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A collection about the sounds of Black Love 
By The Renegade Editorial Team

On this day of love, the Editorial Team takes a moment to talk about their favorite Black love songs. From Stevie Wonder to Kendrick Lamar, from romance to self-love,  we have a special spot for songs about the most wonderful feeling in the world. 
Listen to the playlist here!

“Free Yourself” - Fantasia
By Janese Fayson

“If you don’t want me then don't talk to me!” No, Fantasia wasn’t the first woman to coin this phrase or even the first to feel this type of scorn, but she’s definitely the one who made it into a bop! 90s R&B has captivated millions, as it has sunken its neo-soul nails into anyone who gives it a listen.  Lyrics about “scrubs” or “brown sugar” have kept R&B alive to this day. Fast forward to 2023 and R&B has taken an almost completely separate style and flow. Although inspiration can be found in many of the new works put out by Sza, Summer, Brent, you name it; we have definitely seen a shift. This is not to say that one version of this music is better than the other, just that one thrives on being the optime of classics, while the other is still being constructed for this new day and age. With Valentine's day approaching, it’s safe to assume not everyone has a boo-thang to hit the town with, or alternately hit the bed with… and that’s OK! In essence, this is why the song is so important. Self-love baby, it’s the greatest. The purest form of love. No need to put up with mixed signals and minimal effort, especially not on the day designated to love. So, come Valentine's day if your situationship still hasn’t hit your line or made plans, go ahead and put on some soul full R&B and bring this love-filled holiday in with yourself, or your girls; and alas, remember what Fantasia said. 



Can You Stand the Rain - New Edition

By Jacquelyn Trotman


When I think of Black love, I immediately think of “Can You Stand the Rain”. My sister and I grew up listening to old-school R&B, and with New Edition being one of my parents’ favorite groups, this song was on at home all the time. The powerful vocals of each member blend together for a beautiful, unmatched harmony. However, it’s the message behind those vocals that make the song so iconic, and a perfect depiction of Black love. “Can you stand the rain?” is a question of whether or not another person’s love comes with conditions. Sticking around during the good times is easy—anyone can do that. It’s those tough moments of adversity, vulnerability, and self-questioning when we really need someone by our side. Black love means weathering the storm. It means loving wholeheartedly and without conditions. Over the years, this song has given me a standard by which I can evaluate the relationships in my life, whether they be romantic, platonic, or familial. While it’s great to be with someone when everything’s going well, at the end of the day, I want someone who can stand by me in the rain. Beyond giving me a sense of nostalgia for a time I never lived in, “Can You Stand the Rain” is a reminder of the unconditional love that I deserve and have to give. 



Purple Hearts – Kendrick Lamar
By Vanessa Walker

Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers at large feels like listening in on a therapy session, tackling healing on a cultural and deeply personal level. What I admire about Purple Hearts in particular is the way it closes the first half of the album with a hopeful outlook on self-growth and love. The song carries a balanced vibe with chill, yet uplifting instrumentals that help us slow down and allow these piercingly meditative lyrics to sink in. It comes in loaded with spiritual acknowledgments, crediting God as the source of love and us as distributors of this divine gift. 
It builds verse by verse, from Kendrick stepping up to be a better partner despite the toxic culture around him, to Summer Walker acknowledging her worth and the need for a quality of love that matches that, then closing with Ghostface Killah’s prophetic words on love’s divine power. The end of Kendrick’s verse speaks to me most profoundly (I bless one day that you attract somebody with your mind exact / a patient life, flaws, bless ‘em twice, and they’ll bless you back). It registers as something of an affirmation, that someone worthy will come, who shows me deeply honest love even as we’re both working to be who the other deserves. It’s work that comes with great responsibility, but when we love each other the right way we can set healing in motion and reach heavenly levels of connection we never thought possible. 



“Overjoyed” - Stevie Wonder
By Jordyn Alisa Williams

Stevie Wonder’s Overjoyed reinforces that the beauty of love is in its horror. Love requires taking a risk, making that first move, and being open to rejection, all of which are intimidating, to say the least. These feelings of uncertainty are tests for how far we will go to demonstrate our admiration for our loved ones. In Overjoyed, Stevie fantasizes about a charmed life spent with his lover. This fantasy, however, will forever live in his dreams as his love interest is not willing to take a chance on him. As lovers, we yearn for shared intimacy with that special someone, so what do we do when we can’t have them? I guess the only answer is to move on. But Stevie Wonder still begs the question, what could have been? 
You too might be/ Overjoyed, over loved, over me.



“Torn” - LeToya
By Geraldo Reid

The essence of romantic relationships exists as a means of having an important person in one’s life to which they can confide. It often begins as what is commonly known as the ‘honeymoon period’ which quickly dissipates into a form of easement, which is unacceptable for some. This creates issues and complications that neither party consciously foresaw. This period can be described as a pivotal stage of a relationship, as it could prove superficial or fatal. However, it could organize the future, creating a better understanding of what to do when a problem arises. Alluding to the former, this song by LeToya Luckett describes a relationship experience by one party that is confusing. “Torn between the two” is the story of her frame of mind. She is in a paradox of staying in the relationship but also wanting to leave. The idea of being in a relationship is to create long term memories. This comes with projecting positive thoughts, that don’t leave room for negative ideas to creep in. With negative thinking, by fixating on whatever it is, it gets worse, leading to inevitable heartbreak. The theme of Valentine’s Day is a reminder to make their life, and in turn your life, special. Ultimately, always attempt to make each other happy.



“All I Do” - Stevie Wonder
By Anwuli Adeola Onwaeze

“You made my soul a burning fire/ You’re getting to be my one desire/ You’re getting to be all that matters to me” Have you ever been so consumed with the feeling of love that you could only think of one person, not knowing if they feel the same way? This Stevie Wonder classic perfectly wraps that feeling in a 5-minute musical gift. Wonder easily has one of the best love song discographies ever, but this song magnifies every little thing that makes all of his other ballads special. Despite its release in 1980, the unfiltered passion is penned by a 16-year-old Stevie but recorded for his 1980 album Hotter Than July. The song is bursting at the seams with that adolescent excitement that comes out when you fall in love. This Valentine’s Day you may be basking in this feeling Wonder speaks of, or still waiting on someone who will experience that with you. Whatever it is, give this tune a listen and your spirit will definitely be uplifted. 


The E-board's Honorable Mentions

Worth My While - Bootsy Collins 
Cater 2 You - Beyoncé
Charlene - Anthony Hamilton 
Do 4 Love - Snoh Alegra
Superpower - Beyoncé
Happy - Ashanti 



Renegade's Valentine's Day Song Picks

Reversing Toxicity: To All the Boys That Ever Loved

This is a thank you to the women who raised me; specifically, my long-term, long-distance love I almost celebrated 6 years with. On top of the fresh heartbreak, my queer-ass identifies as more than just a man: non-binary/gender non-conforming. I thought that because I actively challenged masculinity and identified as a feminist, I was good.

But shit, if I thought that made me an exclusion to toxic masculinity, I was wrong. If you were raised to be a man in the United States by history, media, or American “family values,” it’s time to unpack who we really are around the women in our lives.

My social justice bubbles have blessed me with the phrase, “Make space, take space.” Growing up as a masculine-presenting, progressive person with ADHD, I never found it difficult to take up space. Lately, I’ve started questioning how much space I take up and what I do to create space for others.

How do I listen?

While I thought I was getting better in group scenarios, I didn’t realize how normal it was for me to dominate conversations in the 5 years 10 months I was with my partner… This black woman had given up hope that things would ever be different.

The trick to communication doesn’t rest in telling our perspective so crystal-clear that it can’t be denied. Recently, I witnessed how my usual dissection of the issue-at-hand with a well-thought out solution left my partner feeling trapped in a situation she knows too well. Exhausted that she would, once again, have to conform to my solution, even though her feelings were not yet heard and validated. Ideally, two people should acknowledge the truth in both sides but I can’t continue demanding to be heard, if I don’t first listen.

My relationship has taught me our learning doesn’t stop after 4 years and a degree. Men have to have to stop being defensive and adapt to what the women around us tell us. There will never be, nor should there be, a threshold we reach as men where suddenly nobody can tell us nothin’.

Truth is media images (movies, series, songs, Insta feeds) are always influencing how we see the world and ourselves. Rev. Michael Beckwith once told me that we’ve been imprinted with an image of who we think we are—society, media, religion, our parents—our life then becomes a process of peeling those images off and finding our inner truth. How? By listening. And in order to coexist in the greatest truth, we have to listen to the experiences of society’s most marginalized before our own. If you’re a man in society, it doesn’t matter how chivalrous or respectful you think you are––your ass still needs to check yourself.

“I ain’t a p**sy, about to let my woman tell me how it is!” I hear you brother. I was also raised by a “Man of the house” but in MY home, we’ll listen. And we’ll only speak of pussy in praise.

Praise by listening to the most influential black women in the world have to say. What homeless women and sexual abuse survivors have to say. Read some Bell Hooks or listen to any of Stacey Abrams’s speeches. I sure as hell hope ya’ll took something away from Angela Davis’ visit to campus. Cuz I did, especially when queen Davis spoke about her era of activism, “we were fighting for freedom for the Black man…but even though so many of those who were involved in the struggle were women, we didn't realize we weren't even writing ourselves into that narrative of freedom. ” Women supported the liberation of man and for us to do the same we must now really listen to her.

Believing that I’m one of the “good” guys, didn’t let me listen, blinding me from real growth. I’m still learning to process the unintentional hurt I’ve caused someone I love. It doesn’t make me a bad person, but it does mean I have to prioritize how she feels over what I “believe to be right.” And if she feels like she can’t speak honestly because I won’t be receptive to criticism, I’ll wait. All I can do now is shut up and listen.

One of the reasons I didn’t make it to 6 years was because I thought I listened with my ears but that’s too passive. I now understand, I listen best by creating diagrams, asking questions to understand the full story, and setting reminders to journal later about what was brought up in our conversation. Real listening happens deep in the brain, so you can either put the emotional labor on your partner to hammer her truth for years until it gets there or make time for you to engage your brain and listen however works for you.

How do you listen?

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