Nothing gives us more energy or joie de vivre than great music, particularly music from the Black diaspora.
I’ve put together a playlist of some of my favourite Black artists that exist mostly outside the mainstream sonic landscapes that we’ve grown accustomed to in North America.
Of course, this playlist is highly personal, so it also includes a generous sprinkling of Prince, my favourite artist of all time.
Importantly, below are some poignant observations from an excerpt of Prince's final memoir, The Beautiful Ones, which serve as an eye-opening reminder to stay conscious not just of the origins of music, but how broadcasters and distributors present music to us. More often than not, these organizations and their structures and staff demonstrate systemic racism. Let's resist the urge to conform to these unnecessary boundaries.
I hope you enjoy these sounds!
All artists should own their masters, [Prince] said, especially [B]lack artists. He saw it as a way to fight racism. Black communities would restore wealth by amassing their master recordings. And they would protect that wealth, hiring their own police, founding their own schools, and forming bonds on their own terms.
The music industry had siloed black music from the start, he reminded me. They'd promote black artists for the "black base," and then, if they captured that base, they would try to "cross over." Billboard had developed totally unnecessary charts to measure and quantify this division, and it continued to this day, even if the "black charts" now masqueraded under euphemisms like "R&B/Hip-Hop."
"Why didn't Warner Bros. ever think I could be president of the label?" It never occurred to them that he could run his own operation. "I want to say in a meeting with big record executives, 'Okay, you're racist.'"
- Prince (2019), The Beautiful Ones. Spiegel & Grau.
Our Summer 2020 Playlist
A groovy playlist of bops, bangers, B-sides and beats from the Black diaspora. We recommend listening on shuffle. Enjoy! (Note: some songs may contain coarse language.)