Nas, Janet Jackson, Louis Armstrong, Labelle archived in Library of Congress
JORDANNAH ELIZABETH | 4/1/2021, midnight
It has been reported that the 2021 roster of newly archived music inducts a number of Black musicians to the coveted Library of Congress collection. The sonically influential rapper Nas won his first Grammy this year and now has the honor of having his essential debut album, “Illmatic,” added to the Library of Congress which will preserve his legacy for generations to come.
The LOC website announced that “Janet Jackson’s clarion call for action and healing in ‘Rhythm Nation 1814’” now joins other groundbreaking sounds of history and culture among the latest titles inducted into the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress, including Louis Armstrong’s “When the Saints Go Marching In,” Labelle’s “Lady Marmalade,” Nas’ “Illmatic,” Kool & the Gang’s “Celebration,” and Kermit the Frog’s “The Rainbow Connection.”
This group of inductees follows last year’s surprise inclusion of Dr. Dre’s seminal West Coast hip hop album, “The Chronic,” highlighting the refreshing acknowledgment of hip hop and post-modern Black music into the fold. The recognition of “Rhythm Nation 1814” shows that politically charged Black social justice narratives are essential in understanding American music history. Nas’ moody debut opus has long been hailed as one of the best hip hop albums of all time as it is a flawless look into the depths of the Black experience and the high intelligence of the then 27-year-old rapper.
This is not to say that the fun-loving pop songs, “Lady Marmalade” by Labelle and Kool & the Gang’s “Celebration” don’t bring freshness and relevance to the collection. These songs highlight the tides of happiness, carefreeness and excitement that are also an element of Black life and music.
Art speaks to life and these pieces of music have risen to the heights of historical importance. It is hoped that this gradual progress of acceptance of artists of this caliber will continue long into the future.