Blackness is a diverse and vast topic but music has been a great place highlighting this.
I’m sure many of you will have seen a lot of commentary on the topic of Blackness on social media over the past few days, most of it negative. Rather than leaning into the negativity, I think it provides a chance to look at what unites Black people. Whether it’s celebrations of Blackness or times the discussions surrounding it have been tackled in a great way, sometimes music does a great job of opening a more balanced discussion. The conversations aren’t always easy to have at the best of times so to be able to do it across music is a very special thing.
Ghetts ft. Kojey Radical – Black Rose
Ghetts has been a figure that has popped up on socials amidst the current discussion for his words on Channel 4 on the subject. ‘Black Rose’ speaks directly to the issue at hand of the struggles of growing up as a Black woman. It doesn’t make the song all about asking for sympathy, instead the message is one of empowerment and guidance as to how we can improve things for Black women. It is an important song in it’s message because it does really open the discussion up in a nuanced but accessible way without completely oversimplifying things. On top of that it’s just a great song worth a listen on that merit alone.
Bashy – Black Boys
I feel like we forget about Bashy sometimes because he has gone abroad and had so much success in acting that music has become the second thing we know him for. But he was one of the earliest artists from the UK scene to provide an anthem that really just celebrates Blackness. Whilst aimed towards young Black men, there is still a message of support towards Black women. It also works as an almost educational tool to Black men on how not to perpetuate stereotypes, as well as respect Black women’s struggles.
Dave – Black
It’s funny that pretty much 10 years on from ‘Black Boys’ coming out Dave released ‘Black’ and there was genuine public outrage around it. We have all heard the song by now and we know it is an eloquent exploration of Black experience. What it does that is important to the Blackness conversation is that it adds that the Black experience isn’t homogenous and all versions are valid. On top of that, it celebrates the differences but makes a point to note that they should never be used to compete amongst each other as there is room for everyone.
Beyoncé ft. Blue Ivy Carter, WizKid, SAINt JHN – Brown Skin Girl
I had to include this, I don’t need the BeyHive at my neck for neglecting to give their Queen a mention. Jokes aside ‘Brown Skin Girl’ is similar in vein to ‘Black Rose’ in that it directly relates to the Blackness narrative that’s had social media in a storm. Whilst primarily an ode to her daughter, Blue Ivy, Beyoncé also uses the track to celebrate other Black women of all shades. It is a song by a Black woman for other Black women that’s delivered in a heartfelt manner. It’s also a point to raise here that some issues surrounding Blackness are universal regardless of where in the world we are.
Joyner Lucas – I’m Not Racist
For the last choice I’m sticking to America where the Black experience is very unique, but the issue at hand in ‘I’m Not Racist’ is a sentiment that transcends the US. It is a song that deals with Blackness on the whole and directly confronts the stereotypes that have been pinned to Black people. It is in your face and can be jarring on your first time watching but it does a great job of showing the conversation of Blackness between other races. Joyner Lucas is Black, but in the visuals he plays on the content of the track by pitting a White actor against a Black actor and this helps make the message even more potent.