Photo: Capitol

I’m not even sure I need to explain why “Before I Let Go” would be the final song of the 30 Days of Musical Blackness With VSB series. If you’re black and have congregated with other black folks and this song comes on you know it signals one of two things: 1) It’s time to get your line dance on, or 2) it’s time to go.

MAZE featuring Frankie Beverly “Before I Let Go” (1981)

It’s Sunday, it’s the last day of June, it’s the last day of Black Music Month and, well, as much as we’ve enjoyed this series, it’s time to bring it to a close. And there is no better way to do it than with one of the most culturally specific songs of all time. Kids from 8 to 80 know “Before I Let Go” and it fits every occasion of blackness you can think of. It opens up with “you make me happy…” because this song makes all of blackness happy. I, too, really love you, and you should know, that if you get confused doing the Electric Slide trying to get your turns right while “Before I Let Go” is playing you should go sit down somewhere...for the culture.

I don’t remember hearing this for the first time and I’m sure you don’t either. It’s been a presence in my life, though, for as long as I can remember and has become more significant, especially as I’ve gotten older. I look forward to being in my mid-to late-60s wearing white linen and fresh Stacy Adams out for a trip every Sunday to Popeye’s or Olive Garden while driving down the street bumping MAZE featuring Frankie Beverly because I was raised right.

And because I’m of the hip-hop generation, you know and I know that I’ll be bumping that Beyoncé remix as well but will always make sure to pay homage to the original by running them back-to-back.


So, before I let you go, thank you for joining me on this black musical odyssey.