Juneteenth commemorates the day that African-American slaves in Galveston, Texas learned of their emancipation.
John Legend vs. Alicia Keys: What We Want to See from Juneteenth ‘Verzuz’
During the coronavirus quarantine, people had to get creative to occupy their time and not go crazy with cabin fever.
One of the greatest revelations during the coronavirus pandemic is the creation of “Verzuz” by legendary music producers, Swizz Beatz and Timbaland.
We’ve gotten the gospel “Verzuz” with Fred Hammond and Kirk Franklin.
Hip-hop heads got a “Verzuz” featuring Nelly and Ludacris.
R&B fans even got a classic matchup of Teddy Riley vs. Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds.
Now, R&B music fans will get a woke “Verzuz” with Alicia Keys and John Legend today.
Sure, Keys and Legend have their share of love songs, and hopefully fans get some of those classics.
But it would not be right to have a “Verzuz” on Juneteenth without some songs with political and/or social messages.
Juneteenth, or Emancipation Day, commemorates June 19, 1865; when African-American slaves in Galveston, Texas found out that they were free from bondage.
Many African-Americans refer to Juneteenth as their Independence Day, not July 4.
Therefore, Juneteenth is the perfect day for an epic “Verzuz.”
But what songs will fans hear today?
Here is the playlist that the RegalMag.com staff would like to see on today’s “Verzuz.”
“Verzuz” is a live social media music battle between two music legends.
“Glory” by John Legend and Common—The death of George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks has really shown America that not much has changed since the Civil Rights Movement. Common and John Legend made that clear years ago on the “Selma” soundtrack weaving stories of the Civil Rights Movement with protests in Ferguson, Mo. after the death of Michael Brown.
“Underdog” by Alicia Keys—Alicia Keys lives a life of luxury like many celebrities. However, she knows how to inspire the have-nots. Although times appear rough for many people during the coronavirus pandemic and the current racial climate, “Underdog” will hit home now because Keys promises people that they will rise up and overcome their obstacles. Keys sings, “So I sing a song for the hustlers trading at the bus stop, Single mothers waiting on a check to come, Young teachers, student doctors, Sons on the frontline knowing they don’t get to run, This goes out to the underdog, Keep on keeping at what you love, You’ll find that someday soon enough, You will rise up, rise up…”
“Wake Up Everyday”—Not too many singers can cover a Teddy Pendergrass classic. Tyrese comes to mind and obviously John Legend. Unfortunately, “Wake Up Everybody” by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes never goes out of style. That is because the world will never be perfect. On the song, Legend and Pendergrass warn that the world will not get any better, if we just let it be. The problem with race relations in America is many people falsely believed that things would get better if we just stopped talking about systemic racism. Although that is not true, this generation seems willing to have those uncomfortable conversations so that the world can get better.
“Good Job” by Alicia Keys—Alicia Keys’ latest single “Good Job” is the perfect anthem for people working on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic. The song speaks to the unsung heroes who really keep society going despite not getting much recognition and/or adulation. In the song, Keys encourages those hidden figures to keep moving even though the road gets tough. Keys sings, “The world needs you now, Know that you matter.”
“Hard Times” by John Legend and The Roots—What should people expect from a collaboration between John Legend and The Roots? People should expect great musicianship and a great message. “Hard Times” deals with a man experiencing hard times in a crazy town. He looks for love but there is no love to be found. He also sings about the crabs in the bucket mentality. Legend meets a brother. But instead of the brother helping him, the corrupt brother holds him up instead.
“Superwoman” by Alicia Keys—Alicia Keys has not only made songs urging racial unity, she has also championed feminist messages via her music with songs such as “Superwoman.” The song is influential to women struggling with day-to-day trials of tribulations. But even when women are a mess, they still have an “S” on their chest because they are superheroes.
“Our Generation” by John Legend and The Roots—The first verse of “Our Generation” says it all. Legend sings, “Hope of the world is in our generation (let’s straighten it out), It’s all left up to us to change the present situation (let’s straighten it out), Take caution from our elders, don’t make the same mistake (let’s straighten it out), Let’s fill the world with love, and get rid of the hate, Our elders taught us one thing but practice another, Just look at what happened to the Indian and the brother.” The previous generation thought that they had solved the race problem. In 2008, America even boasted of having a post-racial society. But in order to solve the race problem, Americans have to solve the hate problem with love for her fellow man.
“Powerful” by Empire Cast featuring Jussie Smollett and Alicia Keys—Many people often wonder what would Malcolm X or Martin Luther King, Jr. think of the world if they came back from the dead? In “Powerful,” Keys and Smollett boldly claim that Malcolm is probably turning over in his grave at the state of the world and the African-American community. Released in 2015, “Powerful” still resonates today because the lyrics are emblematic of the determination of Black Lives Matter activists. People are not just standing here in silence. “Powerful” also speaks to a colorful future where skin color does not define any human.