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Music Picks For Black History Month 2020

October 31, 2020

As Black History Month draws to a close, we decided to curate a micro playlist of contemporary U.K. artists to celebrate #bhm2020.

We wanted to highlight some of the U.K’s black musicians who have openly touched upon topics relating to the black experience in the UK via their music. The urban music scene is having a fantastic run, there has never been a time where urban music has dominated the UK music chart. And we want to say to all the musicians who have the scene popping right now, We see you, and we salute you. Stand up UK!!

In no order of preference we have chosen:

1. Dave – Black

Dave – Black

This is a powerful song. Which is probably why Dave chose to perform this song at the 2019 Brit awards Opening the track with the lines “Look, black is beautiful, black is excellent / Black is pain, black is joy, black is evident.” lightly describing the intricacies of the black experience. Dave, describing his ‘black experience’, which a lot of black people from an inner-city can relate to, has created a brilliant piece of work that has so many layered compartments.

2. Kojey Radical ft. Mahalia – Water (If Only They Knew)

Kojey Radical

This video version of the song ‘Water’ opens with verse 2 from his song ‘Superhuman’ (performed by Michaela Coel), which points out a system that isn’t built to accommodate Black people, while black people become victims of cultural appropriation and exploitation. Being the artistic visionary that he is, Kojey Radical has created a piece of art that expressed the excellence, strength and love of black people, all the while projecting the struggles faced as part of the black experience.

3. Stormzy – Superheroes

Stomzy – Superheroes

Stormzy’s Superheroes is such an uplifting, positive breath of fresh air, a celebration of blackness. Superheroes is a track that every black kid should hear. Giving hope and inspiration to the youth who grow up in the inner city. The visuals 🤗 created this whole world for the song. It is not often you see a Black cartoon with a superhero. In true Stormzy fashion, he’s is unapologetically black speaking on subjects that affect the black community.

Ghetts ft. Skepta – IC3

Ghetts ft. Skepta

Ghetts and Skepta team up on this absolute smasher IC3. Reclaiming the Police code for Black people, go back to back with some hard-hitting lyrics on the track “Don’t tell me go back where I came from / When the Queen sits there in stolen jewels / Cool. I go back with a chain on / I light up the place like Akon”.  Highlighting the hypocrisy in British society. The track is a bit of a rags to riches story, celebrating being successful and black, but not forgetting where they have come from. “Who would’ve thought back then / we’d be some powerful black men? / Back when we was in estates I was trapped in, trappin’ / You don’t know how it’s impacted us / Can’t block a nigga when flats with us / Abandoned flats where the mandem trap”.

Ghetts ft. Kojey Radical – Blackrose

Ghetts Black Rose

This is such a beautiful track. A perfect depiction of the realities of colourism, fatherhood and diaspora blues. This was a much-needed reassurance towards black women from black men.  “Daddy, how come there’s no dolls that look like me in the shop?” is the opening question from his daughter, which is a question that many black girls asked when they become cognisant that they are different, which is just one of the many things that chip away at the self-worth of a black girl as she grows into society. Ghetts contributes to the conversation of colourism that is an ever-present reality within the black community, in conjunction with all the other issues that black people face on a daily.

Kano – Teardrops

Teardorps taken from Kano’s 2019 summer hit album ‘Hoodies All Summer’. The premise of the video (GRM Rated Awards performance) itself is the police brutality and deaths at the hands of the police (which actualy does exist in the UK but to the extent as it is in America). This is a dedication to those who have lost their lives to police brutality in the UK. A statistic towards the end of the video reveals that more than 100 Black people have died during or following police contact in the UK since 1990.

Bashy – Black Boy

Bashy – Black Boys

This is a classic tune. Filled with inspiration for young black men. I think this song will always be a reminder for young black boys to remember that they are great and could be anything that they want to be despite the challenges that they may face in society because of the colour of their skin. Having role models to look up to is of such importance for the development of young boys. And thats what make this song so powerful.

Black history month is not just for black people. It is for all people to educate themselves on the contributions that black men and women have made to society. And the many untold stories, institutionalised racism that occurs on a day-to-day basis, and the barriers to progress, that black people face year in year out.

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