20 Celebration Songs for Your 2023 Black History Month Playlist

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To honor Black History Month, we've put together a list of 20 celebration songs that you absolutely need on your playlist for this February. Remember - this list was made in no particular order.

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20. Marvin Gaye and Tami Terrell - "Ain't No Mountain High Enough"

What better way to kick off our list than this optimistic classic from Marvin Gaye and Tami Terrell? "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" is one of the most memorable songs you'll find on this list of celebration songs.

19. Public Enemy - "Fight The Power"

When it comes to timeless tracks for a Black History Month playlist, there are few better candidates than the songs of Public Enemy, especially "Fight The Power."

18. Beyoncé - "Black Parade"

Beyoncé is one of the most iconic female recording artists of all time. "Black Parade" absolutely had to find a place on our list today; lo and behold, it has.

17. Kendrick Lamar - "Alright"

"ALL MY LIFE I HAD TO FIGHT..." was one of the most powerful starts to a Kendrick Lamar song, not to mention the incredible beat that played behind it throughout. What kind of list would this be if it didn't feature "Alright" from Kendrick?

15. Bob Marley - "Get Up, Stand Up"

Bob Marley was a leader in many senses, and his songs made that apparent. "Get Up, Stand Up" is one of the most perfect examples of this at work; listen for yourself.

14. Nas and Damian Marley - "My Generation"

Nas and Damian Marley hail from two different areas of the world, yet the hail from the same generation. Thus, the song "My Generation" came into existence, and made its way onto our list today, for good reason.

13. Aretha Franklin - "Respect"

In one of the most famous songs of all time, Aretha Franklin left behind a major legacy with her song "Respect." She was speaking her truth, while giving an audience of any background something to dance to (and to sing along to). Did we mention Otis Redding originally wrote and recorded this hit himself? Aretha's version proved to be the fan-favorite.

12. James Brown - "Say It Loud"

Next up on our list of celebration songs is "Say It Loud" by James Brown. James Brown was known for his exuberance and enthusiasm, so it came as no surprise when he dropped off his classic song, "Say It Loud." This track is yet another must-have for our list today.

11. Buddy - "Black 2"

Buddy has proven his lyricism time and time again, and "Black 2" just so happens to be one of the best examples. Take a listen for yourself and see - we mean really, really listen.

10. Jeezy feat. Rick Ross - "Almighty Black Dollar"

Jeezy and Rick Ross are both hip-hop legends in the own right, and when they came together for "Almighty Black Dollar," they created an unforgettable collaboration that spoke words of substance.

9. Pharrell feat. Jay-Z - "Entrepreneur"

Pharrell and Jay-Z are both legendary artists and entrepreneurs, so it was no surprise that one of their collaborations came to be called "Entrepreneur," which promoted that choice of livelihood to the youth. Did we mention that Pharrell was nominated as the lead menswear designer for Louis Vuitton the day this article was written? Talk about an entrepreneur who knows how to make something of his brand.

8. India Arie - "Brown Skin"

India Arie's song, "Brown Skin," was an absolute necessity for this list, which features only the best of the best (and the most relevant for these purposes). If you've never heard it before, here's your chance.

7. Nas feat. Lauryn Hill - "If I Ruled The World"

Nas and Lauryn Hill's "If I Ruled The World" is one of the most legendary rap songs of all time, and it has quite a strong message behind it if you listen closely. It's pleasing to listen to, but is also saying an awful lot of substantial points.

6. Sounds of Blackness - "Optimistic"

Some of our favorite songs from this list have optimistic qualities, like "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" or "Alright." However, it's probably safe to say that "Optimistic" by Sounds of Blackness takes the cake for the most positive track on our list.

5. Nina Simone - "Young, Gifted, and Black"

Nina Simone preached on her song "Young, Gifted, and Black," adding to her stacked catalog of hits. This one hits extra hard, check it out for yourself.

4. The Carters - "Black Effect"

It's always a historic musical moment when Jay-Z and Beyoncé link up, this is nothing new. When they connected as The Carters, they took things a step up. Who can forget their classic track "Black Effect"? It absolutely qualifies as a celebration song for this year's Black History Month.

3. Isley Brothers - "Freedom"

The Isley Brothers are one of the most iconic black musicians of all time, and "Freedom" epitomized the message behind their music in such a quintessential way.

2. The Beatles - "Blackbird"

The Beatles obviously weren't black, but they were heavy on the activism. "Blackbird" was an absolute hit off of their "The Beatles Album" (also known as "the White Album"), and told the story of the deep-rooted racial tensions in the southern United States.

1. A Tribe Called Quest - “We The People”

When it comes to rap classics, A Tribe Called Quest are no strangers at all. "We The People" is not only a classic by rap standards, but also by general standards. It tells the same story as the rest of our list, yet in a unique way. That's it for our list of celebration songs - stay tuned for more music tips and updates on our site.

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