Happy Black History Month!
Music soundtracks the struggles and triumphs of black life. From gospel to blues to what is dubbed “reality rap,” black musicians bare their souls to create art that relates to our daily experiences. I started out making a playlist about hope but couldn’t stay away from the protest songs we’ve accumulated over the decades: songs about lynchings, police brutality, and life in impoverished conditions. As a student of music, I saw fit to cover a narrative that wades through these emotions and accepts them without judgement. The hope, the satire, the vulgarity*, the anger – all valid here. We are policed enough by others for expressing our blackness so why do it to ourselves? The playlist begins in 1939 with Billie Holiday singing about the Jim Crow era, travels to the 70s in hopes of some interplanetary relief with Parliament, and rests in the present day knowing “this ish is for us.”
Other songs in rotation this month: “VRY BLK” by Jamila Woods, “Say It Loud I’m Black and I’m Proud” by James Brown, “Everyday People” and “Don’t Call Me N***er, Whitey” by Sly and the Family Stone, “Alright” by Kendrick Lamar, Motown everything
*I’ve opted not to censor these songs so listener discretion is advised; some of the language may be uncomfortable. “They Don’t Care About Us” was censored by the artist himself after he faced backlash for Antisemitism*