“They say the blacker the berry the sweeter the juice, I say the darker the skin then the deeper the roots.” Roots are what ground us all to this earth. Sometimes the roots get tangled and sometimes the roots get severed. This mix will hit different because it encompasses strength, resilience and pride for a marginalized group of people in this world who just want freedom, respect and equality – STILL…to this very day, so don’t believe the hype. The music chosen for this playlist is what has helped fuel the energy towards marches and movements, boycotts and walkouts. Organized and created to protect and preserve a cultural identity that continues to get abused and used up. It’s been a little over 150 years since slavery ended after the Civil War, yet we’re still protesting and we’re still fighting the powers that be for just a sliver of that American pie.
01. Say It loud || James Brown || 1968
Have to start the playlist off right with this James Brown classic to set the tone!
02. Fight The Power || Public Enemy || 1990
Don’t believe the hype! As soon as I put this song on I immediately think of Spike Lee’s classic film Do the Right Thing. Public Enemy’s entire music catalog is steeped in empowering the people and calling out blatant injustices (911 Is a Joke and Burn Hollywood are prime examples) without resulting to self-destructive methods; demonstrating how music can be used as a nonviolent way to get your message across.
03. Chains || Usher feat. Bibi Bourelly & Nas || 2015
You can not find this song anywhere on an Usher album, but apparently he released this during the peak of police shootings of black men (and boys) via the Tidal streaming service. I saw this performed live on a late night talk show and it was beyond POWERFUL!
04. Black || Buddy feat. ASAP Ferg || 2018
I fell in love with this song due to a viral video making the rounds on all of social media featuring several black women dancing. It’s awesome.
05. Black Girl Pain || Talib Kweli feat. Jean Grae || 2004
“I keep her hair braided / Bought her a black barbie / I keep her mind free / She ain’t no black zombie.” First off, Talib is like in my top 5 all-time favorite rappers. Now that we got that out of the way — this song speaks to me on so many levels. “They just know the name they don’t know the pain.” The struggle to be a black woman in this society is really real out here and the pain can be unbearable at times.
06. All Black Everything || Lupe Fiasco || 2011
Lupe is in my top 10 favorite rappers of all-time. His music possesses a lot of great messages and this song is no different as he gives the listener a glimpse of a world in reverse.
07. Alright || Kendrick Lamar || 2015
To not add a Kendrick Lamar track would have been sacrilegious especially with all the socially conscious gems on the To Pimp A butterfhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AaAMJZNi5f4ly album. He hits us with the classic Sofia line from A Color Purple “Alls my life I had to fight” before going in. Let’s not forget the music video, which is on a whole other level of black excellence.
08. F.U.B.U. || Solange || 2016
When this song pops up on the playlist I feel a certain level of confidence. The identity and culture of black people has been stolen from, stripped away and whitewashed so much so to the point of nonexistence. Never imagined in this day and age there would be rules, policies and laws about how a person can wear their own hair, and that’s just a minor grievance in a long list of grievances that shouldn’t even be issues.
09. Can’t Be Stopped [hidden track] || Janet Jackson || 1997
Janet has been using her music to combat injustices since 1989 with her album Rhythm Nation 1814 (which had I been thinking clearly, I would have added her song The Knowledge to this list). With each album thereafter she has created music continuing the rhetoric from her infamous RN1814 album. As a matter of fact, she and Chuck D of Public Enemy (who are #2 on this list) did a song together called New Agenda about none other than changing the state of the world and making it a better place. Can’t be Stopped is no different except it’s speaking directly to the oppressed and encouraging them to power on and persevere no matter what.
10. A Song For Assata || Common feat. Cee-lo || 2000
Everybody’s favorite freestyler tells the story of activist and prominent member of the Black Panther Party, Assata Shakur, in 3 minutes and 49 seconds of glorious storytelling.
Heed The Word Of the Brother || X-Clan || 1990
My brothers and sisters from the X-Clan are the true definition of blackity black black black and may be a bit more than some can handle, but they were definitely needed in hip-hop during their time. Their music was a definitive lesson in black history.
It’s true what they say, “the more things change, the more things stay the same.” Bigotry is still happening. Prejudice is still happening. Racism is still happening. Keep fighting the good fight!