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As one of the most popular genres of music in America and the world, for decades artists have created Hip Hop that makes us dance, sing, celebrate,mourn, fall in love,and reminisces on good times shared. From politics to religion, rap has been one of the pillars of music that best represents the African American community. Below are songs that shed light on exactly what it means to be Black and proud.

1. “HiiiPower” by Kendrick Lamar



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Before Kendrick reminded us everything will be “Alright,” he offered words of comfort in “HiiiPower.” The song tells of African Americans overcoming on different levels of oppression with lyrics like:

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“Every day we fight the system just to make our way
We been down for too long, but that’s alright
We was built to be strong, cause it’s our life, na-na-na.”

2. “If I Ruled The World” by Nas featuring Lauryn Hill

When Lauryn Hill and Nas decided to collaborate it had to be a song that spoke to both of their audiences and showcased their talents in full. The lyrics offered by both Nas and Hill not only touched on societal issues but alleviated the pressures of the African American experience with the hypothetical powers of ruling the world.

“If I ruled the world, imagine that
I’d free all my sons, I love ’em love ’em baby
Black diamonds and pearls
Could it be, if you could be mine we’d both shine
If I ruled the world
Still livin’ for today, in these last days and times.”

3. “U.N.I.T.Y.” by Queen Latifah

Before Queen Latifah was one of our favorite actresses, she was a rapper who stood for equality. The MC made songs jammed packed with messages of becoming one for a greater good.

“Uh, U.N.I.T.Y., U.N.I.T.Y. that’s a unity
(Who you calling a b*tch?)
U.N.I.T.Y., love a black man from infinity to infinity(You gotta let him know)

U.N.I.T.Y., Love a black woman from (You got to let him know)
infinity to infinity (You ain’t a b*tch or a h*)”

4. “I’m Black Y’all” by CB4

Even though the film was satirical, CB4 made sure the message in their smash hit was crystal clear. Remember Allen Payne‘s “I’m Black Y’all” parody? Let’s never forget how much truth there is in jest. And a chant that embeds the message “I’m Black” into listeners’ heads is alright with us.

“I’m Black y’all, and I’m Black y’all
And I’m blackety Black and I’m Black y’all
And I’m black y’all, and I’m Black y’all
And I’m blackety black and I’m Black y’all
I’m biggety black Black”

5. “Fight The Power” by Public Enemy

Known for their political views on racial matters in America, Public Enemy created multiple songs that spoke on injustice and “Fight The Power” was one of them. The song caused major controversy but will go down in history as one of the most righteous rap songs ever made.

“And the rhythm rhymes rollin’
Got to give us what we want
Gotta give us what we need
Our freedom of speech is freedom or death
We got to fight the powers that be”

6. “Watts Interlude” by Dom Kennedy

Dom Kennedy is a rapper who talks mainly about the good times he spends with friends. However, in “Watts Interlude,” he offers an important song with a message in form of a poem. The dreamy instrumental and hook to accompany is the icing on the cake.

“I wrote this um poem because
A couple weeks ago I went um down to Watts with my homeboy
And uh he had some of his friends with him they was coming or whatever to take pictures or whatever
And they was looking like um
They had never seen black people
You know what I’m saying and um
I realized that uh
If you scared of your own people then you scared of yourself”

7. “Ms. Jackson” by Outkast

When Outkast decided to address all of the mothers whose daughters may have been the victim of their love spells, they spoke directly to Mrs. Jackson. The open letter of their wrongdoings and profession for the fictional woman’s daughter reminded Hip Hop fans of why Black love is so unique.

“Me and your daughter
Got a special thing going on
You say it’s puppy love
We say it’s full grown
Hope that we feel this
Feel this way forever
You can plan a pretty picnic
But you can’t predict the weather.”

8. “Back In The Day” by Ahmad

Songs like this are rare, ones able to sample a classic our parents loved while expressing growing pains from the Black male perspective so well. The song packs in Hip Hop style and nostalgia in a way many can relate.

“Used to live in south central LA

That’s where I stayed and figured a way out

I gave it all I had

so for what its worth

I went from rags to riches

which is a drag

but now im first

So(?….on our way up)

Yeap,we said that we was gonna make it since a kid

and we finally did

But sometimes I still sit and reminisce then

think about the years I was raised

back in the day”

9. “Changes” by Tupac

Tupac always made sure to pack his songs with a takeaway. In “Changes” he eloquently rapped about the history and hopes of the African American race from his perceptive. Keeping it 100 percent raw, “Changes” is a cry for help with hopes of a better tomorrow.

“Cops give a damn about a negro
Pull the trigger kill a n*gga he’s a hero
Give the crack to the kids who the hell cares
One less hungry mouth on the welfare
First ship ’em dope and let ’em deal the brothers
Give ’em guns step back watch ’em kill each other
It’s time to fight back that’s what Huey said
Two shots in the dark now Huey’s dead”

10. “Everything Is Everything” by Lauryn Hill

Being the storyteller she is, Ms. Hill delighted the world with music that offered more than just a beat and lyrics. Her song “Everything Is Everything” celebrated the essence of life and Black women’s contribution to it.

“Flipping in the ghetto on a dirty mattress
You can’t match this rapper slash actress
More powerful than two Cleopatras
Bomb graffiti on the tomb of Nefertiti
MCs ain’t ready to take it to the Serengeti
My rhymes is heavy like the mind of sister Betty (Betty Shabazz)
L-Boogie spars with stars and constellations
Then came down for a little conversation
Adjacent to the king, fear no human being
Roll with cherubims to Nassau Coliseum
Now hear this mixture, where Hip Hop meets scripture
Develop a negative into a positive picture.”