Celebrate Juneteenth with this SoundClouder-curated playlist ft. the most foundational Black music
This week, SoundCloud’s diversity resource group, Clouds of Color, came together to celebrate Black Music Month by building a time capsule via playlist. The idea, spurred by AC, senior manager of artist relations, was to select tracks that have defined SoundCloud, from our founding in 2007 through present-day. But very quickly, the team-building project started to spiral in the best possible way.
SoundCloud’s employee base is as diverse as our artists and listeners, and with song picks spanning generations and experiences, it became apparent that this capsule needed to reflect the important contributions from the past that paved the way for Black music today.
The conversation kicked off with everyone reminiscing about the first song they ever heard. Tricia, senior manager of label relations, said it was Anthony and the Imperials’ “Shimmy Shimmy Ko-Ko-Bop” because her parents played it on road trips or around the house; Drea on the brand partnerships team said it was Tupac’s “I Ain’t Mad at Cha” because her dad played it frequently just after Tupac was killed in ‘96.
This opened the door to other “firsts” and the Black TV and movie music that shaped pop culture, like “Not Gon’ Cry” by Mary J. Blige from “Waiting to Exhale” and the “Do the Right Thing” track “Fight the Power” by Public Enemy. The trip down nostalgia lane didn’t end there. Iconic mixtapes were discussed, from Lil Wayne’s “Dedication” series to Drake’s “So Far Gone,” in addition to foundational tracks from Black women in music, like Sade’s “The Sweetest Taboo” to Lauryn Hill’s “Killing Me Softly” to Noname Gypsy’s “Baby.”
While the songs associated with people’s formative years were very personal, there was more of a consensus around the music shaping the conversation today – and for good reason. For critical, long-term change to take place, we know that everyone needs to be marching to the same message and singing the same chorus.
Lil Baby’s track released this week, “The Bigger Picture,” written in response to the recent police brutality and about his own experiences with racism and now activism, is the anthem of the moment. Similarly, Kendrick Lamar has been unanimously recognized as an artist soundtracking the Black Lives Matter movement ever since the 2015 release of, “Alright,” a profoundly personal yet universal protest track he wrote to acknowledge the history of Black oppression and centuries-long healing power of music.
Over the course of the hour-and-a-half discussion, armed with an endless catalog of opinions, and fueled by the energy of music-lovers coming together, “The Capsule” was born. The final playlist features more than 40 tracks from the 1950s to today and still just skims the surface of Black music’s immeasurable influence. Dive into the playlist now to hear SoundClouders’ picks, and if you’re inspired, consider gathering together with some of your friends or fellow artists to build your own capsule soundtrack. What would make your list? Let us know by @ing us on social and using the hashtag #TheCapsule.
About Clouds of Color
Clouds of Color is a resource group consisting of racially diverse SoundClouders and allies. They aim to provide workplace resources and support through initiatives that encourage community, raise awareness, and positively impact our minority populations. As the majority of our creator and consumer base are from and/or have been influenced by PoC cultures, we aim to be mindful of how SoundCloud can best serve them so that they feel valued from a business perspective.