As a child, I didn’t realize this coincidence, but as an adult, it’s quite clear: Valentine’s Day falls within Black History Month.
Of course, all love matters, and I encourage and celebrate the diversity of shapes, sizes and colors that romance can come in. But, because the two celebrations overlap, I have a great excuse to compose a black power and black love playlist, that not only honors love, but celebrates black culture.
Enjoy the Love and Blackness playlist ahead
Duke Ellington & John Coltrane “In a Sentimental Mood”
Perhaps their most gracious contribution, “In a Sentimental Mood” is the perfect instrumental to soothe your spirit, create a romantic vibe or simply lull you to sleep. It’s also heard in the background of several black romance movies and shows, such as Love Jones and Girlfriends.
To put it simply: it’s a staple in our catalog.
Kindness “With You” ft. Kelela
Ethiopian American soninger Kelela teams up with Kindness on this sensual, captivating track. “With You” is part jazz, part electro soul and completely a wind down, foreplay mood setting groove. Perfect for the night time and other things that happen when the lights are off.
Mario “Braid My Hair”
A delightful track about one of our most intimate moments: braiding hair.
Mario turns this everyday act into something romantic and gracious. It’s also such an unapologetically cultural song, that even if you don’t have a boo who braids your hair, you can relate-maybe your momma, aunty or big sis has done it, or perhaps you do it for others. Either way, it’s such a sweet gesture.
Solange “FUBU” ft. The-Dream & BJ The Chicago Kid
Solange dedicates this feel good, bop your head, tap your feet anthem to us. With lyrics describing everyday micro-aggressions, black struggles and a call for black empowerment, it’s enough to brighten your day when you’re feeling down.
Stevie Wonder “Overjoyed”
I’ve always believed Stevie Wonder’s name perfectly encompasses how dreamy and romantic his music is. “Overjoyed” is a classic: starry, melodic and slow, it arouses a tranquil, amorous mood—a true gem in the musical archive.
Nina Simone “Feeling Good”
“Feeling Good” feels radical and revolutionary: a black woman loving herself is a major weapon against the white patriarchy. Nina Simone, a deep complexioned woman with intricate features that are typically degraded by society, finds solace in these lyrics. It is the ultimate ode to self love, self realization and oneness with the world and your place in it.
Esperanza Spalding “Black Gold”
Esperanza Spalding sings of black excellence in this empowering, jazzy song. “Now maybe no one else has ever told you so/But you’re golden, baby/Black Gold with a diamond soul.” It’s an uplifting, soulful track that reminds us of our magic and wonder.
A beautiful love song to his son, “Africa” encapsulates the complexity of being removed from one’s homeland and existing in a nation that dishonors black people. Through his lyrics, he prays his son will be protected, guided and loved throughout his life.
Bilal “Soul Sista”
Bilal serenades black women in this deliciously soulful throwback jam. The video’s also extremely sexy.
Queen Latifah “U.N.I.T.Y.”
A bold attestment to black feminism, “U.N.I.T.Y.” is what I didn’t know I needed as a child.
The Queen stood up for all black women, reminded us we aren’t the bitches and hoes that men called us, and inspired us to love ourselves and each other. Twenty years later, black women are still united, stronger than ever at that. This love comes in many forms—from a sista supporting another sista online while she fights off internet trolls, to a naturalista complimenting another naturalista on her hair and skin.
Sade “Cherish the Day”
Sade can do no wrong in my ears. Her style is wonderfully passionate and honest, in a way that is essential to great music. “Cherish the Day” is one of my faves by her; just let it play and you’ll see why.
Timothy Bloom “‘Til The End of Time” ft. V Bozeman
This is one of the best baby making songs you probably never heard—and it’s a duet—and they’re both nude!
Bloom and Bozeman, who both have fantastic vocal chords, sing about their desire to bring a new child into the world, and how much fun they’ll have doing so. The music video is epic and filled with lots of curves and brown skin.
Robert Glasper Experiment “Afro Blue” ft. Erykah Badu
This is an ode to black beauty in all of its glorious forms, through descriptions of elegant dancers, vibrant complexions and kinky hair. With Badu’s vocals and the Robert Glasper Experiment’s hypnotic jazzy instrumentals, “Afro Blue” is a soothing celebration of blackness.