If you go through the various Hip-Hop Juneteenth-inspired playlists on Spotify, one has to wonder if people really know the meaning behind June 19th. Some of these playlists feature songs portraying every negative racial stereotype in existence about black people. Sitting atop one playlist was the remix to Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage”, as a stripper-turned-rapper brags about her bougie attitude. Another playlist featured Chicago rap artist Vic Mensa’s “16 Shots”, which is branded as a tribute to Laquan McDonald but is actually about killing police. Other “Juneteenth” songs include Vince Staples’ “Hands Up”, where he claims the police is trying to stop his blackness, Rae Sremmurd’s “Black Beatles” (I’m guessing because it has “black” in the title), the Drake and Future collabo “Jumpman”, giving in to the stereotype that blacks spend all of their money on sneakers, and (this is hilarious!) “Freak of the Week” by Krept & Konan.
The following list of songs is meant to inspire, educate, refocus, and uplift black people on Juneteenth. (The songs are in no particular order.)
“Grinding All My Life” by Nipsey Hussle
A tale of the hustler spirit. Those who don’t put in the work don’t shine.
“Crack Music” by Kanye West
A history lesson on the origins of the crack epidemic in the black community.
“WIN” by Jay Rock
“Win, Win, Win, Win, Win/Fuck everything else”. Enough said.
“Bounce Back” by Big Sean
You can’t win all the time. When you take an “L”, just dust yourself off and bounce back.
“Best Life” by Cardi B, Chance The Rapper
As ominous as circumstances get sometimes, be the best version of you all the time.
“Trapped” by Jeezy, Jill Scott
Examines the black community’s obsession with the hood and how we become entangled in systems of poverty and violence.
“Jesus Walks” by Kanye West
An anthem celebrating the Christian beliefs of many blacks.
“God Gave Me Style” by 50 Cent
Despite the issues we face, blacks live very blessed lives. Be thankful and gracious.
“Crooked Smile” by J. Cole
None of us will ever be a perfect masterpiece. Accept your flaws and learn to embrace them.
“Mo Money (Interlude)” by J. Cole
Examines the financial issues in the black community.
“No Romeo No Juliet” by 50 Cent, Chris Brown
A consistent theme in 50 Cent’s book Hustle Harder Hustle Smarter, wasting time on the pursuits of women and other fleeting entities is a poor choice of one’s time. Chase the money and success, the women will chase you.
“We Gon’ Make It” by Jadakiss, Styles P
If we stick together, nothing can keep us down.
“The Blacker The Berry” by Kendrick Lamar
A phrase inspired by Wallace Thurman’s novel The Blacker The Berry, it is a proud pro-black anthem. “Black and successful/This black man meant to be special”.
“If I Ruled The World (Imagine That)” by Nas, Lauryn Hill
What if black people ruled the world today?
“Brenda’s Got A Baby” by 2Pac
In order for blacks to achieve excellence, we cannot continue the cycle of not raising our youth.
“N.I.G.G.E.R. (The Slave and The Master)” by Nas
A history lesson of how blacks went from prestige and honor in previous centuries to poverty-ridden in current times.
“Emotionally Scarred” by Lil Baby
The Atlanta, Georgia native describes how his upbringing left wounds on his psyche and how he had to leave certain people behind to achieve success.
“Confess” by Logic, Killer Mike
The final two minutes of the track find Killer Mike asking God about the plights and hardships that the black communities face. Exceptional stuff.
“BLACK EFFECT” by The Carters
Jay-Z and Beyonce illustrate what black excellence and wealth are all about.
“Hustler’s Ambition” by 50 Cent
Another anthem for the go-getters
“Untitled 03” by Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick has a conversation with men of different races. Unfortunately, this is a tale of how black men are sometimes ruled by lust.
“Imagine” by Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, D’Angelo
Despite the many negative themes portrayed, Hip-Hop is one of the best things to ever happen to the black community. A world without it would be hard to imagine.
“I Can” by Nas
A message that children should hear more often.
“Family Feud” by Jay-Z
Many forces in our nation have divided the black community, and we cannot win when divided.
“Alright” by Kendrick Lamar
No matter what happens, if we work hard and believe, the black community will enjoy better days ahead.