I'm Diggin' You Like An Old Soul Record

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Soul music has continuously been used over the years to express the cultural identity, the consciousness, and the power of the Black people. The genre has changed its aesthetic over the years with the advancement of technology, production techniques and musical elements from the contemporary world (Burnim & Maultsby, 2015). In spite of the change, soul music remains the gateway to highlighting issues affecting African Americans. Many African-American artists have delved into Black power through their soul songs. For example, Erykah Badu’s Soldier highlights the significance of education among African Americans as it serves to improve the livelihoods of many Black people that reside in ghetto neighborhoods. Badu also urges her fellow Black people to be aware of prejudicious extrajudicial killings executed against them and encourages them to be relentless in pursuit of racial equality. Meshell Ndegeocello’s I’m Diggin’ you Like an Old Soul Record

references the 1960’s civil rights movements and the struggle for racial equality. Ndegeocello also criticizes the misguided perception that the Caucasians’ physical appearance is the beauty standard in her song the Soul on Ice. Angie Stone’s Black Diamond empowers black people to be proud of their physical appearance while Eric Benet’s Chocolate Legs

likens black women to creatures that exude love, peace, and warmth in a bid to validate their beauty among other appealing attributes.

An Analysis of Soul Music’s Conveyance of Messages Regarding Black Power

Erykah Badu’s Soldier is a Neo-soul song from the album New Amerykah and was released in 2008. The song highlights the importance of acquiring education among the Black people as it serves to improve the livelihood of those that live in the ghetto neighborhoods. In the song, Badu also delves into the history of Black people as being second-class citizens and calls for racial equality. She further warns the Black people to be aware of extra-judicial killings executed by skewed American police against African-Americans. The song also encourages Black people to work hard for better social amenities when Erykah says “Get ya money dollar bill y'all.”  The song also encourages African-Americans to strive for better working conditions and better pay when Badu says “to my folks on the picket line, don’t stop ‘till you change they mind.” Badu further encourages Black people to be relentless in their struggle for racial equality when she says, “we gone keep marchin’ on until you hear that freedom song.”

Meshell Ndegeocello’s   I’m Diggin’ You Like an Old Soul Record is a song that references the 1960’s struggle for racial equality among African-Americans (Burnim & Maultsby, 2015). In the song, Ndegeocello reminisces over how the Black people’s unity against racial discrimination yielded their gain of civil rights and how love brought them together. She further delves into how Black people held push-for-freedom forums at basements and how those meetings resulted in their freedom. Meshell also highlights how the protesting Black people would be beaten down by police offices before running back to the basements where they would hide and discuss their civil movement strategies. The song also encourages African-Americans to love and have romantic relationships with one another when Ndegeocello says “I need some Black-On-Black love and “Ain’t no woman like the one I got.” According to Ndegeocello, the move stands to empower the Black people to love one another and unite them against racial inequality. Ndegeocello also highlights soul music as part of Black culture and how the genre helps them cope with their ordeals since it gives them a “good feeling.”

Meshell Ndegeocello’s Soul on Ice criticizes the racist beauty standards set by the Caucasians and blames the misguided perception on Black people’s lack of pride in the beauty of their physical appearance (Burnim & Maultsby, 2015). Soul on Ice highlights the Black people’s perception that the Caucasians’ white skin coupled with blond hair and blue eyes are standards of beauty. In the process, the Black people no longer appreciate their “motherland brown skin” as well as their kinky afro-hair that require the “hot comb” for straightening. Ndegeocello also invokes the view that the Black people see the Caucasians’ physical features as superior to theirs due to white supremacy nurtured during the slavery era. Ndegeocello, however, encourages Black people to embrace their physical appearance because some aspects of nature favor their appearance. This view is highlighted when Meshell says “Excuse me does the white woman go better with the Brooks Brothers suit?”. She further urges Black people to embrace their appearance when she says “you can’t run from yourself.” Additionally, the phrase “She’s just an illusion” serves to refute the perception that the White people are physically more appealing and that Black people should embrace their inherent physical characteristics wholeheartedly.

Angie Stone’s Black Diamond is a song that highlights how the Black people are discriminated against due to the “darker shade” of their skin. Stone further asserts the view that Black people miss out on many opportunities simply because of their skin color. The racial discrimination imposed on Black people renders them incapable of living orderly lives. Instead, they are live on “pushin and shovin’ each other.”  Stone, however, empowers Black people to be proud of their culture and heritage by referring to them as “Black diamonds and blue pearls.” By referring to Black people as “diamonds and pearls, the phrases serve to assert that they are both strong and precious. In the song, Stone also insinuates that black people’s strength was derived from ordeals such as slavery imposed by the White people and likens them to diamonds that undergo rigorous processes before they become valuable and precious. Therefore, the song Black Diamond aims to empower Black people to be proud of their heritage and also exude strength in the face of adversities as they only make them stronger and better.

Eric Benet’s Chocolate Legs serves to empower the Black women of color to be proud of their physical attributes (Burnim & Maultsby, 2015). In the song, Benet alludes to the view that Black women of color make their spouses forget all their daily struggles given their physical features. In this case, the women’s “chocolate legs” wrapped around the spouse makes the memory of a strenuous day “fade away.” Benet further mentions that the Black Woman’s “cocoa skin” is symbolic of pure love and that it has the potential to “revive” men from their weary states. Benet also likens a Black woman to a God who purportedly supports them unconditionally. He also asserts that the Black woman’s company is therapeutic considering it allegedly sets their weary man’s soul free. In conclusion, Benet’s Chocolate Legs

empowers Black women of color to perceive themselves as beautiful, divine creatures, which exude unconditional love and warmth capable of bringing surreal peace to a weary man’s soul.


Burnim, M., & Maultsby, P. (2015). African American music (2nd ed., pp. 293 - 297). New York and London: Routledge.

August 01, 2023



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