The Student News Site of San Luis Obispo High School




The Student News Site of San Luis Obispo High School



Kwanzaa Mix ’15


Though Christmas and Hannukah may reign supreme in popularity over other seasonal holidays, the tradition of Kwanzaa is an often overlooked celebration that can lead to an enriching cultural experience. Check out Expressions’ top choices for your very own Kwanzaa playlists to celebrate the season a little differently.


“Family Business” – Kanye West

West may have garnered a negative stigma around his blunt and seemingly rude persona in recent years, but if there’s one thing Kanye is, it’s real. This classic from West’s first album evokes fond memories of sitting around the dinner table with family home for the holidays—the embodiment of Kwanzaa itself.


“Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright” – Billy Paul

With his soulful rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright”, Billy Paul spices up what was originally a slow, acoustic, and overall boring song with livelier instrumentals, faster lyrics, and raw passion to make for an exciting experience. Similarly, Kwanzaa takes the place of the tedious and overdone holiday of Christmas and makes the holiday season fresh, new, and exciting again.


“Dream A Little Dream Of Me” – Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong

This timeless classic, recorded in 1955, combined the talents of the arguably finest female jazz singer of all time with the single most influential musician in jazz history. Based off of such high profile names alone, “Dream A Little Dream” is an integral part of any Kwanzaa playlist.

“Sunday Candy” – Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment

As an up and coming artist, Chance the Rapper has taken the hip-hop game by the neck with an array of clever lyrics, skilled production, and a personal touch of soul. As part of a project with his band The Social Experiment, this track seamlessly blends elements of R&B, gospel singing, and contemporary rap, cornerstones in the history of Black American music.


“Nothing Can Change This Love” – Sam Cooke

As the inventor of soul music, it’s no surprise to see Sam Cooke on any playlist celebrating black musicians. Cooke sweetly caresses his listeners’ ears with a smooth, yet touching, display of vocal mastery, making this track simply a pleasure to listen to.


“Real Good Hands” – Gregory Porter

Despite his status as a relatively new singer, Porter earns his place among the greats of jazz, soul, and gospel singers with this heartwarming track. “Real Good Hands” makes for a real good song to accompany any Kwanzaa dinner or event.


“Beautiful Girls” – Sean Kingston

While mention of Sean Kingston may have slowed to a trickle since 2010, the beautiful melody of “Beautiful Girls” may never leave us. With reggae-inspired vocals, the auto tune of new-century pop, and a catchy hip-hop beat…well, good luck trying to get this one out of your head.


“Dear Mama” – Tupac

Known as the martyr of gangsta rap, no Kwanzaa mix would be complete without mention of Tupac Shakur. Whereas many of his “harder” songs detail darker themes such as gang violence, “Dear Mama” is a tribute to his mother that tugs on the heartstrings. This track reminds us to all show some appreciation to our parents and family this Kwanzaa season.


“Heaven” – John Legend

If John Legend’s multiple Grammys and Academy Awards didn’t convince you enough already of his truly legendary skill, this track will. “Heaven” makes a callback to the gospel choirs Legend sang with as a child, while mixing it with his now mature, refined voice and a modern beat to create a combination that can only be described as heavenly.


“Lisa Sawyer” – Leon Bridges

Though Leon Bridges is the newest talent to make this year’s Kwanzaa playlist, you wouldn’t guess it by listening to him. With a style reminiscent of 60’s soul, he draws comparisons to the likes of Sam Cooke and Otis Redding. In this ballad about his own mother, he perfectly captures the tone of a happy, loving family—that’s all I want for Kwanzaa this year.


“Everyday People” – Sly & The Family Stone

Sly Stone deserves credit for more than just his unique fusion soul, rock, R&B, psychedelia, and funk, but for breaking down barriers within the music industry. As the first fully integrated group in rock history, comprised of both men and women and of blacks and whites, The Family Stone shows us the true meaning of Kwanzaa: love, acceptance, and understanding. Regardless of race or other differences, we truly are all just “Everyday People”.

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