I recently read the other day that it’s Black music month. And it got me to thinking about which song by a Black artist has had a profound experience on me. Something that would could possible describe as a seminal moment in their life. I have plenty of albums that I have listened to that I say my life is better having heard it. Musical masterpieces such as Aquemini by Outkast, Train of Thought by Reflection Eternal, or Innervisions by Stevie Wonder all have helped me become the Puma that you all know and love and to try and nail down the one song that has had the most effect on me is impossible. So in true cop out fashion I am going to nail down the five most powerful songs to me presented in no particular order.
5. You Must Love Me: Jay-Z (Vol 1: In My Lifetime)
Definitely the most personal track out of the entire catalog of Shawn Carter, Hova shows he is not just about the jewels and bragging about his wealth. He reflects with guilt on the past mistakes of his life from selling drugs to his mother to his guilt over sending a past love on a drug run. You hear the regret in his voice and how it had affected him at the moment he recorded it.
4. Good Times: Sam Cooke (Single)
Most people for good reason always think of “A Change is Gonna Come” when Sam is brought up, and for good reason, that is one of the greatest songs ever. This song is more powerful for me due to the memories that this invokes. Hearing this takes me back to hanging with my grandmother and hearing her sing this. It takes me to a happy place.
3. What’s Going On? : Marvin Gaye (What’s Going On)
Do I even need to explain this one?
2. The Blast: Talib Kweli and DJ Hi-Tek (Train of Thought)
I remember the moment I first heard this song. I came home from a long day of school, turned the tv on and plopped onto my bed. Then I heard that opening line and have been a Kweli fan ever since.
1. I Can’t Write Left Handed: Bill Withers
Bill Withers first and foremost is probably the most underrated singer of the last 50 years. From ‘Lean on Me’ to ‘Use Me’ to ‘Just the two of us.’ He was and still is amazing. This song about a young soldier’s perspective of the Vietnam War is downright heartbreaking and will no doubt touch you.
And presented for no reason really I leave you with Billy Preston aka Agent Double O Soul.
So happy Black Music Month, go out there and pick up albums by Jimi Hendrix, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles and others. And while you're at it burn your Soulja Boy and Gucci Mane albums...damn it.