What is Blackness? Is it the way you drink your Kool-Aid? Does it require you to drink Kool-Aid? Nobody knows.
Now despite not knowing what it really means to be Black, if you are Black there are certain things that you should just damn know. And being as we’re in the business of education here at VSB.com, and Black, we may as well hit you all of from time to time with things that you should know if you’re, well, Black. You can call it a periodic checklist check-in. We’ll just call you Bob.
10. Donny Hathaway – This Christmas
Something about Donny’s version of this song just gets into your soul and makes you happy about Christmas – even if you can’t afford to buy any gifts and your mother has to be the actual Christmas tree. This song has lasted since the 1970s as the national black indicator of the Holiday season. No matter what age or what radio station, ghetto or the suburbs, This Christmas is a mainstay of Black America (and white America too – I heard this in Macy’s a couple of times, though I do live in D.C.)
9. Prince – Purple Rain
When this movie came out in 1984 (holy Batcakes, 1984) there was no denying the impact of this movie and this soundtrack, possibly Prince’s crowning achievement. Whether gangsta or gentlemen, explicit or androgynous, everybody and their mother knew the words to Purple Rain and would sing it loudly…and continues to do so ’til this day. Plus, it proved that a straight Black man could wear a onesie, which if you think about it, did SO much for the Black community.
8. Micheal Jackson – Thriller
It was the biggest song off of one of the biggest albums EVER. I’ve come to realize that folks are generally either Prince or Michael fans. Not that people don’t like both, but folks usually favor one or the other. And if you were a Mike fan, you got the jacket, the glove and learned all the dance moves. Black kids across America were pretending to be a zombied Michael Jackson for Halloween, not realizing that Michael Jackson apparently thinks Halloween is everyday of the year and pretends to be a zombie himself.
7. Marcia Griffiths – Electric Boogie
You want to know the Black folks with no rhythm? Put the Electric slide song on at a party and watch the folks that can’t do it. Guaranteed to be broken out at nearly every Black function within a 12-planet radius, no Black life is complete without knowledge of the song, or at least the dance and knowing when to break it out - basically whenever you damn well feel like it as nobody will ever reject an opportunity to do The Electric Slide. It’s in our DNA.
6. Al Green – Love & Happiness
The kind of song you can throw on at any barbecue or Black occasion and the older of the audience will most certainly start singing, off-key as they wanna be, but because it’s Reverand Al, it’s okay. Plus, he automatically makes everybody think of grits. And what’s more Black than grits?
5. Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On?
Poignant, deep, and speaking to the struggle during the Vietnam War of both Blacks and other minorities. Black folks love social commentary in music and nobody did it better than Marvin with this song and ultimately this album. Plus his daddy capped him, which is nothing short of ignant ninja sh*t. Plus, if you ain’t familiar with this song, then you probably don’t know Marvin well which means you probably don’t know any other Black people. Meet some.
4. Sam Cooke – A Change Is Gonna Come
All Black people should know this song because all Black people should have seen Malcolm X. Or should see it. Seeing Malcolm X should be a requirement of Blackness. I’m gonna see if I can get that Congressionally mandated. And like Marvin, this song is also some activist Black struggle music and a response to Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ In The Wind”. And ALSO like Marvin, he got caught out there with some shady woman who ended up killing him behind some non-sense, which is ALSO some ignant ninja sh*t.
3. Maze FEATURING Frankie Beverly - Before I Let Go
Is it me or was Maze featuring Frankie Beverly for a very long time. They just never let him join up, huh? This song is akin to the Black National Anthem guaranteed to be played at every Black function where food is present. In fact, if you’re Black and you don’t know this song, you should seek help. And therapy. And Maze featuring Frankie Beverly.
2. James Weldon Johnson/John Rosamond Johnson – Lift Every Voice And Sing
The ACTUAL Negro National Anthem. I mean, just cuz. And that means ALL THE VERSES PEOPLE. Not just the first verse.
1. Stevie Wonder – Happy Birthday
Stevie’s tribute to Dr. Martin Luther Tha Kang, Jr is quite possibly the most famous song in Black history, mostly cuz its sung at every Black birthday function, and if you listen closely, can be heard being sung on nearly a daily basis by Black people in major metropolitan cities. Because it’s always somebody’s birthday. Hoo-rah.
So, did I miss anything?