Top music picks in honor of Black History Month

Illustration by Roe Gassett | The Signal

While celebrating another year of Black History Month, it is imperative to acknowledge Black people’s contributions toward the music scene.

Black History Month is a nationally recognized holiday whose observance began in 1976, and people continue to celebrate it and prominent Black figures every day.

As a category of Black history, music continues to evolve over the years. No matter the genre, Black people always know how to make good music and a good time. 

This playlist, consisting of music from the 1970s and the 2000s, is a modern-day representation of Black history.  

  1. Wake Up Everybody” by John Legend feat. The Roots, Common and Melanie Fiona. 

Harold Melvin, The Blue Notes and Teddy Pendergrass created this song in 1975. John Legend’s modern and upbeat rendition of the song gives off positive and hopeful vibes. 

Both versions of this song gave Black people hope and motivation to keep on doing the best they can despite dealing with racial inequality in the world around them. With its cheerful chorus, it makes it hard to stay in a bad mood for long.

  1. Freedom” by Beyoncé feat. Kendrick Lamar.

Given the title and the lyrics of this song, this track is not only a fight song but a cry for freedom. This song, released in 2016, is an anthem for many people who find every day to be a constant battle to make it through the world. 

Themes of perseverance, unity and racial discrimination charge through this song, as Beyoncé calls for the Black community to come together and demand their long-overdue freedom. The song asks the same question Black people continually ask: “Freedom, where are you?” 

Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar graced the stage at the BET Awards in 2016 to perform this powerful song. Lamar’s raw and bold feature with Beyoncé’s colorful vocals makes this a timeless song.

  1. Do It On The Tip” by Megan Thee Stallion feat. The City Girls.

Megan Thee Stallion has topped the hip-hop charts all year long and has yet to let up. She dropped her well anticipated album in November 2020, and this epic collaboration brought together people from different area codes to rejoice in yet another “hot girl” anthem. 

Megan Thee Stallion never fails to give Black girls the confidence they might need with her explicit lyrics along with the City Girls’ rhythmic bars.

  1. Good Days” by SZA.

Although SZA is known for her mumbling melodies, she has a voice that makes people want to take a breath of fresh air and smell the roses. With such grace and soothing tones, “Good Days” is one of the few songs that SZA published, and it became quite the fan favorite in the R&B world. 

SZA’s music creates an atmosphere for Black people to be carefree and fall in love with themselves and the world around them. Despite her dropping music at a moderate rate, she still manages to release beautiful works of art.

Whether someone’s favorite music genre is pop, jazz or rock, Black people use music to heal, praise and cry through all of their experiences.