Music Round-Up: Janelle Monae, Kendrick Lamar & More.

Cover Photo:
Janelle Monáe’s Dirty Computer Visuals.

In light of everything going on in the world, we want to make sure that at Echowave, we are not being silent and that we are doing everything we can to amplify the voices of BIPOC artists and activists. From Janelle Monae to Sam Cooke, Black voices have created some of the most impactful music of our time and today we’re going to highlight that.

At the end of this week’s round-up, I will also be including resources for anyone who wants to be of support to this movement; causes to donate to, information to help educate yourself and others, and creative work to immerse yourself in.

Let’s all lift the voices that matter up and ensure that we are doing our part during this revolution. That said, let’s get into this week’s round-up.

 Kendrick Lamar — m.A.A.d. City
good kid, m.A.A.d city (Deluxe) by Kendrick Lamar on Spotify

This is one of my favorite songs of the 2010s. Nothing can quite compare to the way Kendrick methodically weaves his way through the verses in this song.

‘m.A.A.d. City’ is an honest recollection of the way Lamar experienced the world as a teen and young adult. An experience he wouldn’t have necessarily had, had it not been for his Blackness. Kendrick has very much taken on the role of being the voice of a generation of Black youth who have been systematically oppressed their entire lives all while being gaslit by White America telling them that they are equal. This song is a great representation of the stifling reality that he and many others have experienced. 

Janelle Monáe — Django Jane
Django Jane, a song by Janelle Monáe on Spotify

‘Django Jane’ is, at its core, a song about Black girl magic. It is a source of empowerment and a musical fight for queer Black women and an underrated banger from her 2018 album, Dirty Computer. Monae said that she wanted the song to be, “an anthem, whenever they got down, whenever they got weary.” It is meant to be a point of strength in a world where Black women are routinely written off, discriminated against, and oppressed.

It’s an intersectional feminist pride song, celebrating Blackness and I can’t get enough of it. 

Killer Mike — Don’t Die
Don't Die, a song by Killer Mike on Spotify

Killer Mike has been very outspoken throughout the past few weeks and has become a powerful voice for the Black community, especially in Atlanta, where he is from. He is as much an activist as he is an artist, and this song perfectly blends both of those things. Though it is not specified, this song was a response to the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. It harnesses the anger and fear of Police for POC in America. Even the title, simply, ‘Don’t Die’, is a reference to the way Black people have to live. Every day, they are just trying not to die. Let us not forget that on top of all of this Killer Mike absolutely shreds and the song is just straight-up good. 

Billie Holiday — Strange Fruit
Strange Fruit, a song by Billie Holiday on Spotify

This is a song about lynchings in the south of the United States during the Jim Crow era. It has been performed by a number of artists over the years, but the Billie Holiday version is my personal favorite. Her performance is haunting.

Originally, ‘Strange Fruit’ was a protest song, so given the times, it feels particularly applicable again. Billie Holiday was threatened for her performance of the song, but did it anyway. Check out Nina Simone’s version of ‘Strange Fruit’, as well as Kanye West’s ‘Blood On The Leaves’, which sample’s the Nina Simone cover. 

Sam Cooke — A Change is Gonna Come
A Change Is Gonna Come, a song by Sam Cooke on Spotify

This song, despite its age, has not lost its relevance or power, and Sam Cooke’s voice is timeless. Originally, this song was written in association with the African-American Civil Rights movement and more recently has been in direct correspondence with the Black Lives Matter movement. It provides a message of hope for BIPOC in a time when it feels like there is none.

It is a song of empowerment and unity in divisive times. This song will never get old and it will never stop being important. 

That is all for the music round-up, but I want to provide some organizations you can donate to, actions to take, organizations to follow, and books to read.

Organizations to Donate to: 

(Press on the title to open the link)

  1. George Floyd Memorial Fund
  2. Black Lives Matter
  3. Black Visions Collective
  4. Justice For Breonna
  5. Reclaim The Block 

Actions to Take:

  1. Register to Vote
  2. Screenshot, Share, and Repost Resources
  3. Don’t Center the Narrative Around Yourself
  4. Stop Supporting Organizations/Corporations That Promote Hate
  5. Be an Ally and Continue to Advocate after the Outrage Ends

Organizations to Follow: 

(Press on the title to open their instagram account)

  1. @blklivesmatter
  2. @colorofchange
  3. @naacp
  4. @showingupforracialjustice
  5. @reclaimtheblock

Books to Read: 

  1. The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
  2. White Fragility (Why It’s So Hard) by Robin Diangelo 
  3. Between The World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates 
  4. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison 
  5. Stamped From The Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi 

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