It’s going to be February this week and it’s that special time of the year when we celebrate the resilience, the spirit and contributions of people who are of African descent. Since this is a music focused newsletter, it only makes sense that we talk about artists who made an impact through their music and other related topics. This entire month will focus on highlighting what Black people have brought to the music game across many genres.
I personally like music that has a fighting spirit. A fighting spirit for what is right and fair. Some say that pain, heartbreak, struggle, loss and intense feelings have been what has allowed for some of the greatest songs ever made to reach global status. Let’s take a look at some of the songs that have tapped into that part of human consciousness that evoked the need and want for something to change in our society and the treatment of Black people in the diaspora.
Joe Arroyo- La Rebelion (1986)- Joe was a Colombian artist who was always proud of his African roots. In this particular song, he told a story about an African married couple who were unfortunately taken from their home by the Spaniards during the times of slavery in the 17th century. The husband saw that the slave owner hit his wife and that’s when he decided it was time to do something about it. He told the slave owner “No le pegue a la negra!,” which translates to “Don’t hit the Black woman.” The husband took revenge for his wife and Black women in general. This song is so impactful that the song is still played in clubs, parties, cookouts and everywhere Latin music is played. Joe Arroyo made such an impact that there are many murals in Colombia with his image and even a statue in Barranquilla, Colombia. Listen to it here.
Myke Towers- Michael X (2020)- Myke Towers is currently one of the hottest Reggaeton artists out of Puerto Rico. His lyrical game has placed him alongside some of the greatest to ever grace the microphone. He has the ability to make party songs but also deliver songs with thought-provoking messages. In Michael X, he makes references to Malcom X and Martin Luther King. He talks about the effects of police brutality, the importance of giving former criminals a way to find employment so that they don’t end up back in prison, reference to George Floyd and an overall call for all people to unite to fight for what is right. Listen to it here.
A few other songs that deserve your attention are:
Billie Holiday- Strange Fruit (1939) Originally written by Abel Meerpool after seeing an image of the lynching of 2 Black men in the 1930s. Holiday was inspired after reading the lyrics due to her experience with her father dying in the hospital because they refused to treat him simply for being a Black man. Listen to it here.
Sam Cooke- A Change Is Gonna Come (1964) When Sam’s crew got turned away from a “whites-only” motel, it inspired the lyrics for this track. “It’s been a long time coming, but I know a change is gonna come.” Listen to it here.
Michael Jackson- Man In The Mirror (1984) Clips of MLK, Nelson Mandela, Kent State shootings, the KKK and many others were shown in the visuals of this song. The main message of the song is that we need to look inwards so that way things can begin to change in the world. Listen to it here.
Tupac- White Manz World (1996) He wrote it in prison and was released on his album Makaveli Tha Don: Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory. In order to be a Black man in America, you have to hide who you truly are in order to satisfy the white man. It was written for his mother and sister. Listen to it here.
There are so many songs out there about liberating Africans from slavery, social injustice, racism etc, because it’s such an important topic due to the fact that we still see the symptoms of discrimination in all walks of life. I hope that you have found some value in the songs that I’ve shared in this article. I recommend you use Google translate to read the lyrics of the Spanish songs to truly understand what the message is. Black History isn’t only to be acknowledged during February. We are to stand together, 365 days of the year to make sure that the world changes and that our oppressors feel they have to chill out because we have learned that united, we can truly demand respect, dignity and fairness in all we do and aspire to become.
You can find all of these songs in this week’s Woke Up A Rebel Playlist on Spotify. Follow it here.
Next week, we’ll discuss if we can truly be for a change when we support music about degrading and murdering each other.
Don’t forget to check out the Artist Spotlight section of the Newsletter to find out what our picks were that stood out from the Woke Up A Rebel Playlist. Have a blessed week!
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