Celebrate Black Music Month

Media: THETELEGRAPH

REASON 1: IT IS MORE THAN HIP-HOP

June marks one of my favorite times of the year, African-American Music Appreciation Month. Created by President Jimmy Carter in 1979 this month seeks to celebrate African-American contributions to American Culture. Originally called  Black Music Appreciation Month, President Barack Obama on May 30,2013 renamed the observance. He proclaimed:
"For centuries, African-American music has lifted the voices of those whose poetry is born from struggle. As generations of slaves toiled in the most brutal of conditions, they joined their voices in faithful chords that both captured the depths of their sorrow and wove visions of a brighter day. At a time when dance floors were divided, rhythm and blues and rock and roll helped bring us together. And as activists marched for their civil rights, they faced hatred with song. Theirs was a movement with a soundtrack -- spirituals that fed their souls and protest songs that sharpened their desire to right the great wrongs of their time.

The influence of African-American artists resounds each day through symphony halls, church sanctuaries, music studios, and vast areas. It fills us with inspiration and calls us to action. This month, as we honor the history of African-American music, let it continue to give us hope and carry us forward -- as one people and one Nation."

If this doesn't inspire you to celebrate (seriously, why wouldn't you), here is five more reasons why you should.

1. There's more to learn about African-American music other than Hip-Hop.

Don't get me wrong, I am a 90s Hip-Hop fanatic and proud of it!! I was blessed to be raised by a father and mother who taught me the meaning of REAL music. Before the inception of Hip-Hop when Parliament-Funkadelic reigned supreme all the way to the Slums of Shaolin. ‪However, for those who consistently associate African-Americans to this genre I highly advise you to look at other genres that African-Americans reigned before its existence. For example, Jazz, Folk, Reggae, Soul, Do-wop, Funk, Disco and Rock-N-Roll to name a few. You'd be surprised to know that many Hip-Hop records sample from these eras in black music.

2. I don't care how immerse you may be in "black" music, there's more to discover (I literally can't emphasize this enough).

That's right, you don't know all you claim to know and it doesn't hurt to discover! The beauty about history is it allows us to make connections to one's story. Everything that surrounds us is history. When it comes to black music as a proud African-American I continue to discover new sounds. This year I recently discovered the late Odetta Holmes, A Folk singer and civil rights activist who was an important figure in the revival of American Folk Music. Although, not a Folk fan,  her songs  helped me to discover the beginnings of socio-political black music.

3. Quality over Quantity

I know many individuals of my parents era who believe "the sound" of black music is dying. To be honest, there were many during the birth of Hip-Hop (no matter how good it may sound to me lol) who felt the same way then. Their arguments always tend to surround the idea that quality has disappeared. I have to agree. The men don't sing for the love of a woman the way the generations before then used to. The artistic individuality no longer is of A Tribe or Digital Planets. In fact, it's as if individuality doesn't exist at all. We can blame this generation, however, it's equally as important to blame the system that set them up to be this way.

By all means don't let lack of "quality" in today's music discourage you from finding gems. Soundcloud and Black and Sexy TV have become blessings to my musical needs.

4. The music can teach you things about Black History you've probably never paid attention to.

Anybody who knows me knows  Tupac is my number one artist of all time. He taught me about the War on Drugs, Police Brutality, and Mass Incarceration at the age of 9 through theses lyrics:

"Instead of War on Poverty, they got a War on Drugs so the police can bother me"

"The penitentiary's packed, and it's filled with blacks"

"Without a cop harassing me, searching me
Then asking my identity, hands up throw me against the wall"

It's strange when you start listening to music to understand what the lyrical meaning. At 9, I met THE CONSCIOUS.

5. In order to understand the movement of today, we must go back.

It's simple. If we don't understand where we came from, we won't know where we're going. Why do you think we haven't made it there yet?

Are you motivated to celebrate? To be honest, I celebrate 365 but in the month of June especially!! Go listen to something!

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