If Between the World and Me Had a Soundtrack


Between The World And Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates is a wonderful book and a necessary read. It’s very powerful and eye-opening. The book is basically a letter to his son about what it’s like to be black in America. After I was done reading this book, I began thinking of songs that connect to it. So here’s five songs that would be on the soundtrack for Between the World and Me.

This is one of Michael Jackson’s most powerful songs. Jackson is calling out the powers that be and saying that they don’t care about his people. This song fits with Coates’ idea that the “system” doesn’t care about the black community and that it never did from the start.

I have always enjoyed the songs by Tupac where he is talking about the state of the world. This song is almost 20 years old and it’s still sadly relevant. Shakur talks about how the world hasn’t changed, and he mentions police brutality, which is still obviously a problem. This song connects to the book because Coates talks about the many unarmed black men & women who have been killed by the police.

On this song, which is one of my favorites by Marvin Gaye, he’s singing about the state of the world and how it bothers him. This connects to Coates’ book because some of the same things that Gaye is singing about Coates is talking about. It’s sad that 40-plus years later we’re still having these same issues.

This is one Stevie Wonder song that I would consider underrated. It’s a great song. Wonder sings about things like race relations and different issues going on in the world. The themes here link nicely to Coates’ discussions on race and culture.

J. Cole is one of my favorite contemporary rappers. I would consider him not only a rapper, but also a storyteller. In this song, Cole tells of his dream where he was trapped in a city where he got robbed at gunpoint. In a separate dream he and his friends were the ones committing the robbery. This song reminds me of Between The World And Me because there’s a part of the book when Coates talks about when he was younger and he saw a boy pull out a gun during an argument and how that changed him.

Between the World and Me is a book that will make you think. I’d like to believe that these songs will do the same thing. If you’ve read this book, what songs would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!




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5 responses to “If Between the World and Me Had a Soundtrack

  1. I love all the artists on your list and love the way you’ve weaved them into your review. Definitely going to check this book out!

  2. This is a such a good list! I’m going to read this book this month, and I’ll definitely be queuing these songs as I do so.

  3. Pingback: January Recap | Eleventh Stack

  4. I’m so sorry I only came upon this post now! These days, with near daily assaults on humanity taking place all over our country, the fate of which hangs in the balance of the next 5 weeks or so, I’ve been playing one CD on repeat: the soundtrack to “Judgment Night” (http://www.allmusic.com/album/judgment-night-mw0000101514). It wasn’t a great movie, but the soundtrack is a compilation of rap & metal/rock artists. It is violent, visceral and cacophonous, and reminds me of the hardest questions this book asks us to face.

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