Musical Truth

A Musical History of Modern Black Britain in 28 Songs

Publisher: Faber & Faber

'Music can carry the stories of history like a message in a bottle.'

This thorough and inspiring selection of 28 songs carefully chosen by Jeffrey Boakye to represent Modern Black Britain isn’t just a must-listen playlist – it’s a history book in a league of its own, offering a unique new perspective on postcolonialism and exploring Black identity in the UK.

Boakye’s knowledge and passion shines through as he explains the background, emotional impact, and historical significance of songs that changed British culture forever – from London is the Place for Me by Lord Kitchener to Vossi Bop by Stormzy. Topics such as racism, structural oppression, and sexism are addressed through the lens of work by artists such as Musical Youth, Sade, Dave, and even Ed Sheeran, and each musician is stylishly characterised in a pop-art monochrome print by visual artist and designer Ngadi Smart.

Not just essential reading for older children and teens (and adults!), but essential listening too. Playing each of the tracks as Boakye unpacks their lyrics and story through concise and powerful commentary offers a fascinating insight into each song, and would be a wonderful and engaging way to raise discussions in a classroom setting.

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