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The Blackout Playlist: These Songs Passionately Illustrate What it’s Like Being Black in America and the World

This year the Fourth of July falls in between a global pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement. Over the past several months the nation has witnessed the deaths and shootings of multiple unarmed Black people at the hands of white police officers.

To bring an end to police brutality and racial injustice, many people have decided to wear all black this year instead of the traditional red-white-and-blue Independence Day colors as well as participate in an economic blackout, a movement where people are expected to buy from Black-owned businesses until July 7, which is officially Blackout Day.

Top songs for your Blackout playlist Beyoncé, Lil Baby and Burna Boy (Photos: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coachella, Matthew Geovany, Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coachella)

For those of you not recognizing Independence Day this year and spending the holiday protesting, we came up with the perfect playlist to help.

“The Bigger Picture” by Lil Baby

Lil Baby captured everyone’s attention when he dropped his highly anticipated album “My Turn” in February 2020 and now he’s done it again with his song “The Bigger Picture,” which he released in response to the recent police brutality against Black people. In “The Bigger Picture,” the Atlanta native raps about the death of George Floyd, violence used against protesters, and much more. The track even became Lil Baby’s highest charting single.

“This Is America” official music video. (Video: Donald Glover/YouTube)

“This Is America” by Childish Gambino

On May 5, 2018, Donald Glover released the Grammy-Award winning rap song under his musical stage name Childish Gambino after performing the song on an episode of “Saturday Night Live.” The music video addresses gun violence, the countless amounts of Blacks deaths in the United States, and how America has historically used entertainment to distract people from cultural and political problems.

“Freedom” by Beyoncé, featuring Kendrick Lamar (Video: Beyoncé/YouTube)

“Freedom” by Beyoncé, featuring Kendrick Lamar

“Freedom” is the 10th track on Beyoncé’s sixth studio album “Lemonade.” The song was released on April 23, 2016, and features rapper Kendrick Lamar. While most of the songs on the album reference feminism and her husband’s Jay-Z’s infidelity, “Freedom” touches on racial and social issues in America. “Lemonade” has a total of 12 tracks and is accompanied by an hour-long film which premiered on HBO.

“Ye” by Burna Boy

Nigerian artist Burna Boy is one of the biggest Afrobeat artists of today. While the genre is known for its materialistic lyrics and party vibes, Burna uses his music to point out issues affecting his native country. His 2018 hit single “Ye” is a shining example of how the rapper intelligently infuses brash lyrics while also calling out oppression and police brutality.

“Americans” by Janelle Monáe (Video: Janelle Monáe/YouTube)

“Americans” by Janelle Monáe

On April 27, 2018, Janelle Monáe dropped her third studio album, “Dirty Computer.” Her single “Americans” is the last song on the 14-track album. The song exposes several systemic issues in America such as racism, gender inequality, homophobia, immigration policies, and police brutality. In the song, Janelle expressed the idea that evil in American society can be conquered by those who stand up against societal standards.

“Be Free” by J. Cole

“Be Free” by J. Cole music video. (Video: Jared Alexander/YouTube)

J. Cole released the anthem “Be Free” exclusively on SoundCloud following the death of Michael Brown Jr. in 2014. Michael Brown Jr., an 18-year-old unarmed Black man, was fatally shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. The song touches on police brutality and racial injustice in America. In the song, the 35-year-old rapper went on to express that he hopes the world will one day be filled with peace instead of injustice. J. Cole recently allowed his manager and Dreamville Records co-founder Ibrahim Hamad to share the song everywhere amid the Black Lives Matter movement and the death of George Floyd.

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