1. Donnie – The Colored Section (2002)
Ahead of its time in many ways, Donnie’s debut album, The Colored Section (2002), contains lyrics that are still very relevant to Black America today:
See what it is to be blackmailed
See a real live conspiracy
Sign your name on the black list and know this
It’s American history…
2. Nina Simone – Black Gold (1970)
Who could ever forget Nina Simone’s empowering anthem, “To Be Young, Gifted and Black?” While most artists at that time focused on disco and funk, Miss Simone used her platform to inspire black youth to #StayWoke:
When you feel really low
Yeah, there’s a great truth you should know
When you’re young, gifted and black
Your soul’s intact
3. Common – Be (2005)
To simply call Common a rapper would be an understatement. Instead, he is one of hip-hop’s most conscious messengers. His 6th album, Be, features the track, “U, Black Maybe,” that paints a vivid picture of what it feels like to be Black in America:
You get judged, you get laughed at, you get looked at wrong
You get sighted for not being strong
The struggle of just being you
The struggle of just being us, black maybe
4. Stevie Wonder – Songs in The Key of Life (1976)
Stevie Wonder gave us 21 tracks of dripping gold on his classic album, Songs in The Key of Life. But with its funky beat and signature Stevie vocals, “Black Man” in particular will inspire you to invite some friends over to cut a two-step:
We pledge allegiance
All our lives
To the magic colors
Red, blue and white
But we all must be given
The liberty that we defend
For with justice not for all men
History will repeat again
It’s time we learned
This World Was Made For All Men
5. Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On (1971)
If ever there was a song to solidify the #BlackLivesMatter movement, it would have to be the late Marvin Gaye’s, “What’s Going On.” Although it was released close to 50 years ago, in the midst of those slain, such as Trayvon Martin, Alton Sterling, and Michael Brown, Black America still, far too often, has to stop and ask, “What is going on?”
There’s too many of you crying
Brother, brother, brother
There’s far too many of you dying
You know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some lovin’ here today – Ya
We don’t need to escalate
You see, war is not the answer
For only love can conquer hate
You know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some lovin’ here today
6. Robert Glasper – Black Radio 1 & 2 (2012, 2013)
Robert Glasper’s 2012 album, Black Radio, was so good he gave us an encore just 1 year later entitled, Black Radio 2. With the help of rapper, Common, and college professor, Michael Eric Dyson, Glasper encourages us to “Stand Alone” if we have to in order to celebrate our unique individuality as black people.
Thank God we’ve still got musicians and thinkers whose obsession with excellence and whose hunger for greatness remind us that we should all be unsatisfied with mimicking the popular, rather than mining the fertile veins of creativity that God placed deep inside each of us (Michael Eric Dyson, 2013).
7. Bob Marley & The Wailers – Survival (1979)
There is no denying that no matter where you are or what you are doing, when you hear a Bob Marley song begin to play you can’t help but to feel #GoodVibesOnly. The song “Survival” reminds us that although we’ve been dealt a many of blows, we cannot and will not be destroyed.
Na-na-na-na-na, na-na, na!
We’re the survivors, yes: the Black survivors!
Tell you what: we’re the survivors, yeah! – the Black survivors, yeah!
We’re the survivors, like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego
Thrown in the fire, but-a never get burn.
These are 7 albums for us, by us. Happy listening…