Highlight denotes Black author or source | Highly recommended ︎


Top 40, K-Pop, Latin Pop, West African (“Afrobeats”), and more.
Origins: Early 1950s.


  • The Power of Black Music: Interpreting Its History from Africa to the United States by Samuel A. Floyd Jr., 1996. ︎

  • What the Music Said: Black Popular Music and Black Public Culture by Mark Anthony Neal, 1998.

  • Out of Sight: The Rise of African American Popular Music, 1889-1895 by Doug Seroff and Lynn Abbott, 2002.

  • The Black and White of American Popular Music by Vera Lee, 2007.

  • Footsteps in the Dark: The Hidden Histories of Popular Music by George Lipsitz, 2007. ︎

  • How the Beatles Destroyed Rock ’n’ Roll: An Alternative History of American Popular Music by Elijah Wald, 2009.

  • Prince and Popular Music : Critical Perspectives on an Interdisciplinary Life ed. by Mike Alleyne and Kirsty Fairclough, 2020.

  • Janet Jackson's The Velvet Rope by Ayanna Dozier, 2020.

  • Soul in Seoul: African American Popular Music and K-pop by Crystal S. Anderson, 2020.

  • Shine Bright: A Personal History of Black Women in Pop by Danyel Smith, 2021.


  • Sign o’ the Times, dir. Prince, 1987. 1h 25m. ︎

  • 20 Feet from Stardom, dir. Morgan Neville, 2013. 1h 31m. ︎



  • “Madonna: Plantation Mistress or Soul Sister?" by bell hooks, Black Looks: Race and Representation, 1992.

  • “The sound(s) of subjection: Constructing American popular music and racial identity through Blacksound” by Matthew D. Morrison, Women & Performance, Volume 27, Issue 1, 2017.


  • Santigold” by DJ Lynnée Denise,  inWomen Who Rock: Bessie to Beyonce. Girl Groups to Riot Grrrl, ed. by Evelyn McDonell, Black Dog & Leventhal, October, 2018.

  • “On Summer Crushing” (Whitney Houston) by Hanif Abdurraqib, The Paris Review, June 2019.︎