June: The sixth month of the year, the summer solstice, the introduction to summer, the lucky month of marriage and the month with the most hours of daylight. As we look back at June, and continue to move through July, amid a global pandemic and a fight against injustice, we can’t forget, some of that daylight stems from the celebration of June itself being Pride month, Black Music Month and the month we celebrate Juneteenth.
Gay Pride month promotes the pride, self-affirmation, equality and observance of the LGBTQ community as a social group. Many events are held during the month of June in honor of the Stonewall riots which occurred June of 1969, recognizing the impact the LGBTQ community has had on the US.
Black Music Month, also known as African American Music Appreciation Month, was created by President Jimmy Carter in 1979, declaring that June will be the month to commemorate the influences black people have had on all genres of music.
As we wrap up the month of June, it is only right to honor the impactful voices in music that celebrate both Pride and Black Music Month. Some amazing black LGBTQ artists were brave enough to come forward and share their truth and music with the world. In this month’s long cultural observance, LyricFind, a lyric licensing company, used data from their syndication service to highlight the most popular lyrics from notable black LGBTQ artists, including Frank Ocean, Janelle Monae, iLoveMakonnen, MNEK and Kehlani. The world’s leader in licensed lyrics solutions, LyricFind is trusted by some of the biggest names in the industry, including Amazon, Google, YouTube, Deezer, Microsoft, Soundhound, iHeartRadio and many others.
The Black LGBTQ voice in music is widely appreciated and respected, as many people have a hard time coming to acceptance, especially within an industry often filled with judgement. Artists like Frank Ocean and Kehlani’s music are sometimes geared toward different genders, creating normality. Janelle Monae uses her music to amplify her voice on sexual fluidity, noting that she wants young girls, boys and queer people who are having a hard time dealing with their sexuality, to be themselves and know that they are noticed. MNEK and iLoveMakonnen bring a sense of encouragement and representation to queer black men.
The top viewed lyrics of these artists for the month of June coincide with their bravery and notable careers. Frank Ocean’s list includes, “Chanel”, “Godspeed”, “Ivy”, “Nights” and “Self Control”. “Chanel”, pushes the boundaries with lyrics relating to his sexuality and his encounters as a black man with the police.
“My guy pretty like a girl
And he got fight stories to tell
I see both sides like Chanel
See on both sides like Chanel”
“Police think I’m of the underworld
12 treat a nigga like he 12″
Janelle Monae’s top viewed lyrics are songs including, “I Like That”, “Make Me Feel”, “Tightrope”, “Pynk” and “Django Jane”. Monae touches on her fluidity in “I Like That” and “Make Me Feel”, coming off as subtle in her lyrics but also revealing. She says in “I Like That”,
“Told the whole world, I’m the venom and the antidote
Take a different type of girl to keep the whole world afloat”
Suggesting the balance in her maintaining a level of secrecy with her sexuality and destroying people’s perception of what her music may be, telling the world she is versatile. In the “Make Me Feel” video, she plays on the idea of bisexuality by covering herself in pink and blue lights.
“Django Jane”, a very touching song about a black woman’s identity, is seen through the lyrics.
“Remember when they said I look too mannish.
Black Girl Magic, yall can’t stand it”
This highlights the ongoing mistreatment toward black women. Black Girl Magic, stands to help black women rise above that.
ILoveMakonnen’s top viewed lyrics are from songs, “Tuesday”, “I’m Not Okay”, “I Don’t Sell Molly No More”, “Trust Me Danny” and “Spendin’”. MNEK’s list includes, “Colour”, “At Night” (I Think About You), “Tongue”, “The Rhythm” and “Paradise”.
R&B artist Kehlani’s top viewed lyrics are from songs, “Toxic”, “Nights Like This”, “Gangsta”, “All Me” and “Everybody Business”. Kehlani interchanges the gender of her love interest in different songs. In “Nights Like This”, she addresses a girl, on the outro saying “You gon’ get my hopes high girl” but on “All Me”, she addresses a guy, “When you see him, know that’s all me”
Although Pride and Black Music Month is over, let’s not forget to keep honoring the courageous individuals not only in the music industry, but in your community, whose bravery has paved the way for others. Let’s continue to appreciate black music and the artists who use their voice diligently.