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The month of February is Black History Month. This month and every month to follow, it is important for us to listen to Black Creators and to help them as much as we can either by educating ourselves or by using our platforms to help spread the serious issues that Black communities have to go through. Please use your voice and help spread love not hate. Here are five songs by Black Musicians you should listen to this month.

1. Phony Ppl, Megan Thee Stallion – Fkn Around (Single, 2020)

Phony Ppl is a five-man band from Brooklyn, NY founded in 2010. The members of Phony Ppl; Elbee Thrie, Elijah Rawk, Matt “Maffyuu” Byas, Aja Grant, and Bari Bass, are all the products of musical parents who exposed them to music at a young age. Phony Ppl have been producing music as early as 2008, and you can find it buried deep in the internet, but their album Yesterday’s Tomorrow is what really introduced them to the world in 2015. Their music can only be described as “genreless”. It’s hard to pin them to a certain genre but when listening to them it becomes very apparent that they’re influenced by many sub-genre expressions such as R&B, Reggae Soul, Rock, and Jazz.

“Fkn Around” is no exception to this influence- the song itself makes you feel like you’re in a 70’s Disco Club, dancing with strangers and having a good time. The song is a story about being young and a woman messing around even though she’s in a relationship. With a loud groovy bassline, seductive vocals from lead vocalist Elbee Thrie and bubbly tempo this song will make you bounce around and groove. Originally debuted as a single with no features, Phony Ppl felt like they were missing something. That was until they got Megan Thee Stallion on the track. Megan’s verse brings such a breath of fresh air as she lets us see a woman’s perspective to the song’s meaning and her singing the last line is a good change from her usual bad bitch flow. This song makes it feel like Summer every time you listen to it, and I highly recommend you do.

2. Madvillain, MF DOOM, Madlib – Meat Grinder (Madvillainy, 2004)

Madvillain was a project between producer Madlib and rapper MF DOOM. Madvillainy, released in 2004, received critical acclaim from critics and landed a spot in the US Billboard Top 200. It immediately became a favorite among hip-hop fans and to this day is commonly regarded as one of the best albums ever produced, due to Madlib’s well-produced instrumentals and DOOM’s unique and clever lyricism and flows. Track 3, ‘Meat Grinder’, is a good example of their talents on display.  

The intro to the song samples ‘Sleeping in a Jar’ by The Mothers of Invasion, setting an uneasy and unnerving tone for the rest of the song. After the intro, the rest of the song is a sample of Lew Howard & the All-Stars’ Hula Rock. MF DOOM’s lyrical talent is on full display from here on out. While a lot of rappers rhyme at the end of each line, DOOM often rhymes within lines too, which creates a unique flow. Along with his flow, the lyrics are a testament to the MC’s creativity. The song talks about topics like hopelessly trying to get with a young girl, and even lines where he talks about how insane and nonsensical his lyrics are, and his usual references to pop culture. ‘Meat Grinder’ is a good introductory song to MF DOOM’s discography, and while he is no longer with us, may his music continue to influence future generations of artists and music lovers.

3. Orion Sun- Antidote (A Collection of Fleeting Moments and Daydreams, 2020)

Tiffany Majette, otherwise known as Orion Sun, is a New Jersey-born multi-instrumentalist, singer, and producer. There isn’t much information out there about her. but we know she has been releasing singles since 2017. She didn’t release a full-length album until early 2020 with the release of A Collection of Fleeting Moments and Daydreams. The album is this ethereal soundtrack with mellow beats and atmospheric melodies.

‘Antidote’ is the 2nd song on the tracklist. The song tells a modern love story of a young adult, romanticizing everyday aspects of spending time with a loved one such as driving in the city together and dealing with the stress of drama and everyday life living in urban cities. The piano chords and the slow drumbeat of the song compliment Orion Sun’s soft and beautiful vocal performance very well and build the tone of the song. A sweet tune about modern love and the small things to enjoy about it, even if it’s as simple as a car ride with the person you love. Orion Sun’s discography is very ethereal and emotional and the antidote is a good introduction to her music.

4. JPEGMAFIA – CUTIE PIE! (EP!, 2020)

Barrington DeVaughn Hendricks, JPEGMAFIA, is a rapper and producer from Baltimore, Maryland. JPEGMAFIA started learning how to produce when he was a teenager. After joining the United States Air Force, he began releasing music under the moniker Devon Hendryx. In 2015, he moved to Baltimore and started releasing music under “JPEGMAFIA” with his album Communist Slow Jams. After a release of a couple of mixtapes in February 2016, he released his debut studio album, Black Ben Carson. After moving to Los Angeles, he released his sophomore studio album Veteran, which was his most experimental album to date. The following year, he released his third studio album All My Heroes Are Cornballs. In 2020, JPEGMAFIA released a number of singles throughout the year which he compiled into a mixtape at the end of the year along with some original tracks called EP!.

 

The 5th song on EP! is called ‘CUTIE PIE!’ and is an extremely aggressive and antagonistic song. While the production is simple and the instrumental mainly being a drum beat and distorted bassline along with synthesized guitar plucks, the lyrics and flow are the stars of the show here. JPEGMAFIA raps about inauthenticity in the music industry, with lines describing “Billie Eilish got four Grammys, it’s frightening” and a line where he compares a lot of rappers in the music industry to Milli Vanilli, an R&B group popular in the 80s and 90s who got backlash when it came out they didn’t write or sing any of the music they put out. JPEGMAFIA is one of the most interesting rappers in the industry right now and “CUTIE PIE!” is a good introduction to his experimental and antagonistic discography.

5. Noname, Cam O’bi, Raury – Diddy Bop (Telefone, 2016)

Fatimah Warner, better known by her stage name Noname Gypsy, is a 29-year-old poet and musician from Chicago, Illinois. She made her breakthrough when Chance the Rapper collaborated with her in the song ‘Lost’ off of his album Acid Rap. After that feature, Noname released her 2016 mixtape Telefone. The album is focused on Noname’s childhood and her path to introverted adulthood through telephone conversations. It brings up issues like the pain Black women go through in this society, from topics like low self-esteem to abortions in such a gentle and emotional way.

‘Diddy Bop’ is the third song off of Telefone, and it can only be described as nostalgic. It makes you long for those innocent childhood moments of long summer nights spent playing outside. With Noname’s confident raps flowing effortlessly over a soft and playful beat. The song is a nice blend of 90’s R&B and Slam poetry. Her lyrics are strongly detailed and make you imagine the memories she raps fondly about. The song twinkles in the same way that streetlights do. Raury’s verse is almost like slam poetry, it’s so soft and unforced but full of emotion that hits you hard. This is the type of song you should play when you drive aimlessly around town with friends while the windows are down. Let your hair blow in the wind and vibe out with it.

Give any of these songs a listen? Let us know! Tag us on Twitter or Instagram @HerCampusSJSU!

Hey, my name is Joanna but I go by Joe. I’m a Journalism major at SJSU. I love music, plants, photography, and writing.
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