Staff Picks Playlist: Celebrate Black History

In honor of Black History Month, Acentric Magazine’s staff picks highlights and celebrates some of the current and past iconic musical artists from the last century. This week’s playlist was created to remember and celebrate these important people and their contributions in history.

“American Teen” by Khalid

At only 20 years old, R&B singer-songwriter Khalid has already made a name for himself in the music industry. Khalid recently won the VMA’s “Best New Artist” award. His debut studio album, American Teen, received Grammy nominations and was certified platinum. His music is packed with soul and soothing melodies. The “living free” vibes of “American Teen” make it my favorite off the record, and claim the song a spot on my summer playlist. (Brittany Isaacson, Editor/Photographer)

“20 Something” by Sza

Sza had quickly become one of my favorite modern WOC artists since she dropped her full-length Ctrl last year. She stands out from the crowd with her combination of 90’s and contemporary hip hop, pop, and R&B that she imbeds into each song. She’s real about life, both with her music and as a person. This song in particular is my personal favorite lyrically, as it’s one of the more raw and solemn songs on the album, and was even a hit with Paramore’s Hayley Williams. She landed five Grammy nominations this year for her efforts, and I’m so excited to see her take over. (Jordyn Beschel, Editor/Photographer)

“Shoegaze” by Alabama Shakes

Lead singer of Alabama Shakes, Brittany Howard, could silence a room in seconds with the power of her voice. Her mix of soul and blues makes for quite a unique sound. Not only is “Shoegaze” a groovy jam but it also showcases Howard’s talent. Released on Sound & Color, the same album as the band’s hits “Don’t Wanna Fight” and “This Feeling”, “Shoegaze” tends to go unnoticed as a breathtakingly impressive song. It is great for your next playlist whether you’re looking for an upbeat song for your roadtrip, party, or lip sync battle. (Keely Caulder, Writer)

“Johnny B. Goode” by Chuck Berry

You may recognize this song from the 1980s sci-fi classic Back to the Future in the scene where Marty McFly played at his parents’ high school prom. This track was actually composed and first performed in 1958 by Chuck Berry. Chuck Berry was an African American singer, songwriter, musician, and one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. Bob Dylan once called him the “Shakespeare of Rock & Roll” and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame had his to say about him: “If Elvis Presley cracked open the door for rock & roll, Chuck Berry kicked it wide open—and did his signature duck walk over it for good measure.” Honestly… I couldn’t have said it better myself. (Angelica Nicolle Abalos, Editor in Chief)

“Blessed” by Daniel Caesar

Hailing from Canada, Daniel Caesar is bringing the honest, soulful voice of R&B back onto the music scene. The gentleness of the piano, along with Caesar’s smooth vocals full of soul and warmth and infused with a full-on gospel choir makes this track unique among many of today’s popular hits. His recent release, Freudian, is filled with the same R&B soul from the days of old. Keep your eyes out and your ears open because Daniel Caesar is a name you’ll soon be hearing more of in the future. (Angelica Nicolle Abalos, Editor in Chief)

“Banshee (Ghost Fame)” by letlive.

Jason Butler commands attention the minute he runs on stage. Whether he’s scaling the walls, leaping into the crowd or jumping headfirst into a drum set. A letlive. performance is one you’ll surely never forget. Butler uses his platform to raise awareness about growing up “dirt poor” and how his ethnicity affected his childhood, while also empowering his listeners. Banshee is a passionate post-hardcore tune about his perspective on entertainment and how he feels it transitioned from an art form into an industry fueled by money. Butler encourages people to keep their integrity and create whatever they feel like creating because it is what we will leave behind. Banshee is a passionate and catchy tune that’ll make you want to dance and rock out in the pit. (Salma Bustos, Photographer)

“Glamorous Life” – Sheila E.

Sheila E. started playing music in the 70s with The George Duke Band before going solo and working with Prince. The percussionist’s career defining “The Glamorous Life” track led her Grammy nominations as well as performing and singing with Prince on “Purple Rain”, “Let’s Go Crazy” and more. I’ve always loved Sheila E’s drumming and “The Glamorous Life”. I chose her for this month’s playlist because a WOC star drummer back in 70s is truly badass \m/. (Krystina Gabrielle, Photographer)

“Purple Rain” – Prince

It’s hard not to miss a man that truly defined music. Prince revolutionized what rock and R&B were, combining them together creating the undeniable masterpiece that is “Purple Rain” and the entire Purple Rain album. The 8 minute masterpiece takes you through an entire range of emotions that you didn’t know 80s nostalgia could bring you. (Starr Brown, Writer)