Amazingly, the month has managed to fly by: Today is February 12 — or the 12th day of Black History Month. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been proudly featuring Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of genres and styles with the hopes that these artists can guide you towards further understanding of the Black experience.
As the month goes on, I hope that you’ll be reminded of these urgently important facts:
- Black culture is American culture — and Black music is American music.
- America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
- Black art matters.
- Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.
In October 2013 my employer sent me to Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany for the Frankfurt Book Fair. The trip marked a number of firsts for me — the first time I flew on a plane; the first time I had left the country; the first time I was in Europe.
A friend, who has become a very dear friend since that trip, was living in Frankfurt at the time and we agreed to meet up while I was in town. The night I was meeting her, I got on an S-bahn 3 train in Bad Soden, where I was meeting her and took the 30 minute ride through the German countryside into town, getting off at the Haupwatche stop.
Walking the stairs to the street, I noticed a Christmas market — and one of the vendors was playing Notorious B.I.G.’s “One More Chance.” For a brief moment, I was quickly transported 4,000 miles back home. And from that point on, I was convinced that hip-hop is the lingua franca of everyone under 50; that I could go into the most random village on the planet and recite Wu-Tang lyrics and the kids would follow along with the next verse.
But let’s not forget that Notorious B.I.G.. was one of the greatest emcees to ever rock a mic.