As Black History Month draws to a close, it’s time to reflect on the fact that, this year, the event has seemed even more important than usual to many, given how turbulent 2020 has been for the black community. With the Black Lives Matter movement remerging into the mainstream media again after the multitude of injustices across the world, this October has been a friendly reminder that black is beautiful, talented, and much more than you’ve been told it is.
Using music as a tool to express this and following in the vein of infamous black power tunes such as Bashy’s ‘Black Boys’ (2009) and Dave’s ‘Black’ (2019), here are some new songs that reimagine and reiterate black stories, released to coincide with Black History Month 2020.
Enny, ‘Peng Black Girls’
South London’s newest spark Enny wanted to make a song that – in her words – was for girls like her whose “society and own culture will tell us, ‘You’re not beautiful because your skin is a certain shade, or your features don’t look a certain way’”. ‘Peng Black Girls’ is something for black women – a group often left out by the world – by a black woman, and over a soulful, boom-bap-style beat, this new conscientious take on rap is refreshing, regardless of the time of year.
Pa Salieu, ‘B***k’
We all love a bit of Pa Salieu. After a sudden jump onto the UK scene last winter with ‘Frontline’, this talent never fails to deliver something exhilarating for his fans. His unique, gruff delivery is an acquired one, but his unapologetic nature has led him to be one of the most ear-catching stars of today. And given that he’s a proud black man, it’s not a shock that this October, Salieu decided to give the world a glorifying song about his culture on the airy, futuristic ‘B***k’.
OFB (Abra Cadabra, Double Lz x Bandokay), ‘BLM’
North London’s biggest drill collective, OFB, have really been kicking up a storm this year thanks to member Headie One reaching all-new heights. The international viral hit ‘Only You Freestyle’, with Canada’s sweeterman Drake, pushed him and the rest of his group to the stratosphere, as many began to ask: ‘Who tf is OFB?’ Following Headie’s recent Number One album ‘Edna’, the youngsters of the group here come together to talk about something other than the score board and braggadocio talk. With black males in the UK having an inordinate amount of personal experience with the police, these three talk about their issues over a rambunctious drill track.
D Smoke, ‘Rapture’
The Inglewood, California teacher-turned-rapstar has always rhymes full of accurate depictions of his world around him. Although it’s not BHM in the US, the outspoken and hellbent 34-year-old has released a song based on a similar concept as Enny’s – uplifting black women. Yet he’s approached it in a different way. As Enny speaks from experience and showers us with compliments, D Smoke highlights the significance of black women through a male gaze, imagining a world without black women.
Che Lingo, ‘South’
Here Che Lingo tells the world about his story as a black man in south London, which is often deemed as crime central by outsiders and the media. He does talk about the violence he might have witnessed, but also about how his grandmother “spoiled me to death, distracted me from danger”. A diamond made out of the pressuring place Lingo was born into, ‘South’ is a story that needs to be told.
Stevie Wonder, ‘Can’t Put It In The Hands Of Fate’
The legend himself, Stevie Wonder, uses his soulful crooning skills to stand up against all adversity in the world. Coming up against a divisive Presidential election in the US, atop of all the negative stuff in the world today, Wonder has a very clear message for everyone: hope’s nothing without some action. His one of three releases this year – his first few in four years – this is proof that Stevie Wonder’s music is protest music. And it came at the right time.
Maren Morris, ‘Better Than We Found It’
Rap has long been associated with activism; country music perhaps less so. Hrere, though, Arlington, Texas’ little country star has used her platform to speak out about the injustices in the world with this pro-BLM track. In this powerful protest song, Morris shows that the movement isn’t just a black thing – it’s a people thing and everyone should be striving for a better world, regardless of our differences.
Justish, ‘Vent On’
A fresh face on the London scene, Justish has a few things to get off his chest in the newly released ‘Vent On’. Speaking more generally than others on this list, Justish has a few questions for the world on this track. Across a standard rap track on which he takes his time to tell a story, he highlights a few issues when it comes to the appreciation of black people: “I be listening to stories that be sounding hella fiction / I’m not saying that they’re lying – they just say it how they see it”.
RassTokyo, ‘Rubber Bands’
South London rapper RassTokyo hooks you with his boastful tone and slips in his thoughts on society and its notions about black people. For example, he says that, despite not growing up with much, he’s now getting money, which many think must be dirty: “Made a 100 and they froze all our accounts / We’re young and black so they don’t like that amount / They think it’s fishy because they take it as a bounce”.
Kida Kudz, ‘In My Country’
A freshly released track from one of Britain’s favourite afrobeats/afroswing star, ‘In My Country’ is a song for Kida Kudz’s hometown Nigeria. A soothing, emotional take on Black History Month, this song is a call out-against SARS, a supposedly ‘dissolved’ police force in Nigeria that has been abusing its power for years by killing, robbing, and assaulting citizens. Telling a cleaner, more wholesome story of his country than the bloody one we are currently hearing in the news, ‘In My Country’ is an important track to round off the month with.