28 classic songs every black person MUST know


It’s still time. It’s time to share some more reasons why it’s so crazy to be black. This year I decided to incorporate one of my FAVORITE things in life… music. This year for Black History Month, I decided to watch 28 classic songs every black person should know. EVERY day in February I’ll be talking about a song, which as a black person of a certain age you should know from TOP to BOTTOM. I’m talking about adding libraries, I’m talking about bridges and blackouts. Shiiiiiii… I’m talking about musical breaks and instrument solos that you hum and harmonize when there are no lyrics in sight.

These are songs that we hold on to. Songs that contain a special kind of nostalgia and can take us back to specific moments in our lives that make us smile. These are songs that build community without even trying, songs that when the beat drops you know the chorus is about to be FULL, that you’re just chilling at home with some- a few of your friends or at a wedding reception with hundreds of people on the dance floor. These are songs that are undeniably good. Classics that are and always will be for Culture. So, that being said, if you follow as it should… you’ll have a full playlist of 28 classic songs. Nothing! You will also be hyper aware of the times in which I grew up by some of my choices. Once again, you are welcome. Enjoy!

You can also listen to the playlist:

28 classic songs every black person should know

Tevin Campbell - Can We Talk1. Tevin Campbell “Can We Talk”

I wonder if Tévin Campbell knew he had pure gold with this one when he recorded “Can We Talk?” With that song, he rightfully spoke to the minds of all the shy teens who were trying to get the courage to talk to their crush over there in the corner with the oversized Nautica button, or knee-deep stockings with them. pleated skirts (you know you’ve had one of these seizures).


MotownPhilly Boyz II Men

2. Boyz II Men “MotownPhilly”

When I first heard “MotownPhilly” I knew the voices singing were going to be huge. My teenage self felt it in my guts. The song was just too perfect for them not to do it. They were four black men who could saaaaang, not sing, saaaaaaaang. They were well cut, dressed in AF flywear and full of positive and fun vibes that grabbed you right away. They were Boyz II Men and it was their first single.


Salt-N-Pepa Shop

3. Sel-N-Pepa “Shoop”

How did I learn EVERY word of Salt-N-Pepa’s song “Shoop” ?! My mom wouldn’t even let me watch the video. She said their short shorts were inappropriate, so you know I wanted a pair. Either way, it proves tweens are resourceful when needed.


Usher Nice & Slow
4. Usher – “Nice & Slow”

“Nice & Slow” has one of the best opening lyrics in R&B history. It is not an opinion, it is a fact. If you are asked, as a black man born between 1980-1990, where Usher was, at 7 o’clock sharp, you had better answer in his “top top, walking the streets …” So that he is somewhere else, it’s just unacceptable.


After 7 years ready or not
5. After 7 – “Ready or not”

“I will give you the sun, the rain, the moon, the stars and the mountains. I’ll give you the world… ”What woman wouldn’t want this to be sung to them? That’s probably why even though it was released 32 years ago, After 7’s “Ready or Not” still stands the test of time. I’m sure this song has been played at countless weddings, proms throughout the ’90s and sounded in car radios outside your daughter’s house when you know you messed it up.

“Ready or Not” was released in 1989 and was featured on the band’s third album, their eponymous release. The song is written and produced by Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds.


New edition if it's not love
6. New edition – “If it’s not love”

This classic is eye-catching AF. It’s the song you hear once in the morning and stays in your head ALL day, but in a good way. I say this because if you listen to this song 9 out of 10 times it will take you down the rabbit hole New Edition and the next thing you know you sing “Candy Girl” and “Can You Stand The Rain” at the top of your lungs too.


TLC No scrubs
7. TLC – “No scrubs”

On the one hand, “No Scrubs” is an unmistakable anthem, on the other hand it was played so much when it was released, I think it would be okay if I didn’t have to hear it again for a while. That being said, I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that it is indeed the BONUS to go singing when you and your girls are talking about a guy you DON’T feel. When I say not to feel, I mean that the Brother has many “Scrub like” tendencies, that is to sayGetting out of the passenger side of your best friend’s journey …”Trying to yell at you.


Before I Let Go Maze with Frankie Beverly8. “Before letting go”

If your childhood was as blessed as mine, when you were younger and Maze’s “Before I Let Go” starring Frankie Beverly appeared on the barbecue, you would automatically roll your eyes. Instantly you knew all of your aunts and uncles, mom and dad and just about anyone over 40 were about to get up and show up. They wouldn’t just dance, but you would also be hit by the barrage of “What do you know about that here?” “ The funny thing is, because you heard it so many times in your youth, you know EXACTLY “what it is here” as an adult!


Rock with you Michael Jackson
9. Michael Jackson – “Rock with you”

You know there couldn’t be a list like this without at least one Michael Jackson classic. There was quite a bit of choice, but there was one thing that just edged out “Rock With You” over the rest, the dazzling jumpsuit he wore in the video. Not many people could do it, but MJ made him look normal and effortless, but then again, almost everything he did seemed effortless. But, enough about her fashion choices, let’s get into the gem that is “Rock With You”.


Luther Vandross - Never Too Much
10. Luther Vandross – “Never too much”

I’m a fan of Luther Vandross all around, but especially of the great Luther. It was during this time that he was really producing hits, and “Never Too Much” is no exception. I’m going to go ahead and say if you ask a lot of people their Top 5 Male R&B Singers, Luther will be there somewhere. Her voice is transcendent. Luther can heal your heart and break it in the same damn song. Her voice was smooth and perfect. Big Luther (and Little Luther) never get bad grades. It wasn’t in his DNA.


11. SWV – “Low”

We need to talk about Coko’s voice first. Slim. When she comes up with that, “I try hard to fight it … I can’t deny it. “You know you listen to a seasoned singer. Like black seasoning, not the bland white potato salad sort of thing. SWV can’t work if those three voices aren’t together, that’s for sure, but you also can’t deny that once Coko starts singing she commands the song.They all complement each other and make hits while doing it.


Marvin Gaye - Let's Go
12. Marvin Gaye – “Let’s Go”

I really tried baby …“Now Marvin Gaye knows he doesn’t have to try that hard, he was a full-fledged sex symbol with a panty-knocking voice with a note and ‘Let’s Get It On’ solidified that . It’s the song people play when they want to get started, point to point. I hear her and think about what it might have been like at basement parties at the time with the red light on while she was playing.


Brandy i wanna be downstairs
13. Brandy – “I want to be depressed”

I would like to know if I could be, the kind of girl you could be in love with …“Yes sister! Go straight to the point! No need to waste your time or yours. From the minute I first heard Brandy’s first single, “I Wanna Be Down”, she had a fan in me for life. Brandy, it was me! A shy girl who wanted to meet a cute boy, yet looked too sexy in her braids and any outfit not showing the belly that mom approved of. She was my official friend in my head and there was no going back.


I'll be there for you - You are all I need to get by14. Method Man & Mary J. Blige – “I’ll be there for you / You are all I need to get by”

My teenage self wanted someone to have a “I love Jones for my body and my skin tone so bad!“I’ll be there for you / You’re all I need to get by” is the epitome of the neighborhood love story. Method Man and Mary J Blige are the perfect combination. It’s a love song, but the beat is filthy and creepy. I actually believe that’s a big part of its appeal. Whoever tied these two knew what they were doing. What guy you don’t know with Method Man ?! And by the time that song fell, Mary had all the women in her corner after dropping “What’s the 411?” and “My life”. It was predestinated for them to come together.



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