Whoa Dakota is finally allowing herself to be fully seen without apology. It took plenty of heartache, but she now stands confident in her own skin. On her new song “Baggage,” a slippery R&B jam, she sheds the past and emerges as a butterfly from its cocoon. “Is it cool if I set my baggage down?” she sings. It’s less a question than a firm, unshakable declaration about resilience, self-love, and vulnerability.
“I realized how many times in relationships, both romantic and otherwise, I had traditionally abandoned myself in order to make the other person more comfortable,” she says. “[This song] is also about allowing space in the allyship of feminism for the evolved man.”
“Those men that recognize they will never fully understand what we as women have been through,” the Nashville singer-songwriter continues, “but who make themselves available to listen and champion the women that they date, marry, work with, or are in friendship with, as well as women they may never encounter.”
“Tell me how I got in this hole / I’ve heard the way out is to say ‘I’m sorry,’” she sings with the second verse, continuing to come into her own. “Oooh, you don’t buy that at all / You say it’s not like that / But now I’m right back.”
“Baggage,” co-written with Daniel Pingrey and Collin Gundry, pairs comfortably against a hyper-stylized music video, directed by Samantha Zaruba and filmed/edited by Josh Mendez. Classic housewife imagery plays completely into Whoa Dakota’s redemptive arc and archaic traditions about women’s roles finally being broken and rearranged. Think “Desperate Housewives” with an even sharper empowered edge.
“Our baggage can be so ugly ─ to us, our own traumas and trauma responses can seem as sinister and brutal as hiding dead bodies,” offers Zaruba. “I know I personally used to be very performative in my relationships, and it can be terrifying to show someone everything about you without being afraid they’ll flee. I wanted to show the romantic message of this song in a dark, but ultimately quirky and sweet visual.”
“I think the performative nature of Jess as the housewife lends itself to how inauthentic we can be with people when we hide ourselves,” she continues. “It was important to me that we show the blood at the beginning before the costume and persona change and have her feed it to her husband. Our baggage is always present whether we’re upfront about it or not. Putting a bow on top of a pile of dung is still going to stink. The responsible thing is to do the work and be honest about where you’re at.”
“Baggage” is the latest in a string of singles this year, including “Walk Right By” and “In Spite of Ourselves.” In addition to her solo work, she has also forged a new duo with Gundry, most known for his creative endeavour Tuxedo Wildlife. They released their debut single “Hollywood” earlier this fall.
Watch the “Baggage” visual below.
Photo by BEESHOOTiN