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The Black Aesthetic Archive

The Black Aesthetic: Scarface Talks Reparations and Resistance

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Scarface, a former member of Houston's Geto Boys, has never shied away from politically charged songs. Instead of submitting to the power structure, Scarface seems to be saying, you should empower yourself, learning Black history to create a sense of self-awareness.

The Black Aesthetic: Redemption and Rescue in Jacob Banks’ “Unholy War” and “Chainsmoking”

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Jacob Banks’ latest EP The Boy Who Cried Freedom explores redemption and rescue.

The Black Aesthetic: Teenage Angst and Grown Woman Insecurity in SZA’s Ctrl

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SZA’s debut studio album, Ctrl, impresses fans with her lyrical honesty. In a lengthy and confessional letter to Drew Barrymore, SZA wrote how Drew’s movies Poison Ivy and Never Been Kissed shaped her and eased her anxiety “about being awkward and having crooked teeth.”

The Black Aesthetic: Salvation and Deliverance in Jimi Hendrix’s “Hear My Train A Comin'” and “Purple Haze”

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Forty-seven years ago, in the month of September, the legendary blues rock singer Jimi Hendrix died. When Hendrix passed away suddenly from an unintentional drug overdose at the age of twenty-seven, he was at the peak of his musical career.

The Black Aesthetic: Money Talks in Jay-Z’s 4.44

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Jay-Z’s latest album 4.44 rejects racial transcendence, while promoting Black business ingenuity. Although Jay-Z acknowledges America’s capitalistic history of enslavement and the tragic stories associated with Black celebrity, he promotes Black ownership as the dominant means for authentic financial freedom in America.

The Black Aesthetic: Lyrical Dominance in Kendrick Lamar’s Damn

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Kendrick Lamar’s latest album Damn maintains his position as the most profound rap lyricist alive. With songs such as “DNA” Kendrick asserts his Black male dominance despite the media’s emphasis on Black male inferiority.

The Black Aesthetic: Guns & Execution in TI’s Us or Else

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In his latest album Us or Else: Letter to the System, T.I. exposes America's obsession with guns, questions the senseless killings of African American men by both blacks and whites, and the imminent need for social retribution.

The Black Aesthetic: Death, Mourning, and Celebration in Prince’s “Sometimes It Snows in April” and “Let’s Go Crazy”

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When Prince Rogers Nelson died on April 21, 2016, his fans were shook by his untimely death. Many wondered if Prince himself foresaw the specter of death in his midst. The black and white movie Under the Cherry Moon (1986), directed by Prince, may have foreshadowed his April death.

The Black Aesthetic: Sexuality in Beyoncé’s Grammy Award Winning Lemonade

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When Beyoncé dropped her masterpiece Lemonade last year, the world was abuzz. In her groundbreaking visual album, images of black femaleness manifest as not only sexually pleasing to imagine, but empowering to behold.

The Black Aesthetic: Musical Revolution in Childish Gambino’s Awaken, My Love!

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Lay back as you listen to Awaken, My Love! by Childish Gambino, and thoughts of social turmoil will disturb your rest. Amid his poetic verses are allusions to metaphorical monsters that call to mind police violence, marches, and riots.