Message Music: Songs That Say Something

September 29, 2011  |  


We debate constantly about the grim images in the music we listen to and how it tends to have a negative impact on our youth and even how adult men and women relate to one another. It’s good to take a moment to reflect on some of those tunes that are designed to make us feel good (and maybe even think a little bit). Here are a few of our favorite tunes driven by positive messages…let us know which ones we may have forgotten to include!


“What’s Goin’ On”-Marvin Gaye

Marvin’s tune poignantly expresses the singer’s frustration at the troubles of the world, from poverty to war. Sad to say that if he could see us today…things haven’t changed one bit.


“I Am Not My Hair”– India.Arie

Some people felt that India’s tunes about hair and appearance got to be a bit redundant, but it’s worth noting that her catalogue of songs  is vastly outnumbered by the number of videos and images bombarding Black women with the suggestion that in order to be beautiful, they must look a certain way. The songstress gets our respect for being a steady voice of encouragement for sisters everywhere.


“Hip-Hop”– Dead Prez

In the ten years since this song’s release, M1 and Stic Man of Dead Prez have consistently demonstrated that they are paying more than just lip service to social causes, with their activism and their commitment to making consistently thoughtful music that allows audiences an alternative to the nonsense on the radio without sacrificing those hard beats and dope lyrics Rap fans need to be engaged. These brothers understand that our world is truly “bigger than Hip-Hop”.


“Umi Says”-Mos Def

Though it was regrettably appropriated for a Nike commercial (feed ya kids, Mos, we understand), “Umi Says” is a beautiful, yet simple lamentation of a brother who wants nothing more than the safety and comfort of his people and his babies, to be a good man and to see the world improve. Plus the beat is one of the best to come out of Hip-Hop during the post-“Golden” era of the genre.


“Golden”-Jill Scott

Jilly from Philly sings like she’s smiling and that’s no less true than ever on this track, which sounds like a good mood on a sunny day. No matter what life throws at you, no matter how many challenges you face, she instructs us to just live like your existence is “golden”. We love it.


“Earth Song”-Michael Jackson

How many singers taught us about self-accountability (“Man In The Mirror”), the plight of the downtrodden (“They Don’t Care About Us”), being good to our fellow-man (“Heal The World”) AND reminded us to show love to the environment? There will never be another MJ…never.

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  • Nita

    No Kuti or Marley?

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  • SoTrue

    J Cole!! Absolutely! So under-rated…

  • Hiiipower & Cut You Off-Kendrick Lamar
    Walk Like a Warrior & Malcolm Garvey Huey- Dead Prez
    Souljah Life Mentality- Souljah Slim
    Sacrifice-The Roots
    U,Black Maybe-Common
    Bulletproof- Raheem Devaughn
    Slow Down- Brand Nubian OR David Banner
    Black Girl Shine-Stic.Man
    Jadakiss-Why
    <3

  • K Mayne

    Beautiful by Musiq Soulchild

  • nu-nu

    S.E.X. by Lyfe Jennings

  • IllyPhilly

    Dear Mama by Tupac
    All Falls Down By Kanye West
    When it hurts so bad by L-boogie
    Man in the Mirror by Mike Jackson

  • Brodie

    KT Tunstall – Miniature Disasters
    Dragonfly-Shaman's Harvest
    Eyesore-Janus
    Another Day in Paradise-Phil Collins
    Never Stop-Brand New Heavies
    Iron-Woodkid
    Dream In Color-Regina Bell
    Love Will Find A Way-Lionel Richie
    so many……………………

  • dreamer40

    I Know I Can by Nas

  • TrueDat

    Window Seat and Bag Lady by Erykah Badu
    Strange Fruit by Dwayne Higgins
    Roses by OutKast
    How to Love by Lil Wayne
    Torn by Kelly Rowland

    Few of my favorites..

  • Mzmystic

    Love is blind by eve
    Rosa parks by outkast
    Changes by tupac
    They don’t really care about us by the king of pop
    F*ckin perfect by pink
    Say it loud by James brown
    We could go on for days. Why stop at 7??

  • Victoria

    OH so I guess this was the list for watered down messages…What about songs like:

    Slow Down – Brand Nubian
    911 Is A Joke – Public Enemy (or pretty much every and any PE song)
    Express Yourself – NWA
    So You Wanna Be A Gangster – Too Short
    That Thing – Lauryn Hill
    Waterfalls – TLC
    Brenda Has A Baby – Tupac

    …I could go on & on & on…

    • Victoria

      C.R.E.A.M – Wu-Tang Clan!!!

  • Mynda

    Unpretty by TLC

  • Mariah

    Dance With the Devil- Immortal Technique
    Stay far far far away from gangs, kids.

  • sena

    Soldier by Erykah Badu
    The People & Love is by Common
    Dear God by The Roots
    The Answer by Raphael Saadiq
    Our Generation by John Legend and The Roots
    Ain't nobody worrrying Anthony Hamilton
    Help Somebody Maxwell
    In another time Sade
    Pearls India.Arie

  • ILL

    You Gotta Be, by Des'Ree