The conclusion of June marks the end of Black Music Month, and the midway point for the year. At 808s and Jazz Breaks, the goal, in part, is to celebrate the range and variety of Black American music, its origins, evolution, and cultural impacts. Black music is rich with depth, and carries with it unique stories. In particular, June was highlighted by album releases from Prince, Goldlink, Phillip Bailey of Earth, Wind, and Fire, and Jordan Rakei, as well as some exciting singles from Raphael Saadiq and Brittany Howard and their forthcoming albums. We’re halfway through the year, and there’s been plenty to be excited about, musically.
Below are some of our favorite songs from the month and a bit about why we love them. Side A, songs 1-7, were selected by Kevin, and Side B, songs 8-15, were selected by me, Stanley. We hope that you enjoy the playlist, find a song you like, and dive into an entire album!
Stanley: Raphael Saadiq – Something Keeps Calling Me (Featuring Rob Bacon)
In the weeks and days leading up to the release of an album, the lead single is supposed to do much of the heavy lifting, building anticipation for a forthcoming album. Streaming altered (read: messed up) the anticipation we typically feel for an album, as most albums kind of just… come out? But, earlier this month Raphael Saadiq released his lead single Something Keeps Calling Me in support of his forthcoming album, Jimmy Lee, and boy… this song is INCREDIBLE! I love where Saadiq’s heart and head are at. Can’t wait for the album!
Stanley: Prince – Holly Rock
Earlier this month, Prince’s estate released Originals - a compilation of songs written and composed by Prince for other artists. By all means, Originals is a masterclass is songwriting and composition, and shows the breadth of styles Prince could work within. In particular, Holly Rock, written for Sheila E., is classic Prince - a tight groove, funky bass line, blasting horns and a soaring guitar solo at the song’s apex.
Stanley: Isaiah Sharkey — Honey Bone
Isaiah Sharkey, a Chicago native, known for his distinctive and versatile guitar playing, has become a go-to musician for D’angelo, John Mayer, Chris Dave, and many others. And somehow, between touring and session work for other artists, Sharkey managed to put out his own music. Sharkey’s latest release, Love Is the Key, sees the artist take a step forward as songwriter, vocalist, and composer. Vocally, Love Is The Key shows Sharkey’s continued contribution to the tradition of soul singers, making his influences clear - Curtis Mayfield, George Clinton, Marvin Gaye and many others. In particular, Honey Bone, displays some of the guitar playing that Sharkey’s come to be loved for with strong melodic lines and harmonically interesting chord progressions, as he sings in a falsetto that glides across the instrumentation.