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Black Excellence in the Music Industry

Black Excellence in the Music Industry

In honor of black history month, we are taking the time to honor black excellence in music. So many black artists have shaped the music industry in so many ways. From choosing to be independent, creating their own music stream and gaining complete creative control.

Listed below are 10 black artists who have helped change the music industry.


Jay Z launched Tidal in 2014. Tidal pay’s the highest percentage of royalties to music artists and songwriters, within the music streaming market. When it comes to other streaming sites, the artist isn’t paid a high percentage, and Jay-Z got some of the biggest names in the industry to jump on his tidal wave. This was such a major part of the music industry.


Beyoncé performs at the Mrs. Carter Show World Tour, 2013 (Photo: Rob Hoffman)

King B!  What hasn’t Beyonce did to help change the music Industry? From being a part power couple, and married to one of the hottest rappers in the game, to paving the way and showcasing real girl power in the industry. From her all-girl band to dropping albums overnight, Queen B has paved the way for so many African American women in music.


Prince Performing at Grammys
(AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian, File)

American singer-songwriter, Prince, was a remarkably talented musician that first captured the world’s attention with his numerous album releases in the 1980s. His music is recognized all over the globe, and Rock, Blues and Jazz have taken a part in influencing it.

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson (Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

How has Michael Jackson not impacted black music, is the question. I mean, he is the king of POP! Michael paved the way for so many of today’s artist with the legacy he left behind. Another key point is he was one of the few in his time, to be a complete entertainer. He was a songwriter, a great singer, and a dancer. Michael’s perfectionism is a benchmark used for any dancer, even today.

Ray Charles


Ray Charles found crossover success in the late ‘50s with hits like “What’d I Say,” earning him enough to sign a deal with ABC, that granted him an unprecedented degree of creative control over his output, during a time when most successful black artists were completely controlled by their labels. If that wasn’t enough, his first project became a staple for the soul and country stations.

Bob Marley

Bob Marley photographed by Benjamin Njoku

An internationally acclaimed musician, who touched the hearts of millions across the globe with his powerful reggae, Bob Marley’s presence in the music industry was near unsurpassed in terms of inspiration.

Marvin Gaye

Marvin Gaye

Gaye became one of the first Motown artists to wrestle creative control away from the label with his 1971 album What’s Going On, a landmark in socially-conscious music that precipitated a wave of politically-charged soul music. As a matter of fact, his bold act of defiance paid off big, and the same year Gaye re-signed with the Motown label for a $1 million contract, then, the most lucrative deal ever offered to a black recording artist.

Public Enemy

Public Enemy photographed by David Corio/Redferns

Public Enemy was among the first acts to bring hip-hop music to broader attention, and they managed it without ever compromising an ounce of their incendiary political messaging. Their most powerful statement to this day is from one of their singles “Fight the Power”. The song aimed to give young black Americans in the turbulent, politically conservative ‘80s, a civil rights movement of their own. It’s still remembered as one of hip-hop’s greatest tracks.


(Photo: Courtesy of TNS)

It was simply by living what he spoke about – and speaking about what was real. Furthermore, making an impact not only on the music industry as well as on society. To this day, there has not been anyone like him.

Kanye West

Kanye West photographed by Scott Dudelson/FilmMagic

When we think of Kanye, sometimes we think of the hip-hop artist who speaks his mind. From speaking his mind, a majority of the time, it doesn’t quite rub everyone the right way. You can’t deny the fact that he has changed the standards of hip-hop, his impact is indisputable and he helped repopularize soul sampling in rap.

There you have it. There is numerous black artist that have contributed to the excellence of music. Are there any artist that you feel contributed as well? If so, let us know who and why below in the comments. Happy Black History Month!


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