Various Artists

Say It Loud! A Celebration of Black Music in America [Box Set]

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There's little question that Rhino's six-disc box Say It Loud! A Celebration of Black Music in America is well-intentioned and even educational, presenting a musical history (interspersed with spoken excerpts from famous speeches) of the 20th century, from Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag" to Coolio's "Fantastic Voyage." That's a lot of ground to cover, not just in terms of history, but in sheer terms of music, since a lot happened during those 100 years. Of course, that's the set's point -- it WANTS to be overwhelming, to hit you in the face with the sheer vibrancy and creativity of black music, and to show how it evolved while remaining at the center of American culture. All well and good, and it even accomplishes its task quite well; even if it misses such stalwarts as Stevie Wonder and Public Enemy, it still gives the overall arc of history, which is no small feat. So, why doesn't Say It Loud! warrant a more enthusiastic recommendation? Because it never intoxicates with its music, never lets the listener get lost in the music itself, since it prefers to preach instead of cajole. The end result is a box that feels like the cornerstone of a thorough, yet rather dull, collegiate music history course -- you'll learn a lot, possibly discover some great music (since there is almost nothing but great music here, even if some of the inclusions on the last two discs are a little questionable, such as Quincy Jones' "Sanford and Son" or Living Colour's "Elvis Is Dead"), but it feels more like an obligation than a passion.

Track Listing - Disc 5

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:01
2 3:38
3 4:05
4 3:56
5 3:06
6 6:01
7 3:34
8 3:15
9 3:18
10 3:34
11 3:06
12 3:01
13 3:49
14 4:40
15 3:07
16 4:36
17 2:53
18 5:41
19 3:40
blue highlight denotes track pick