Rising R&B star Muni Long is the latest in a long line of artists in pop and R&B destigmatizing the discussion around women and sex. Her latest song “Bodies” is a sultry yet affirming anthem about taking back ownership of ones sexual history, on which Long talks matter-of-factly about her own past: “So what, I had a lot of sex? Least it was safe.” Before that, she released a silky collaboration with Sukihana about reclaiming their “Thot Thoughts.” Speaking to Paper about the song, she said she was glad to sing about a “historically taboo subject” in a casual way.
It was unsurprising, then, when NYLON asked Long to put together a playlist of songs by women artists who have influenced her and her artistry over the years, she picked songs from other taboo-breaking women in music history — from the pop provocation of Janet Jackson to the intimate songwriting of Joni Mitchell.
Though Long made her official debut as a solo artist last November with her EP Black Like This, she’s actually been in the industry for years largely working as a hit songwriter under her real name, Priscilla Renea Hamilton. Over her decades long career, she’s written with a vast bunch of artists from Ariana Grande to Mary J. Blige, and even Ke$ha — Long helped co-write her hit “Timber” with Pitbull. Her songwriter ear and influences reveal themselves on her playlist as her genre-ranging picks jump from Jackson’s sparkling dance track “Someone To Call My Lover,” and into the sunny, climate-anxious message of Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi. Before long, it feels like a stroll through the careers of some of the most influential women songwriters in music history: Imogene Heap, Aaliyah, and Alanis Morissette.
Dive into Long’s picks below, and read on for more of Long’s thoughts on her song “Bodies,” and the important lesson she’s learned from the women in her life.
Is there a song in this playlist that is particularly special to you/means a lot to you?
Every song on this playlist is representative of a portion of my life. I listen to these songs regularly and each has influenced my creativity in some way shape or form. If I absolutely had to pick one though, it would be “La Tortura” by Shaki!
"Bodies" is all about owning your sexuality and your sexual history; do you still see a gap in the way women are allowed to talk about their sexuality on songs?
I think it’s not up to anyone but us as women to decide what we want to say and how and when we will say it. The more fearless leading-edge women who step out and tell their authentic truths, the more we liberate those who might have any reservations around the idea.
What's something important that you've learned from the women in your life?
One important thing I learned from my mother is “people will teach you how to treat them.” Which translates to: eventually you will tire of folks taking advantage of your kindness and you will go into beast mode like a momma bear protecting her cubs. I’m definitely a momma bear right now.