Genesis Owusu Shares a Playlist Filled With Timeless Gems for Black History Month
In celebration of Black History Month, EDITION enlisted the aid of Black artists across all music genres to curate playlists comprised of songs that have connected with them the most. Each record they’ve chosen highlights fellow artists they’ve grown to appreciate over the years alongside their thoughts on the impact the tunes have on their artistry and lives.
We kick things off with ARIA Music Award-winning rapper Genesis Owusu.
At the end of last year, "Gold Chains,” the single from his critically-praised debut album Smiling With No Teeth was included on Obama’s Favorite Music of 2021. The Ghanian-Australian lyricist recently made his U.S. late-night TV debut on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and will hit the road in March for his first-ever North American headline tour.
Listen to Owusu’s picks below and read on for the inspiration behind his curated soundtrack.
“Runaway” - Ye (formally known as Kanye West)
Kanye is many things, good and bad. One of those things is he is undoubtedly one of the most impactful artists ever. That's on a cultural level, as well as just for me personally. His artistry, versatility, and ferocity is something that's in my DNA at this point, whether I like it or not.
“Run To The Sun” - N.E.R.D.
Pharrell and N.E.R.D. are a huge centerpiece when it comes to what I do musically. Why was rap/R&B pretty boi producer Pharrell fronting a rock band with anime/skater stylings? And why did it work so well? Boundary breaking, culture shaking stuff.
“Pink Matter” - Frank Ocean (feat. André 3000)
Frank and Andre are two incredible examples of an artist's life on their own terms. Andre was THE guy breaking the boundaries of what a hip-hop artist should and can be, and Frank, in his reserved and introverted nature, showed us that we can win without having to become influencers and TMZ fodder.
“Don't Touch My Hair” - Solange
I've always loved the cultural symbols of global blackness, from kente cloth to gold grills, jollof rice to durags, even though a lot of the time, certain popular perspectives have skewed these symbols under the labels of “ghetto" and "rachet.” Solange has the most beautiful talent of putting authentic blackness into the most graceful light. Songs like “Don't Touch My Hair” feel like they're slapping racists in the face, but with a lace glove.
“Thieves in the Night” - Black Star
Quintessential hip-hop, courtesy of Kweli and Yasiin Bey (fka Mos Def). This was one of the songs I heard when I was younger that made me question why we were still learning about crusty-ass Victorian poets in English class instead of the powerful ones that were living and breathing today. I studied this song long and hard and aspired to pack that much meaning and depth into a track one day.
“A Love Supreme, Pt. I - Acknowledgement” - John Coltrane
I was first introduced to Coltrane when Lupe Fiasco sampled this track; weirdly, I love Lupe and Coltrane for completely opposite reasons. While Lupe is one of the world's best and most complex lyricists, Coltrane is a master craftsman, able to teleport you to a place that doesn't exist without having to utter a word.
“Zombie” - Fela Kuti, Africa 70
An African giant. A huge force whether he was on stage or at a podium. Also the only artist I've ever known to have a whole army sent after him, which is a pretty big accomplishment.
“Accordion” - Madvillain (Madlib & MF DOOM)
One of the biggest reasons I was able to get comfortable and confident rapping was because there was a period where all the verses I wrote were trying to emulate MF DOOM. The way he put words together was ridiculous and backed by Madlib beats, the music was otherworldly. ‘Madvillainy’ was also one of my first and favorite concept albums, and now I don't think I want to put out an album that isn't a concept album.
“Fall In Love (Your Funeral)” - Erykah Badu
The queen of neo-soul, fashion icon, master teacher.
“Waitin' on Ya” - Genesis Owusu
I was asked to pick a song of my own that resonated the most to me, which is damn near impossible, but I chose this because I feel like it achieves so much artistically in one track. From the weird, esoteric talkbox spoken word intro, to the rich but somewhat restrained production, to the fact that this song is sexy as hell, but it's all a metaphor for depression's grip on a person. Some of my strongest work, in my opinion.
“Maggot Brain” - Funkadelic
Probably the best guitar piece ever. Whether they knew it or not, everything Funkadelic achieved was to the benefit of black weirdos everywhere.