Playlist: Black Lives Matter Movement, Music that Identified the Revolution
By: Angela Shanice Littlefield
With the recent tragic murders of Ahmad Aubrey, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd has proven the unrest and systematic racism that still exists in America and all over the world today.
Movements and organizations have turned into full gear as everyone is forced to deal with the ugly truths of racism and police brutality against Black Americans.
But one thing that has been a beacon and symbol of hope during this movement is the music generated-protest, awareness, and solidarity.
Emotionally moved by the murder of George Floyd and the uprising of protests; I started to wonder as a journalist, and as a black woman what does all this mean?
How will this affect my life? And my family and future family lives? And how can I use my platform to bring about change, awareness, and overall being unapologetic of my blackness.
In June 2020, US music industry executives Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang launched #TheShowMustBePaused movement. Causing white majority-owned music industry to show solidarity to its black artists.
Major music label Republic Records even decided to remove the word “urban” in describing music genres that are mainly curated by Black artists.
The entire focus of #TheShowMustBePaused gave us one day of not having access to our favorite artists’ music. What would a world be like without no Summer Walker, Beyoncé, or even The Weekend? Hard to picture right? Well if anything people fail to realize these artists are all black.
Spotify even went as far as blacking out every black artist’s songs, ep’s, and albums off their playlist to show its solidarity with the black artists’ community during the #TheShowMustBePaused movement.
White-owned mainstream record labels, radio stations, and streaming platforms all capitalize from Black artists to their advantage and leave the artists begging for their simple worth.
According to the Advocacy article written in February by The Recording Academy, it stated that 77 percent of internet users have used YouTube to listen to music, making it the most popular music service online.
The Advocacy (The Recording Academy) article also notes that YouTube pays out creators at $0.00074 per stream, the least amount out of the major streaming services. Compared to other streaming platforms like Spotify pay over five times more than YouTube at $0.00397 per stream, while Apple Music pays over ten times more than the online streaming giant at $0.00783 per stream.
Proves to show that YouTube, a white-majority owned streaming platform is overly gaining all the wealth, and providing fewer contributions to the artists that want to create and share their craft.
With all the unrest in the world, other mainstream artists use this moment to express themselves during this uprising of Black pride.
Meek Mill’s ending verse on his protest track “Otherside of America,” gives a chilling description of the neighborhoods where he grew up. It wasn’t the white picket fence or green lawns, but a corrupt environment that is still known as America.
“I always dreamed of being like, on like CNN and being able to express myself
And, and speak for like the voiceless young men of America (do it)
The first step, I would say
I grew up in America, in a ruthless neighborhood where we were not protected by police, uh
We grew up in ruthless environments, we grew up around murder
You see murder, you see seven people die a week, I think you would probably carry a gun yourself
Uh, yeah, I probably would”
During the celebration of this year’s Juneteenth (June 19th), Beyonce released a single titled “Black Parade,” showcasing her east Texas roots and the history behind the Juneteenth parade route that is executed in many Texas cities to commensurate and celebrate the freedom of slaves.
Juneteenth recognizes when Texas slaves weren’t made aware of their freedom until June 19, 1865. A whole two years later after the original documentation of the Emancipation of Proclamation went to effect in January 1863, that completely abolished slavery in the United States.
Proceeds from Beyonce’s “Black Parade” will go to benefit organizations such as National Urban League which Beyonce’s BeyGood’s foundation is supporting small black-owned businesses. Not only will her contributions help these businesses, she even provided a digital directory via Instagram of the small black-owned businesses in the United States where fans can go to show their support.
Songs that became revolutionary in the early 1990s like “Fuck Da Police” by NWA has seen a surge increase by 272 per cent in streams since the death of George Floyd. As subscribers searched to find protest anthems, the NWA track for two days (May 31-June 1) had over 765,000 streams.
These songs were ahead of their time, but still reflected the artists’ reality, as they hoped for a better America for the Black community.
After the recent death of George Floyd, there weren’t many curated BLM Playlists on Apple Music or YouTube, and especially one curated by a Black woman from the south like myself.
I started to play in the head all the songs I grew up listening to, and eventually birthed my playlist called BLM Playlist on Apple Music.
Music has always been an important notion of relating to the times. Back in the late 60s and early 70s soul R&B artists like Marvin Gaye came out with the classic hit “What’s Going On” and James Brown produced the anthem that is still highly relevant today “I’m Black and I’m Proud.”
These songs were more than just chart climbers but they signified a time where Black pride and self-awareness of what was happening in the world needed to be recognized and no longer ignored.
The same notion of protests, boycotts, and the demand for justice Black Americans are fighting for today.
As a black woman and journalist, I needed to showcase my power, my voice, and use my platform to educate, act, and reflect the power of being a creative black woman.
Being allowed to express these unique voices, and to not be afraid to take up space.