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[PLAYLIST]: Black artists for your queue

February 22, 2019

As the end of Black History Month is approaching, many have yet to celebrate black culture. Here is a short playlist to hopefully get one thinking about how black artists, and black people in general, have put the careers on the line to advocate for civil rights.

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Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit”

Billie Holiday was a prolific African American jazz and pop artist who provides a lot of influence to people even today. The lyrics of one of her most famous songs, “Strange Fruit,” describes the lynching of thousands of black victims across America. It symbolizes the brutality that was normalized in that era, the song has been described by many as “a declaration of war” and “the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement.” Other artists, such as Nina Simone, have covered the song as well.

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Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come”

When black artist Sam Cooke started writing music, political views were not normally expressed through music, and especially through black people during the Civil Rights period. When he and his wife were refused at a whites-only hotel in 1963, Cooke decided that he would not be silenced. This was his first song vocally coming out about the injustices that African Americans face every day.

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Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues”

Marvin Gaye, a soul musician in the ’60s, wrote this song about the despair and sadness in the inner cities of America. Marvin Gaye shows a very emotional side of being a black man in the city and the challenges that he has faced.

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2pac’s “Keep Ya Head Up”

Latasha Harlins was a young black girl who was shot in the head when she was 15 in 1991. She was accused of shoplifting. Tupac released this song as an effort to speak out against police brutality and racial profiling. It leaves an eerie impact on the black community because four years later, Tupac died due to a gun as well. 

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Kendrick Lamar “Alright”

“Alright” by contemporary artist Kendrick Lamar represents the Black Lives Matter Movement. His performance of the song at the 2016 Grammys, the video of which has been taken down, showed his astonishing performance of slave imagery and black men in chains. The song connects the past to the present in terms of civil rights for black people.

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Solange’s “Don’t Touch My Hair”

This song is a call out to the beautiful black features and people that are exhibited in media and fashion to look cool by non-black people. Solange sings about being robbed of her identity as a black woman and the experience that others have relating to her. 

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Sounds of Blackness’s “Optimistic”

This song reminds people that even though there have been so many bad things, especially surrounding the civil rights movement for black people, we must be optimistic. The song talks about the big protest, and the big protest is in order for living your best life.

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Chuck Berry’s “Brown Eyed Handsome Man”

The lyrics of this song are very direct and obvious. They talk about all the achievements that black men have accomplished and the triumph of black history. It is honorable that Berry was unafraid to so explicitly state his problems with the way society treats black people. 

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Stream these songs via the Rubicon’s Spotify: @therubiconspa.

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