This year, Black Music Month takes a different turn. Because of the horrific deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and more, we at Billboard hope to uplift and empower African Americans during this cloudy and dubious time. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for the remainder of the month, an artist will provide a playlist designed to remedy the heartaches endured by the Black community.
Following the release of their infectious “Count Me In” single earlier this week (June 17), THEY. serves as the latest artist to contribute to Billboard‘s Black Music Month 2020 series. The R&B duo encapsulates the Black experience living in America with their Juneteenth playlist, which features cuts from Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Michael Jackson, OutKast, Kanye West and the late Bill Withers.
“Growing up, my parents would never miss a music awards show. Grammys, Soul Train Awards, it didn’t matter what it was, you could guarantee that they would be in front of our TV taking it all in,” Dante and Drew relay in a statement. “One day I asked them why they were so enamored with these types of ceremonies. My dad thought for a second and replied, ‘Outside of sports this is the only time we get to see this many black people on TV, especially in a positive light.'”
“Unfortunately, this still rings true today,” THEY. continues. “Each generation of black people has been dealt a new variation of the same hand. Every labored step forward is met with a new set of problems while oppression and cultural appropriation continue to manifest themselves in new ways. But one thing you could never take away from us was our voice, our expression, our means of channeling our experiences, our pain in ways that the whole world can relate to and be inspired by. Our music has covered a lot of the different aspects of the black experience, the good and the bad.”
“Drew and I don’t take this opportunity lightly, and we know that when we make music or give an interview, it’s not just about us,” Jones adds. “It’s about the next generation that is looking to us as an example of what a young black kid can aspire to be, despite whatever circumstances they may come from. We are blessed to continue to do what we love, while doing our part in the ever-changing climate that we are in.”
Stream the playlist via Spotify below.