A Review of Nia’s Melanin

Lately the social media community endorsed the #Melanin hash-tag contemporaneously with other trendy hash-tags to celebrate blackness. Imagine the lyric rapture that struck me after listening to Nia’s Melanin, an anomaly at the time, a rare gem loaded with black pride and self satisfaction in a country whose youths have been deranged by the notion: yellow-bone is the new beautiful. Once upon a girl child in Zimbabwe, skin lightening crèmes became the messianic bridge from being too dark to becoming “beautiful” or yellow-boned.

As an agent of Melanin pride, Nia says “you don’t have to change, hold your head up high. You’ll be glowing, oh please don’t hide.”
After listening to her song I bursted into somewhat a series of midnight soliloquies and the question that first approached my mind was: when was the first time you listened to a pithy, well crafted song with harmonious vocals and notes that are symphonically arranged and at the same time conveying such a salient message? My answer was Nina Simone. The last time I listened to such a song? My answer was Nia.
And the last time I heard someone being proud yet not so narcissistic about embracing their blackness in this generation? That would be Nia, in her song:
Pandinopfuura mafesi ese anomira hoo, huya padhuze baby unyatsonditarira, ndiudze zvawaona pawanditarisa, mukadzi wawaona pawanditarisa, haana mamwe mafuta aanoshandisa. Natural beauty ndinoikoshesa.
Melanin is such a song that I think will survive the vicissitudes of time, unlike other artists whose music is usually termed ‘bubblegum’ music because of their inability to create art that is ornate yet promising to stick around for a while. I think Nia has managed to create a bullet that will not only hit the surface of our ears and ricochet. She created a bullet that will hit the surface of our ears, trance our hearts and stay there reminding us to embrace and celebrate ourselves the way we are.

© Elizabeth Semende 🌼IMG_20180603_161523_909


7 thoughts on “A Review of Nia’s Melanin

  1. I was brought up during the 1960s and 1970s and Black kids on the playground used to pick at me something awful because of my dark skin. Often I would come home from school crying. My Dad Edward Palmer would gather me into his arms comforting me by saying the Blacker the Berry the Sweeter the Juice. If the berrys too light it has no use.
    Now that I’m fast approaching age 60 I really appreciate all this deep melanin. No wrinkles and both Black and white people think I’m in my 40s! There are benefits to being dark skin.


  2. “Iwewe Yellow Bone huya kuno”: a line from Freeman’s club banger, “Yellow Bone”. “Pandakuona ndafunga kuti uri murungu”, an opening line to one of Trevor Dongo’s 2017 songs. Not speaking of numerous videos ana Jah Prayzah and many others that fetishize yellow bones. Melanin annihilation! It’s good when we have conscious artists!


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