What a Time for Black Music: 1980-1999

Avani Smith

Range: 1980-1999


1982: Beat It – Michael Jackson

I chose this song because I believe it is a representation of how Michael Jackson wanted to be viewed, as a peacekeeper. Michael Jackson spread the message of peace and love through his music. The message in the song is an attempt to end gang violence. Michael suggests that instead of staying to fight, beat it.

1984: Purple Rain – Prince

I chose this song so that I could talk about the type of musician/artist Prince was. Prince mastered the art of creating music. He is what I would consider a musical genius. Prince wrote his first song at the age of 7. At 19, he not only wrote his own songs, he played all the instruments, and produced his debut album “ For You”. Prince won 2 Grammy awards for Purple Rain.

1986: Jumpin’ Jack Flash – Aretha Franklin

I chose this song in honor of Aretha Franklin, also known as the queen of soul. Aretha released her version of Jumpin Jack Flash for a film produced by Whoopi Goldberg. It was not uncommon for Aretha to take songs and make them new with her distinctive style.

1990: Fight the Power – Public Enemy

I chose this song because of its impact. The song became an anthem for the back empowerment movement. The song was originally for Spike Lee’s film “ Do the Right Thing”. After the film, Spike Lee put together a music video for the song and it gained a life of its own.

1997: Stomp – Kirk Franklin

I chose this song because of the memories it holds. I remember going to church Sunday morning listening to Kirk Franklin. I am sure that this is a memory that some can relate to. Kirk Franklin is known for his role in merging gospel music with hip-hop. His blend of gospel and hip-hop was an inspiration for many artists, including one of my favorite artist, Chance the Rapper.


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