by James Hill
June 1, 2016
When you really think about it all music is really Black music — we invented the jazz, the blues, rock and rap — but some music is especially BLACK. Like incense and headwrap Black. Coco Butter in work desk Black. Argue over sugar or salt in grits Black.
So since it’s Black Music Month and our melanin is poppin’, we wanted to share with you the playlist that has us feeling ourselves.
Fight the Power — Public Enemy
In all seriousness, you should really get out of our way when this song comes on because we WILL toss some furniture in the name of Black righteousness. Rapper Chuck D is devoid of all chill as he airs out black grievances like “Elvis was a hero to most/But he never meant sh** to me you see/Straight up racist that sucker was Simple and plain Motherf***, him and John Wayne.” It would be petty if it wasn’t so damned true!
Charade — D’Angelo and The Vanguard
Remember when D’Angelo pulled a Beyonce and just surprised us with a brand new album out the blue? The reason was he wanted his album to join the voices of protest in 2014 when the Black Lives Matter movement was gaining ground. And Charade — his brilliant protest song disguised as a Prince jam — is validation of his push. Granted, D’Angelo’s voice is a little garbled on this but just check the chorus and tell us you don’t want to start marching right now — “All we wanted was a chance to talk/’Stead we only got outlined in chalk/Feet have bled a million miles we’ve walked/
Revealing at the end of the day, the charade.”
Four Women — Nina Simone
Imagine the Formation video as a living, breathing person who looked a bit like Lupita and sung like Leotyne Price. You’re almost to the Queen-level of Nina Simone who used the microphone to make aggressively and unapologetically Black music. Case in point, “Four Women,” a song that chronicles the lives of black women of all hues, classes and situations. Not convinced, imagine this lyric getting radio play “My skin is brown/my manner is tough/I’ll kill the first mother I see/my life has been too rough/I’m awfully bitter these days/because my parents were slaves.” #nochanceinhell
Lost Ones — Lauryn Hill
In 1998, Lauryn Hill’s solo album was THE blackest thing to happen. Night time wasn’t this black. From ballads to mid-tempo to reggae-light, she covered the spectrum but it was this stripped down hip-hop track that has us looking for our dashikis. It just SOUNDS important, like the what Malcolm would have listened to had he been born in 1980.
Buffalo Soldier — Bob Marley
We’re not sure what it is but even when Bob Marley sings about a love affair, it still feels like it should be part of your Black history syllabus. So when he sings about the pride of black soldiers who were “Stolen from Africa, brought to America/Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival” we can’t help but want to raise the fist.
TELL US: Any crucial tracks that we missed?