You know how every so often the alleged literati (I say alleged because the literati meeting place [Facebook] is filled with ignoramuses of the highest order) of the Black community get into a pseudo-discussion about what constitutes a Black movie? Is it a Black movie if it has Black people, the back of Forest Whitakers neck, and black pepper in it? Or is it just a regular movie that just so happens to have Black people in it(like say Medicine for Melancholy), perhaps providing a Black perspective and worldview to otherwise mundane activities of daily living (like say Medicine for Melancholy)? Kind of like VSB. I'm not sure that VSB is a "Black site" though the inclusion of Brothas in our nom-de-plume kind of taints this debate I'm having with myself. For the most part though, we're a bunch of coloreds waxing philosophical about life and its intricacies and because most of us are indeed Black, the lens we observe from and the voice with which we speak tends to be more Blacker the berry than white on rice. So we're Black without being a Black fist, if that makes any sense. It might not. But you've read this far, why stop now?
What we are is unapologetically Black - niggas is a beautiful thing, after all - but aside from specific posts that are intended to be about the Black experience, much of our catalog transcends race.
This is how I feel about much of hip-hop. I think hip-hop is Black despite the rest of the world playing the game. But most albums speak of the Black experience - as its supposed to be an exercise in reality, the Black CNN, as it were - without making me feel like "that was the Blackest thing I've felt in a long time". For instance, Public Enemy's "Fight The Power" is one Black ass song. Puffy's "Been Around The World"? Not so much. This is Black as fuck (see 4:10 mark). This? Not so much, its just music with Black folks at the helm.
However, there have been some hip-hop albums released that are Black fist all day long, b. Like you listen to them and you just feel like you listened to Frances Cress-Welsing give a lecture on conspiracy theories about white balls and inferiority. If you've ever had to sit through one of those…I'm sorry. Here are five of the Blackest ass hip-hop albums ever released.
1. Ice Cube - Death Certificate (1991)
This was the album where Ice Cube sounded the Blackest, most woke, not quite the angriest but well on his way, and most lyrically sound. With songs like "I Wanna Kill Sam","Horny Lil Devil", "Black Korea" and "True To The Game", in that order, he went in on the government, white women, Koreans, and sellouts. He left very few stones unturned on the second half of this album. I remember riding in the car with a friend of mine in 2005 listening to this album. This convo ensued:
Her: Who is this? Oh my God??!!!!
Me: Ice Cube. It his Death Certificiate album! Certified classic from the early 90s.
Her: If I was a white person, I'd be afraid of him.
Me: Sometimes I think that was the point. Too bad he got rich. He lost all of his passion once he started going to PTA meetings at his kids private school. I have no idea if thats true, but his album Lethal Injection is what happens when you get money, aren't angry anymore, and have kids in good schools.
Her: I'll never watch Are We There Yet? the same way again.
Add in the Nation of Islam angle though he swears he wasn't part of the Nation, and it is easily one of the Blackest albums ever recorded.
2. Mos Def - Black On Both Sides (1999)
There is no way to convince me that BOBS wasn't the mother of Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly (more on this album later). Easily one of my favorite albums of all time, BOBS opened up Black as fuck, stayed Black as fuck, got a tan, drank the sweet juice that was in the Black berries, then threw in rock 'n roll JUST to make the point that it's Blackness versus everybody. Shots at Elvis, samples from Fela Kuti, Roy Ayers, a song called "Rock N Roll", one of my favorite exercises in "even if you in a Benz, you still a nigga in a coupe" with the song, "Mr. Nigga". This album is the Black experience rolled up into a tidy ass package, complete with the conspiracy theory of "New World Water". I have no idea why there aren't college courses centered around this album. Mos Def was on his A-game lyrically. It was produced beautifully with odes to Black women ("Ms. Fat Booty") and the smart-dumb nigga favorite subject "Mathematics". If you couldn't feel Black and proud listening to this album, its probably because you're not Black. Or your old and he scares you. Also, even the acronym for the album - BOBS - also stands for Big Ole BootieS. Nothing gets Blacker than that. Mos Def for President.
3. Arrested Development - Zingalamaduni (1994)
It's entirely possible that you never heard this album. For good reason, Arrested Development was a niche group if ever there was one. Super positive, earthy crunchy, cheesy, patchouliticians, etc. I loved them though. Mostly for the production. Say what you want about Speech, the man was a great music producer. You don't know anybody who doesn't like "Tennessee". Even hard core rap niggas liked "Tennessee" because who can't enjoy a game of horsehoes, A GAME OF HORSESHOES?! But their second album Zingalamaduni fell on deaf ears. Speech got waaaaaaaaaaaay too preachy. Country cousins turned respectability politicians turn everybody off. That's not exactly what happened, but thats what this album sounded like. Be that as it may, it was FULL of the spirit of Africa. Usher said on VH1's I Love The 90s once that Arrested Development was whatever the "fist" represented…that was them. And its true. Unapologetically Black and full of the spirit of community and upliftment. They were about revolution and freedom and sundresses and Black banks and shit. Again, you probably haven't heard this, meanwhile I paid money for it. Because Blackness.
4. Digable Planets - Blowout Comb (1994)
Digable Planets was one of those groups that was the precursor to movies like Love Jones. They were the poem kids who ate salads and shit and talked about Black cool and enlightment on Reachin' (A New Refutation of Time and Space) - a Black ass title if ever there was one for the Five Percenter college set. Lots of words like "manifest" and shit. They weren't Arrested Development in depth at first. All that shit changed on Blowout Comb where they went straight Black Nationalist. Like real Black. When they dropped "9th Wonder (Blackitolism)" we knew it was a whole new ball game. If they could rap who knows what they would have accomplished. Also, they represent folks who moved to New York, and specifically Brooklyn who forgot that for the first 18-20 years of their life they weren't from Brooklyn, reppin like they were born and raised in the County of Kings. Basically, they were every Black person who ever moved to Brooklyn. On a different note, if you want to make a Black ass album, naming it Blowout Comb is a win. All day nigga.
5. Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp A Butterfly (2015)
The vast majority of commentary on Kendrick Lamar's sonically full sophomore album has been about how Black it is. From the mood to the tone to the styles to the composition. He covered every part of Blackness that one could imagine. Much has already been said about this so I won't reinvent the wheel here. Let's just say, To Pimp A Butterfly is the Blackest album I've heard in a long time. Fight the power. Had me ready to break out my Malcolm X hat and my shirt with Huey Newton sitting in the chair I can never seem to find at flea markets. And listen to Isaac Hayes. Five…on the Black hand side. Also, the album cover? As Black as Black can get.