Dawn Richard - Second Line
Much like the New Orleans–born artist who created it, Second Line is an unapologetic genre bender that pushes boundaries, expands possibilities, and shatters expectations. It’s more than just an album: Second Line is a cohesive sensory experience that questions traditional ideas of sound, production, and visual aesthetics as they relate to music. Its interlocking parts tell an epic story about the quest for artistic expression, with Dawn describing her project as “a movement to bring pioneering Black women in electronic music to the forefront.” She elaborates: “You never see women appreciated as producers and artists alike—especially Black women in the electronic space. The time is now for us to start recognizing their talent, not only in electronic music but in all genres. I wanna be the reason why a young Black girl from the South can be whoever she wants to be musically, visually, and artistically.” Second Line cuts to the chase with its opening suite of dancefloor bangers, immediately displaying Dawn’s mastery of layered production and melodic hooks. Second Line treats Louisiana Creole culture, New Orleans bounce, and Southern Swag as elemental, allowing Dawn to weave in and out of house, footwork, R&B, and more. As she says, “I am the genre.” As a founding member of Danity Kane, and later with Diddy’s Dirty Money, Dawn was able to explore the ins and outs of commercial pop music. As a solo artist, she opted to self-release her music. Over the span of five critically acclaimed full-length albums, Dawn has made the message clear that she will not bow down or bend to industry norms. All the while, she’s built her resume with enough extracurriculars to make your head spin: Cheerleader for the New Orleans Pelicans? Check. Animator for Adult Swim? Check. Owner-operator of a vegan pop-up food truck? Check. Martial arts expert? Check!