Celebrate Black Music Month with a playlist curated by Logitech's Global Head of Social, Adu, honoring Black musical artists' contributions.
Black musical artists have made endless contributions to multiple genres, laying the foundation for many artists to come.
This Black Music Month, we celebrate the Black excellence that music artists have contributed to the industry, along with the joy and inspiration of a playlist filled with upbeat, motivational songs.
Sounds of Blackness - “Optimistic”
What's a better way to kick off a song than with the words, "You can win, as long as you keep your head to the sky," followed by a truly motivational chorus? Released in 1991, the song "The Blackness" was given new life by August Green ft. Brandy (The vocal bible), which infused the classic vocals with a fresh, modern flavor, thanks to Brandy's radiant tone and voice.
The Jacksons - “Can You Feel It”
The First Family of Music seamlessly blends their harmonies in this hit. When Michael Jackson asks, "Can you feel it?!" you may wonder what he means until you're swept up in the mesmerizing instrumentals that follow. The King of Pop single-handedly wrote this song, in which he passionately argues that everyone in the world should love each other in harmony.
The R&B group Blackstreet, which was founded by Teddy Riley (a close collaborator of Jackson) sampled the track in their 1999 album Finally in the track "Intro/Can You Feel Me.”
Jay-Z - “Show Me What You Got”
Fun fact: Jay-Z briefly retired from his career in hip-hop/rap just like Michael Jordan stepped away from basketball but returned with a bang. This song served as Jay-Z's warning to other artists that he's the Michael Jordan of recording, giving them just a few months to get their act together before he returns to continue dominating the music industry.
The track features amazing percussion and drum patterns throughout, almost serving as a "featured artist" on the song. Let's not forget to credit Jay-Z ft. The Drum! Later on, Lil Wayne used the instrumental for one of the greatest freestyles ever, declaring himself the "greatest rapper alive." But we'll let you decide.
Missy Elliott (feat. Ciara & Fat Man Scoop) - “Lose Control”
The song kicks off with the phrase "Let's go!" and it's completely apt because when the song starts, you won't want it to stop. You won't have any control over your body once the beat drops (We actually challenge you to try!).
The ultimate hype man, Fat Man Scoop, and Missy create a vibe that encourages the listeners to free their minds and completely lose themselves in the music.
Destiny’s Child - “Survivor”
When this anthem came out, it was used to address the media and the future of Destiny’s Child. The song's message was simple yet powerful: Beyonce, through her immense talent and skill, was a survivor. Period.
Another highlight of the song was the introduction of Michelle Williams, the newest member of the group, and her unwavering title of "The Queen of Bridges." She gave life to the song's midway point with her gospel roots, singing: "After all of the darkness and sadness, soon comes happiness. If I surround myself with positive things, I'll gain prosperity." Although Beyonce and Anthony Dent are credited as the songwriters, it's Michelle's gospel-style delivery that has made that part of the song so unforgettable.
Solange - “Don’t Touch My Hair”
Seriously, please don’t. "Don't Touch My Hair" is a powerful reminder to Black people of the strength and significance of their hair, which is their crown. The song is part of "A Seat At The Table," which is widely regarded as one of the best albums in the history of music.
Solange's New Orleans roots are evident in the song, with the inclusion of brass instruments throughout the chorus. Additionally, Solange's skills as a fine artist are showcased in the video, which displays different hairstyles and textures, paired with beautiful imagery.
Frank Ocean - “Pink + White”
Frank Ocean pours his heart out to listeners in what feels like one of the most beautiful love letters ever written. He reflects on the essence of true love and reminds us what it looks and feels like.
If that’s not enough, he has an easter egg at 2:00 where Queen Bey (IS THAT BEYONCE?!) can be heard singing background vocals on the song. BEYONCE … SINGING … NOT LEAD BUT BACKGROUNDS. How?! The song was written by Frank Ocean and Pharrell Williams. This is love indeed.
Pharrell Williams - “Happy”
Pharrell Williams, a brilliant songwriter and producer known for his work behind the scenes, became the happy frontman of one of the most joyful songs of all time. Originally meant for Ceelo Green (*If you listen closely and know Ceelo Green's tone/voice, you can understand why it made sense for him to sing), Pharrell eventually recorded "Happy" himself.
The song went viral, with its video garnering an astounding 1 billion views on YouTube. It even earned Pharrell an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song at the 86th Academy Awards. Let's not forget the iconic Pharrell Happy hat that also went viral the same year!
Harry Belafonte - “Jump In The Line”
In May 2023, we lost a tremendous civil rights activist, gifted actor, and incredible musical artist – Harry Belafonte. Similarly to his close friend Sidney Poitier, Belafonte's talents were versatile as both an actor and musician. His signature song, "Jump In The Line," is a timeless call to action for us to come together in celebration, which was very much in line with Belafonte's views on how we should be working towards making the world a better place.
MC Hammer - “Too Legit to Quit”
Stop! Hammer time! When a lot of hip-hop/rap artists let their lyrical skills shine as their primary talent, MC Hammer rapped a motivational tune to some heavy beats. He released this hit in 1991 and it was the lead single on his third album Too Legit to Quit – one of the most successful rap albums of the decade. The song quickly became an anthem for its catchy chorus and motivating lyrics. The chorus boasted a memorable call-and-response style of singing, where Hammer sang "Too legit to quit!" and then the entire crowd responded with "Too legit to quit!".
Lizzo - “About Damn Time”
It’s thick:30 which means it’s time to turn up the music! On “About Damn Time” Lizzo, the Queen of self-care and motivation encourages listeners to take time to celebrate the small wins in life. The song was already climbing the charts to land a spot on the Hot 100 as the #1 song in the world when it reached new heights on TikTok through a viral dance challenge. The song quickly turned into another Lizzobanger and was awarded for Record of the Year at the 2023 Grammy Awards, making Lizzo the first Black woman to receive this honor in almost three decades. Prior to this, Whitney Houston won in that same category in 1994 for her rendition of “I Will Always Love You.” And it was about damn time!
Ashford & Simpson - “Solid”
Nickolas and Valerie Simpson, a married couple, serenade listeners with the tale of their flourishing marriage, emphasizing the importance of being "solid as a rock" amidst the inevitable challenges that come with relationships and matrimony.
This dynamic duo has not only worked together as writing partners and producers but also created iconic love songs such as "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and "You're All I Need to Get By," performed by Marvin Gaye and Tammy Terrell, and "I'm Every Woman," sung by Chaka Khan, a 2023 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee. The unifying theme across these timeless tunes? A celebration of Black joy.
Stevie Wonder - “As”
"As" by Stevie Wonder has become an iconic song for Black cinema. It's a celebration of "peak Black Joy," according to fans, and can be heard in the soundtracks of hit movies like The Best Man trilogy and ABC's series finale of Black-ish. 'The lyrics tell a story of unconditional love, with Stevie Wonder singing, "Always, I will love you." It's become a go-to feel-good song that never gets old!
Ms. Lauryn Hill - “Doo Wop (That Thing)”
The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill has cemented its place in music history after it won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1999. The lead single from the album, "Doo Wop (That Thing)" is a powerful love letter about how to navigate relationships. Since then, Lauryn Hill has released an incredible live album called Unplugged which featured tracks like "Water" and "Mystery of Iniquity" - the latter of which Kanye West sampled for his song "All Falls Down," featuring Syleena Johnson. Hill’s impact on music and culture is undeniable, with her artistry still inspiring today. It's a testament to the timelessness of Hill.
Puff Daddy [feat.] - “It’s All About the Benjamins” (Remix)
When you think about a song that is quotable from the beginning to end and can be sung in unison by the Black community, there are a few that immediately fall into that category: “Can We Talk” by Tevin Campbell, “Poison” by BBD and best friends deciding who will be Brandy and who will be Monica while singing every lyric to the hit song “The Boy Is Mine” produced by Rodney “Dark Child” Jerkins. At the top of the list, however, is “It’s All About The Benjamins'' – a star-studded song featuring The Notorious B.I.G., Lil' Kim, & The LOX.