The future is now! This week with Apple Music’s celebration of Black History Month, we’re looking at artists that represent the future — which means a lot of artists that are active and trendy. The older generations typically look at the youngest generation as a bunch of ‘kids’ who ‘don’t know what they’re doing or saying,’ but Apple Music is here to promote music that proves them wrong. Besides, who is the future really for? To Apple Music, the artists featured this week represent the new leaders, and are a preview of what empowerment is going to look like in the future. This week, we have seven categories to explore: Featured Short Film, Featured Guest Playlists, Artists to Know, Key Albums, Songs to Hear, Essentials, and Watch More.
Featured Short Film
This week’s film, entitled “Black History Month: Future Generation,” was directed by Sean Frank and runs at 2:33 in length. It features Justen Leroy, Kristen Gordon, Idman, and Chris Focus both in the film visually and narrating in the background. The four of them are playing a very popular game for this generation, which is referred to as multiple things: playground parachute, trap the mouse, mushroom — the one where multiple people lift up a tarp to create something that resembles a tent, and you try to run unexpectedly underneath it before your peers trap you. It is a very cute and reminiscent visual in contrast to the extremely deep narrative. The four artists featured in the film praise the younger generation for being the new leaders, having the agency to shape the world the way we want it to be, and for learning from the mistakes of past generations. This is the most connected I have felt to an Apple Music short film so far, given my love for this generation and my belief that we will be the ones to finally make a huge difference in the way this world works.
Featured Guest Playlists
We have five new playlists in addition to last week’s. All of them — by Apple Music, Nija, Willie Jones, Pink Sweat$, and Willow Smith — are entitled Future Generations. My favorite of this list is Pink Sweat$’s playlist because it contains a lot of songs I love, like “No Role Modelz” by J. Cole, “Godspeed” by Frank Ocean, “Save Your Tears” by the Weeknd, as well as his song, “At My Worst.” There are even some older songs on this playlist, like “You Rock My World” and “Butterflies” by Michael Jackson, and “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” by Whitney Houston, which I really appreciated alongside this week’s theme. An essential part of the future is remembering the past and embracing nostalgia. To me, Jackson and Houston are artists we will never forget, so it makes sense that they landed in a playlist all about the future.
Artists to Know
This week is full of artists that are probably very familiar to fellow students: H.E.R., Chloe x Halle, Megan Thee Stallion, and Kehlani, for example. The rest of the artists are similarly active, but perhaps not as well-known. My favorite from these new-to-me artists is Tems. She is a Nigerian artist; I appreciate finally hearing from a non-American or non-Candian. Her album, For Broken Ears, is an R&B/Soul release from 2020, and it’s one that I can see myself vibing to when I want to relax after a stressful day. If you want a specific song to start with, I would recommend “Ice T;” it is, after listening to the album twice, my favorite as of now.
Right off the bat, Nightmare Vacation by Rico Nasty stuck out to me in this category. I am very familiar with this album, having played “IPHONE” first thing in the morning (what a way to wake up) for a good couple of months in a row. Rico Nasty’s music is kind of aggressive and very bad—ss, which is right up my alley. If you’re looking for something calmer, though, The Art of Conversation by Bellah is a very lovely, Contemporary R&B album that I’ve found is perfect background noise for studying.
Songs to Hear
The only song familiar to me on this list is “Buss It” by Erica Banks — which, yes, is the song TikTok users made into a challenge. While exploring the other songs in this list, I found that there were a few I appreciated from a lyrical perspective: “how will Ii rest in peace if i’m buried by a highway?//” by KennyHoopla was one of them. At first, I did not like the song at all; his voice threw me off, being really raspy and sounding strained. However, the lyrics kept me hooked enough for me to realize that I really like the instrumentals, and that his voice is actually kind of nice once you’re prepared for it. I was intrigued enough to check out his other songs, and he is good. Apple Music chose a great song for this subcategory to introduce him to new listeners.
I commend Apple Music for placing the late Juice WRLD’s essential songs first in this category. Despite his death just over a year ago, we’re still met with the music he left behind to represent the future of Black artistry. I won’t lie and say I’m a fan of Juice WRLD (though I do know a good number of his songs — I can thank my baby brother for that), but I appreciate that Apple Music is not forgetting about an artist who would have represented the future if not for his untimely death. He was only 21 when he passed, and I can recognize, through his music, how much potential he had to become an iconic artist. Perhaps Apple Music’s inclusion of him is a sign that he is and will continue to be remembered as a groundbreaking rapper.
Most of the videos featured this week involve artists featured throughout the subcategories of this week talking about their music. There is a 13-minute video of Rico Nasty talking about Nightmare Vacation, for example. My favorite video this week was the ‘odd man out,’ thematically; “Over It” with Summer Walker and Ari Lennox is a casual talk between two women about social issues or philosophical topics that they are tired of. It is funny and relatable, as I agreed with a lot of what they said. It runs at only eight minutes in length, given that it is a preview of a longer woman-to-woman talk, and I definitely wanted to watch more. Regardless, it was a great way to laugh off a couple days of the new module.
Thus, we’ve reached the end of Apple Music’s celebration of Black History Month. I’m very bummed out to have to end this mini-series, but, on the brighter side, my music library is fuller than it’s ever been. This month-long celebration has introduced me and plenty of other Apple Music users to an abundance of fantastic music and deep ideas to ponder as we carried on listening to everything in these subcategories. I think the organization of this was beautiful. There was so much symbolism throughout the month — starting with mothers, moving on to families (whether born into or found), and ending with a beautiful blend of the present and the future. Apple Music introduced pressing issues within the Black community and provided listeners with songs that represented each of these social injustices — proving that music does speak to politics, despite the continual discreditation of song-writing as a form of activism. Black voices need to be heard; music is a beautiful way of ensuring that happens.
Featured Photo Courtesy of @seanfrank_ via Instagram