This weekend, we honor the national holiday of June 19 with a double celebration of the holiday and June as Black Music Month. Throughout the weekend and the days leading up to it, we’ll be featuring music from black musicians spanning genres and decades. We pay homage to their storytelling and culture that has influenced the history of music since its origins and continues to inspire a new generation.
Below are 10 albums by black musicians you should check out to celebrate Juneteenth and Black Music Month:
Sault- Untitled (edited)
In a year filled with tumultuous protests for racial justice came mysterious British band Sault’s second album of 2020: Untitled (Black is). The album is filled with warnings of “boys in blue”, threats to black freedom, bloodshed and violence…and yet, in the end, “Black is so warm and so pure, and when all else fails, Black endures”. The black is a protest album and a grief album and an important series of stories told through the eyes of a collection of black musicians.
Nina Simone- Silk & Soul
Nina Simone, was not only known as a singer and pianist, but as a civil rights activist. His many albums spanned decades and told stories of love, heartbreak, longing through the lens of Blackness. Silk & Soul features Nina’s powerful voice and classic piano, jazz and funk sounds, making it even harder to put her musicality in a box. Her sultry voice and powerful storytelling have inspired generations of musicians.
Mustafa- When the smoke rises
Toronto singer Mustafa makes a powerful debut. His first album When the smoke rises is titled in honor of Smoke Dawg, a member of a gang of which Mustafa was also a part, who was murdered in 2018. The album mainly focuses on the death and grief that Mustafa suffered while living in the tough neighborhood of Regent’s Park.
Fun fact: the title of the album is a combination of the zodiac signs of Big Boi and André 3000 (Aquarius and Gemini). Following the success of their first two albums, the stars have continued to line up on the rap duo’s third studio album which was recorded primarily in Atlanta, GA by singer Bobby Brown. studio. A mix of sounds ranging from country and soul to gospel and psych rock Aquemini one of Outkasts most creative albums to date. Most of the album’s lyrical themes focus on the self-inflicted struggles and harsh environments the artists have lived in throughout their lives.
Blood orange – negro swan
In 2018, multi-instrumentalist, producer and songwriter Blood Orange released his fourth studio album negro swan. With traumatic stories of childhood, love and relationships, and darkness negro swan proved to be one of Blood Orange’s most vulnerable works. An album that focuses on themes of gender and sexuality and featuring trans icon Janet Mock has continued to be a prolific album about the black and queer experience.
Bob Marley and the Wailers – Uprising
The last album released before Bob Marley’s death was his most spiritual. Uprising, Bob Marley and The Wailers’ 12th LP was released in 1980 and featured the beloved singles “Could You Be Loved” and “Redemption Song”. Many tracks spoke to Marley’s soul and beliefs, his love of life and his hopes for the future.
Cat-Thunder – It’s like that
You can’t help but dance to this Grammy-winning album, even with the deprecating lyrics. Thundercat will have you laughing, crying and questioning life while slapping funky bass guitar riffs. Always inspired by the Black funk of the 60s and 70s, this album is a dedication to the great artists who inspired Thundercat.
Solange- A seat at the table
Singer and songwriter Solange has always had a rebellious spirit. For the past decade, she has created and released music on her own terms. One of the albums is from 2016 A seat at the table. A fitting title for an album that delves deep into the struggles of black women: the murders of innocent black lives, the unwanted stares and touches of black hair, the appropriation of black culture and more.
Kendrick Lamar – Pimp a butterfly
intense monitoring of good kid, maAd city comes rapper Kendrick Lamar’s album Pimp a butterfly. Lamar’s narration of gang violence, police brutality and drugs associated with nu-jazz producers Robert Glasper, Terrace Martin and (mentioned above) Thundercat. The chilling realities of the stories throughout the compilation are hard to hear at times, but a brutal account of black lives lived in a corrupt system.
Vince Staples – Vince Staples
California rapper Vince Staples has been known for his hard-hitting lyricism since his 2021 debut. vulnerable in his tales.
Nameless – Room 25
Rapper Noname’s debut independent album is an honest account of his first serious relationship and his move from Chicago to Los Angeles. She also talks about broken systems in America and the good feeling of the black community.