Black Music Month Challenge

June is Black Music Appreciation Month, and every year I try to find a new challenge to participate in to celebrate. I did a challenge back in 2019, but this one takes the cake.

Enter Naima, who put together an amazing list of prompts that were so fun (and a little tough) to work through. Her original post can be found here.

Sure, June is almost over, but it can still be fun to participate!

(A small note about the album cover sources: many of the labels these songs were originally released on have since ceased to exist or were absorbed into larger parent companies. I did the best I could in my fact checking, but I’m no music industry expert.)

Day 1- When you hear this song, you get a strong urge to clean the house

Source: Universal Music Group

Holding On (When Love Is Gone)- L.T.D.

Day 2- A song you insist people younger than you don’t know nothin’ about

Source: Virgin Records

Loves Been So Nice-After 7

Heads up: you’re going to see quite a bit of the Edmonds family in the proceeding songs, specifically Kenneth (aka Babyface.)

Fun fact: Babyface was one the producers on After 7’s self-titled album, he wrote this song, and two of the three members were his older brothers!

Day 3- A song by your favorite songwriter and/or producer

Source: Flyte Tyme, BMG

He Don’t Know Nothin’ Bout It- Jam & Lewis and Babyface (coincidentally two of my favorite songwriters and producers. You’re going to see a lot of Jam & Lewis here as well.)

Day 4- You knew the sample first, but now love the original song more

Source: Now-Again Records

I Love You- East of Underground. This song was sampled in a lot by 21 Savage.

Fun fact about this group: they were a multi-racial group who were stationed in Germany during the Vietnam War and selected through a U.S. Army band contest.

Day 5- A song that immediately eases your mind/mood

Source: MCA

Do You Love What You Feel- Rufus & Chaka Khan

Day 6- Your favorite live version of a song

Source: Polygram Records

U Will Know- B.M.U. (Black Men United)

In what is probably the strongest tenor section I’ve ever heard in my life, this beautiful anthem written by D’Angelo was featured in Jason’s Lyric and performed at the AMAs in 1995.

Day 7- An album cut that should have been a single

Source: RCA Records

Kryponite- Mario

From his third album Go, “Kryptonite” is one of those songs that would have been right at home on the radio. Honorable mention goes to other B-side songs such as “Why” and “No Definition”.

Interestingly, fans were able to choose between the former two and “Crying Out For Me” for the second single after “How Do I Breathe.” Clearly his fans were mostly comprised of hopeless romantics.

The third single on the album was “Music For Love.”

Day 8- A favorite R&B interlude

Source: Cash Money Records
Source: Mass Appeal Entertainment

Summers Over Interlude- Drake

Honorable mention: Interlude- Don’t Go- Raheem DeVaughn

Day 9- A favorite rap skit

Source: Jive Records

Girls Ain’t Nothing but Trouble- DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince

I really struggled with this one. Technically, this isn’t a rap skit, but it’s a rap song that tells a funny story, which is sort of like a skit, right?

Fun fact: the song was only released on vinyl.

Day 10- A song that wasn’t about what you thought it was about

Source: Verve Records

Best Friend- Ledisi

Day 11- A song with an incredible opening verse (any genre)

Source: Virgin Records

Nothing But Love- The Dells featuring Billy Valentine

I’ll be honest, I don’t know if there’s any song I know that has an outstanding opening verse lyrically. However, this movie holds a special place in my heart, and “Nothing But Love” is the song The Five Heartbeats open with, so it gets this spot.

Day 12- A remix that completely changed the song

Source: Wondaland/Bad Boy

Primetime (Chloe Martini Remix)- Janelle Monae (feat. Miguel)

Day 13- You know better, but this is still a problematic fave

Source: Jive Records

Step in the Name of Love- Remix- do I really have to say who it’s by?

Day 14- A song everybody loves, but you hate

Source: Columbia Records

All I Want For Christmas Is You- Mariah Carey

I’m sorry, but this song gets overplayed way too much for me to ever seriously enjoy it again.

Day 15- If you get challenged to a dance battle, you’re gonna play this song

Source: Columbia Records

Here Comes The Hotstepper- Ini Kamoze

Day 16- Celebrate a song by a great Black-owned record label

Source: Hidden Beach Records

Golden- Jill Scott

I had to do quite a bit of digging on this one. I wanted to find a song by a Black-owned label that was 1) still active, and 2) not one that we already know (no shade to you, Motown, Def Jam, Cash Money, and the like.)

Jill Scott was the first artist signed to Hidden Beach Recordings, founded by Steven McKeever in 1998. While Scott is signed with a different label now, they still work with a modest collection of artists, including Al B. Sure! (as of 2009) and Kindred (whose song is featured below.)

Day 17- The sexiest song you know

I couldn’t just choose one.

Source: Atlantic Records
Source: Hidden Beach Records
Source: Mass Appeal Entertainment
Source: Motown Records

Hate The Club- Kehlani, Masego

Stars- Kindred the Family Soul

Maker of Love- Raheem DeVaughn

Tonight- Kem ft. Maurissa Rose

Day 18- The blackest song you know

Source: Ruthless/Epic

Foe tha Love of $- Bone Thugs-N-Harmony

Day 19- When the revolution comes, this will be your anthem

Source: Motown

Ball Of Confusion (That’s What The World Is Today)- The Temptations

Day 20- If this song ain’t on your cookout list, it ain’t a cookout

Source: Columbia Records

Encore- Cheryl Lynn (produced by Jam & Lewis)

Day 21- A song you’re embarrassed to admit you rock with

Source: Bad Boy Records

Nothing Bout Me- B5

There’s not one song I rock with that I will ever be embarrassed by. With that being said, some may find it weird that I rock with a teen boy band’s songs just as hard today as I did when they first dropped.

And will sing every word of every song with my. whole. chest.

Day 22- You can still remember the first time you heard this song

Source: Fly.Union Records

Great- Fly Union

The year was 2011. I was entering my underground hip-hop era and heard this song on Pac Div radio on Pandora. The rest is history.

Day 23- You give a whole car/shower/mirror performance to this song

Source: MCA

You’re Not My Kind Of Girl- New Edition (produced by Jam & Lewis)

Day 24- A song that immediately puts you in a glass case of emotion

Source: GOOD Music

Ultralight Beam- Kanye West

Day 25- You’ll die on the hill of this cover being better than the original

Source: Epic Records

This Is For The Lover In You- Babyface, LL Cool J, Howard Hewett, Jody Watley, Jeffrey Daniel

Okay, so I’m not saying this version is better than Shalamar’s per se, but it’s such a great blend of part cover/part remix that also includes the original vocalists. What more could you ask for?

Day 26- A favorite song by a Black artist from outside of the U.S.

Source: EMI Records

Round and Around- Jaki Graham (England)

Day 27- A favorite song with a whole monologue

Source: Atlantic Records

Jam- Kevin Gates, Trey Songz, Ty Dolla $ign, Jamie Foxx

The “monologue” in question at the beginning of the song comes from the 2002 Jamie Foxx comedy special Unleashed (part starts at 6:10.)

Day 28- A song you didn’t appreciate until you lived a little

Source: Arista Records

Work It Out- Babyface

Honestly, any song on this album. It screams grown and sexy.

Day 29- A song that reminds you of family

Source: Columbia Records

That’s The Way of The World- Earth, Wind, & Fire

This song instantly takes me back to being five years old dancing in the yard with my grandpa while he washed his ‘66 Chevy Impala. It’s easily one of my favorite childhood memories.

Day 30- This song might be the most played in your music library

Source: Atlantic Records

Games- Chuckii Booker

I know it is. Spotify told me so.

This was so much fun! There were so many other songs I could have picked for each day (I tried my hardest to get some Rene & Angela, Alexander O’Neal, and Miles Jaye in here but this article is long enough as is.)

My own personal challenge next year will be to select completely different songs, which should be easy since I have a whole year to choose.

Because you were so diligent to read (or skim) through this long post, allow me to present you with a gift: a nice and pretty Spotify playlist with all of my picks. You’re welcome.

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