Honor the pioneers
21 iconic shots for Black History Month
Ray Charles: What’d he say? He melded R&B, jazz, gospel and country into this thing called soul, and the musical landscape (including “America the Beautiful”) was never the same.
Miles Davis: No meaner man with a trumpet has graced the sonic pathways of existence; his radical departure from traditional jazz opened up the frontiers of fusion, and the rest is history.
Sean Combs: Puff Daddy, Puffy, P. Diddy, Sean John—whatever he calls himself, it stands for serious entrepreneurial savvy. The power behind Biggie. Nuff said.
Run DMC: Hollis, Queens’ groundbreaking hip-hop group put rap on the map for the MTV generation and rode their success all the way to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Bob Marley: A “poet and a prophet,” as the Red Hot Chili Peppers say, he brought international awareness to reggae music and became a household name in the process.
2Pac: Born to play the part, his deep thoughtfulness, undeniable talent and taste for the notorious combined to put him on top of the same rap game that put him under all too soon.
Jimi Hendrix: Extreme feedback? Check. Devastating, one-of-a-kind electric blues riffs? Check. Guitar on fire? Check. Psychedelic Woodstock National Anthem? Check...
Beyoncé: The original 21st-century power diva broke big with Destiny’s Child and broke even bigger solo, showing the world that in the right hands, talent + dreams = unstoppable.
Etta James: Only gaining mainstream recognition late in her career, she was among the first to bridge R&B and pop, charting hits including her signature classic, “At Last.”
Michael Jackson: The quintessential modern-day song-and-dance man, who raised the bar on international pop fame to a place few will ever touch—all while dancing backward to go forward.
BB King: He and Lucille have been waking up this morning and finding the thrill gone for well over 60 years, but for us the thrill REMAINS, yes it does.
Prince: Without this musical genius, who would have helped white chicks in the '80s get in touch with their funky side? His Revolution continues today with “Screw Driver.”
Lauryn Hill: After this one-time Fugee left the camp, her post-Wyclef “Miseducation” gave her the degree of power she needed to sing out and speak out on her own terms.
Snoop Dogg: Whether Dogg or “Lion,” he leaned in from the LBC in the ’80s with a Dr. Dre-produced breakout and a sticky-icky style that ruled the West Side and beyond.
Aretha Franklin: The one and only Queen of Soul taught us about R-E-S-P-E-C-T, whether dealing with a Chain of Fools or driving on a Freeway of Love.
Jill Scott: A gifted singer with extraordinary range who, with fellow practitioners like Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill, helped take the luscious fusion of neo-soul mainstream.
Kanye West: Intellectual enough to make his volatility an asset, this ace producer and College Dropout quickly made his way to The Throne once he decided to spit.
Salt-N-Pepa: The first female hip-hop group to “Push It” to Platinum status, their big-time party raps and sex rhymes helped open doors for everyone from Queen Latifah to Lil Kim.
James Brown: The Hardest Working Man in Show Business brought us the funk and threw off the cape, elevating the art of the stage show to previously unknown heights.
Jay-Z: Rapper. Businessman. Institution. He didn’t just climb the ladder—he pretty much invented it. Also probably the only dude fly enough to “put a ring on it” with Beyoncé.
Barry White: The deepest of love-man voices, he whipped soul and disco into a sumptuous funk he called Love Unlimited. His “Never Gonna Give You Up” is waaay different from Rick Astley’s.
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