Black creatives move the culture and inform on the state of our communities. We draw inspiration from the world around us — especially from the artists who walked so we can run.
But even our heroes have heroes. The creators who feed our sense of wonder, creativity and joy also draw inspiration from the deepest wells of the imagination of those who came before them. Whether it’s the beats and rhymes that give us life, or a podcast featuring spoken word that speaks to our culture’s pulse in pivotal times, nothing has the power to move us quite like music.
This Black History Month, Spotify asked a few of our favorite creatives to share their favorite aural inspiration with some special playlist takeovers. Here are some that stand out on our list!
Featuring the first ladies of R&B singing some absolute classics, this list curated by the multi-talented actress and singer Keke Palmer speaks to the queen in all of us. With classics like Janet Jackson’s “Dammm Baby” to “Broken Clocks” by SZA, all the way to “Why Does it Hurt So Bad?” by the legendary Whitney Houston, this playlist serves as inspiration to go ahead and adjust the crown. Keep your ears open for a selection of songs by Keke herself. (We see you, Keke!)
Black Lives Matter
Keyon Harrold Sr.
In a collection that speaks to a moment that’s both timeless and urgent, jazz trumpeter Keyon Harrold curated a playlist that speaks to the Black experience in America. “When I think of what Black Lives Matter really means to me,” he says, “these are the songs that resonate.” From J. Cole’s “Be Free” to “Stay This Way,” which Harrold himself worked on with Bilal and Big K.R.I.T, the songs on this list inspire both Harrold and his son, the teen who was famously involved in a racially motivated attack this winter in New York City. Harrold has since created a petition with the racial justice organization, Color of Change, to end racial profiling. His hope is that allies and activists alike can use this moment to talk together and continue to build with one another. This list is music for that mission, if we’ve ever heard any.
Spotify (featuring the photography of Black Archives and the I. Henry Photo Project)
Even if we don’t have the chance to get behind the grill with family this year, this Spotify-curated playlist brings us back to feelings of being surrounded by loved ones and sharing moments when we need it most. The playlist features the photography of Black Archives and the I. Henry Photo Project, both collections of Black people and their families through the decades as they live life in love and connection. Even if your groove is more Soul 4 Real than Al Green, there’s something on the list for all the loved ones.
Black Love Mixtape
Lucky Daye and Ari Lennox
It’s always a good time to celebrate Black love. Every day is a good day to fall in love with our culture, our community, our families — and, most importantly, with one another. This playlist, co-curated by Lucky Daye and Ari Lennox, is a celebration of all the facets of Black love, from the excitement of the beginning to the warm tones of a life well lived together, and everything in between. Black love is a revolutionary act, and we love to see it.
I Love My HBCU
There’s nothing quite like reliving those college days to get you hyped about a brighter future. Whether your HBCU days took you to parties blasting Bell Biv Devoe or had you backing it up to Juvenile, this playlist, curated by none other than 2 Chainz, is a small slice of nostalgia that will take you back to the yard. Make sure you catch 2 Chainz’s tracks!
Power to the People
Spotify (featuring the photography of Doug Segers)
This moving playlist is curated by Spotify and features the images of Doug Segers. The celebrated photographer captures contemporary images that feel personal and very much like a moment captured in time. His photographs are the perfect complement to this playlist, which features the audio recordings of pivotal moments in Black history, both modern and historic. It’s a profound reminder that every day in Blackness is historic, but only some of us are lucky enough to capture it.
This Black History Month, as we celebrate and continue to be inspired by Black creators and changemakers, we’re making sure to find moments for joy and celebration. To get the full roster of specially curated playlists, check out Spotify’s full Black History is Now catalog, and find a new reason every day to stand up, resist, get inspired and stay connected.
This editorial is brought to you in partnership with Spotify.