Hip Hop Songs You Should Know As We Celebrate Black History pt1

KRS-One teacherWith this being Black History Month, I been going through a lot of songs and videos that may give us food for thought, inspire us and reflect what this month should ideally be about…obtaining knowledge of self  and remembering that Black History is World History… It’s also something that occurs everyday, not just limited to the Month of February…

Remember when historian/ scholar Carter G Woodson established the second week in February Negro History Week in 1926,  it was done with the intent of acknowledging the birthday of Fredrick Douglass and providing us with a vehicle to push for Black History to be a foundation to American History…

Negro History Week grew over the years and in 1969 Black students at kent State expanded the week long celebration to a Black History month.. Several years later in 1976, President Gerald Ford acknowledged Black History Month..

Over the years lots of artists have stepped to the plate and delivered timeless songs that uplifted our history… I gathered a few for us to peep and reflect on.. Some of this is a mixture of the past and present.. enjoy..

You Must Learn by KRS-One

This is one of my favorites… it was dropped by KRS during what many considered the Golden Era of Hip Hop.. There were two different versions of this song. One used the break beat Supersporm by Captain Sky, the other  depicted in this video uses the popular break ‘Get Up and Dance‘ from Farther Than Imagination


Acknowledge Your History by the Jungle Brothers

This was always a favorite from the Jungle Brothers.. It’s off the album Forces of Nature.. I wish they had done a video because the song is dope.. Also coming out of Hip Hop’s Golden Era..


Gary ByrdWe Wear the Crown by Gary Byrd & Stevie Wonder

This is a classic song that has been written out of history in terms of its importance.. Two things we should note.. First Gary Byrd is more than just a talented musician who has put out several records prior to this one including Every Brother Ain’t a Brother in the early 70s that proceeds the first rap songs, Rappers Delight by Sugar Hill Gang and King Tem III by Fatback Band by several years. Byrd is a radio deejay who harks back to the days when ‘announcers’ routinely spit rhymes in between songs as way to display their vocal flyness..

Byrd when he released this song, teams up with Stevie Wonder in 1983 and does a stellar Black History song.. The pairing represented a break in ‘elders supporting rap/Hip Hop when so many at that time were highly critical and against it.. They saw Hip Hop as an embarassing throwback.. Byrd and Wonder saw things a bit differently..They saw the potential ion Hip Hop and wanted to help lead the way…


I Can by Nas

This song speaks for itself.. How can you go wrong with Nas?  He dropped this a song a few years ago and it garnered a few awards and lots of critical acclaim. For many it was a welcome breath of fresh air to see an artist of his stature and popularity step from beef and meaningless chatter and do something for the kids.. The Funky Drummer beat and Nas’ uplifting lyrics will always make this song a classic..


Freedom Rap by Queen Latifah, Yo-Yo, Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes (of TLC), MC Lyte, Patra, Nefertiti, Da 5 Footaz Salt-N-Pepa, Meshell Ndegeocello

Many people have overlooked or don’t even know this about this song. It was done for a hard to find sound track for 1995 movie Panther..That album had a quite a few songs, but this was a standout in terms of the allstar cast of female emcees and singers who were at the top of the field going for it.. This song will forever be a treasure


Proud to Be Black & Black History by Run DMC

Run Dmc ChristmasI’m going back to back with Run DMC.. This song is off the landmark album Raising Hell and it speaks for itself.. damn near every song off that album was a banger especially at that time.. and this song hit the mark..Rap was still making its way into the mainstream and it was good to see Run DMC do this song in prominent spaces.. during the mid 80s…

The second song, Black History is a rare and hard to find song that was given away for FREE back in like 1984 and proceeds the Raising Hell lp…The Black Cultural Workshop (BCW) put the actual video together for the song



The Truth About Race by Labtekwon

This song is a more recent offering from a prolific Baltimore based emcee who is no joke as a lyricist, scholar and artist..His 18th or 19th full length album  and 35th recording overall is called  Hardcore: Labtekwon and The Righteous Indignation- Rootzilla vs Masta Akbar. Here you’ll find a number of songs that can easily fit within this collection of songs to check for around Black History..


The Lost Tribe of Shabazz by Lakim Shabazz

Lakim Shabazz - TLTOSLakim Shabazz who hails from the Flavor Unit crew ala Queen Latifah and Mark the 45 King, was always a conscious cat who spoke truth to power. Him coming with Pro Black lyrics was to be expected..Vintage cuts like Black is Back and Pure Righteousness were the order of the day.. What wasn’t expected was when he shot his video for the title song from his second album ‘Lost Tribe of Shabazz‘ in Egypt.. At the time doing a video like this was not cheap.. Homeboy was literally putting his money where his mouth is and letting folks know that he was dead serious about the words he was spitting..


Be Black by King Sun

This was a favorite from King Sun who was always coming with heat during the time he dropped this. It was the heart of the Afrocentric Golden Era. Interestingly enough it appears that Sun took a shot at the Native Tongue cats when he disses a group of guys who had on funny ‘gear’ in the video. Not too much was made of it.. But this song got a lot of run when it came out..


That wraps up this round of songs.. There are lots of others including joints from groups like dead prez, Paris, Poor Righteous Teachers, X-Clan and Queen Mother Rage and many more.. We’ll post up some more videos in a couple of days.. In the meantime reflect and enjoy…