challenging. Cardi was secretly pregnant while filming the visuals for her album and revealed her pregnancy in a gorgeous white dress on SNL.
Toni Braxton- Toni Braxton
Toni Braxton’s self-titled debut album cover is so iconic, Beyonce recreated it for Halloween. Toni Braxton’s short cut, leather jacket, jeans and white tank became a classic album cover that spawned style trends in the 90s. Everybody wanted the Toni Braxton cut. Not only was Toni’s cover a vibe, the album provided classic R&B joints like Another Sad Love Song, Breath Again and You Mean The World To Me.
Janet Jackson- ‘Control’
Janet Jackson’s Control album was a pivotal moment in the superstar’s career. The album’s lyrical content and imagery catapulted Janet from child star to modern sex symbol. The cover was illustrated by iconic fashion photographer illustrator Tony Viramontes.
In the book Bold, Beautiful and Damned: The World of 1980s Fashion Illustrator Tony Viramontes, author Dean Rhys Morgan wrote Janet “transformed from a former child star into an assured fashion forward figure with her trendsetting big hair and severe all black ensemble. Until this point, Jackson had been more a reflection than pioneer, more interpreter than innovator. This album was all about Janet and who she wanted to be.”
Foxy Brown- Broken Silence
Foxy Brown lived up to her “Christian Dior poster girl” moniker on the cover of her Broken Silence album cover. The brown skin beauty wore a Christian Dior bikini and CD sunglasses while giving us baby hair real was and hoop earrings before edge control was a thing. Foxy was serving mainstream melanin a long time ago!
Foxy Brown and Lil’ Kim are fashion pioneers in hip-hop. Their dual presence in the game, in the 90s, bridged the gap between the emerging genre with high fashion.
Writer Janelle Haris wrote in Elle, “As the only females in their crews, their fashion choices pushed beyond standard, attention-getting sexiness to command power in a male-dominated genre, in a male-dominated industry.”
Marlo Hampton paid homage to the BK rapstress and recreated Foxy’s cover for Halloween.