A lexical mixtape
From Big Band to Big Sean, a history of American popular music is very much a history of Black music. It’s also, in so many ways, a history of slang.
Consider one of slang’s greatest hits: cool. This catch-all for “excellent”—today as common as Cardi B on the Hot 100—was spread by hip-hop’s forerunners, jazz artists, in the 1940s.
June is African-American Music Appreciation Month, also known as Black Music Month. It’s a time to commemorate the continuing legacy of Black music on American life, and, for our part, we’re celebrating the lingo, spanning Louis Armstrong’s blues to City Girl’s drip, that Black musicians helped take platinum in our lexicon.
And, you can listen along! In partnership with Universal Music Group’s urban catalog imprint: Urban Legends, we are featuring Black artists whose music helped popularize a lot of our slang terms in the past century.
Words plus beats? That’s our jam.