Performers from different genres composed new tracks, while others recorded cover songs for the second annual “Juneteenth 2022: Freedom Songs” playlist, which launches Friday on the streaming platform. The playlist releases more than a week before the annual holiday – also known as Emancipation Day and Freedom Day – that commemorates when the last enslaved African Americans learned about their freedom on June 19.
“Music is the tie that binds our Black experience in the U.S. and the world,” said Ebro Darden, global head of hip-hop and R&B at Apple Music. “Being able to create covers and original music with artists from all genres of music is the perfect way to continue to celebrate the Black experience and continue our collective work for true freedom.”
The 16-song playlist also features reggae-dancehall singer Kranium, gospel singer Koryn Hawthorne and Latin rapper-singer Eladio Carrion.
Fiasco said he wanted to take a different approach in creating the original song “Galveston” for the playlist.
“I try to make things that establish emotion and utility so that not only can people feel it, but they can actually do something with it,” said the Grammy-winning rapper. “There’s only so much utility you can have in music, but it all boils back down to education and instruction. ‘Galveston’ is about taking Juneteenth, which is normally a celebration of a very specific set of events — the manumission from slavery of Black folks — and approaching it from a different angle."
Bun B performs the original track “This is What We Do (June 19th)” featuring Jack Freeman, and Spencer made her own song “More Than Perfect.” 6LACK covers Mos Def’s classic “Umi Says,” Hawthorne takes on Smokie Norful’s “I Need You Now,” Kranium does Dennis Brown’s “Revolution," SEB performs Chance the Rapper’s “Paranoia” and Alex Isley covers “We Are One,” a song by Maze featuring Frankie Beverly.
“I am a daughter, I’m a mother, I’m a friend," said Isley, the daughter Ernie Isley of the soul group the Isley Brothers. "So, just practicing gratitude. I think that’s a big part of Juneteenth: the gratitude and celebration of who we are and the pride of that and the beauty and the richness of our culture and our power.”
Other artists on the playlist include Cautious Clay, Damien Sneed, Denzel Curry, Elena Pinderhughes, Jlin, Moliy and WSTRN.