I'm Black, Ya'll!
Black History Month is here! Now would be a good time to press "pause" on the Waka Flocka mixtape and inject a little consciousness into your playlist. There have been millions of songs made about the African-American experience, so where to start? The obvious place would be with the revolutionary rhetoric of pro-black artists like Public Enemy or dead prez. And even today, James Brown's 1968 classic "Say It Loud (I'm Black And I'm Proud)" is often remembered as the definitive anthem about black pride. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. We dug in the crates for some less-obvious celebrations of blackness and came out with a diverse set of bangers. Check out our 5 favorite slept-on Black Power Anthems below...
Big Daddy Kane "Word To The Mother (Land)"
• In the years before Afrocentric style became a cliché, the Asiatic One dropped some serious jewels about black history and knowledge of self on the kids. His debut Long Live The Kane ended with this memorable joint that features clips of Farrakhan speeches as the album fades out.
The Temptations "Message From A Black Man"
• Motown's marquee act was originally known for tame love songs like "My Girl," but by the end of the '60s, they had started experimenting with psychedelic sounds and tackling more socially-aware topics. "Yes, my skin is black, but that's no reason to hold me back," they sang on the 1969 album Puzzle People. "Message" became a popular radio request that reflected the civil rights struggle of the time, but the Temptations still felt the lyrics were too "forward" to perform live. No one can stop them now!
Roosevelt Franklin "The Skin I'm In"
• In the early '70s, Sesame Street tried to keep it progressive with their token black muppet, Roosevelt Franklin, who was voiced by the original Gordon. His sole 1971 album featured a lot of conventional kiddie fare, but it also includes this striking black pride anthem.
Gregory Isaacs "Black Liberation Struggle"
• In the '70s, damn near every reggae song was a black power anthem; the roots sound was defined by a pan-African sensibility that still echoes decades later in Sizzla and Capleton's rhetoric. That being said, even ladies' men like Gregory Isaacs got in on the act.
Mos Def "Rock N Roll"
• Everyone knows that black people invented rock n roll (and let's face it, pretty much every popular musical genre in the last 100 years), but never was the case made more convincingly than on this track from the Black Star member's 1999 debut Black On Both Sides. Stay tuned for the punk breakdown at the end!
BONUS: Dead Mike "I'm Black Ya'll" (from CB4)
• In a brilliant parody of the Afrocentric rap of the day, CB4's former gangsta rapper Dead Mike (played by Allen Payne) goes conscious. Bliggity-bliggity-blacker than black!