Normani on Embracing Her Blackness on ‘Dopamine’

June 14, 2024
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In her review of Normani‘s debut album Dopamine, Mankaprr Conteh points to the pop-R&B singer’s “creative reverence” for Black culture across its 13 songs. For Normani, staying true to her identity as a Black woman across the LP was more than intentional. It was necessary.

When speaking to Rolling Stone about the album that dropped Friday, Normani shared that she felt like she was “showing up” for herself by embracing her Blackness after feeling like she had to mute it while she was a member of Fifth Harmony.

“Before, I definitely wasn’t able to be all that I am and have that be represented,” she said, “which is why it means so much, especially when selecting records or when in the studio creating specific songs, for me to feel like I’m showing up for myself.”

“I’m showing up and I’m representing my Blackness, but I also know that I’m a Black woman that does pop music. That is also part of my lineage because of where I come from,” she added. “I feel like I’ve had to really remind myself and have serious conversations with myself that I’m all of these things and that I don’t deserve to be limited.”

During her interview with Rolling Stone, Normani pointed to the myriad Black artists that came before her as inspirations for her record. She specifically pointed to Janet Jackson as a reference for “Lights On,” Brandy’s “A Capella (Something’s Missing)” for “Insomnia,” and Missy Elliott production across the album.

“They’re literally the reason why I do what I do and why I’m able to be in the position that I am in: Black women,” Normani said. “They redefined the standard of beauty, but also just the standard in music. I feel like Brandy and Janet have really been disruptive in their own ways.”

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In her review for Rolling Stone, Conteh praised the singer for being a “star pupil” of the “mavens of Black culture.”

“It’s an ode to the specificity of her Southern Black womanhood, with brassy horns, chopped vocals, Mike Jones samples, references to Pimp C, OutKast, lean, and slabs, and a newly liberal use of the N-word,” read the review.



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