Chicago musician Jamila Woods turns to family and friends for inspiration in the moving video for her new song. “Giovanni” boasts a deep groove built out of crisp drums and glittering synths, over which Woods delivers a dexterous vocal performance, singing, “I be on my Giovanni, tea and honey/ Tell it like I see it/ Speak it so I be it/ My ancestors watch me/ Fairytale walking/ Black Goldilocks, yeah/ My naps just right.”
In a statement, Woods said “Giovanni” was inspired by Nikki Giovanni’s poem “Ego Trippin,” and is about “owning and celebrating all the parts of myself. It’s about legacy and lineage, and how the love and strength of the people who made me makes me feel invincible.”
Woods and Vincent Martell co-directed the video for “Giovanni.” The clip places footage of Woods performing the cut alongside interviews with several black women, including Woods’ grandmother and mother.
“I wanted to feature these women and interview them about what makes them feel strong, what makes them feel powerful, what they love about themselves, what they have learned about themselves,” Woods said in an interview with the Poetry Foundation. “We played around with different places to insert the interviews, but it felt right to put them in the middle as opposed to in a separate video or at the end. Having my grandmother and mom bookend it, and having the rest of the women in the middle, felt like the answer to the question of there must be a reason why. They are the reason why.”
“Giovanni” marks Woods’ first piece of new music since her acclaimed 2016 solo debut, Heavn. The record featured contributions from fellow Chicago musicians Chance the Rapper, Saba and Kweku Collins.