black history month has started off with a bang (thank you, Beyoncé!), and it is time to get excited for a month’s long journey of celebrating and appreciating the rich history of black culture. However, many ask, “How should I do it?” After all, it can be hard to keep up with Black History Month in the sea of political chaos in America, the apparent stressors of globalization, and the modernized stream of condensed social media in our everyday lives. Despite this, music is a stable area for a diverse and colorful source of black culture in which you can project your empathy, sympathy, or any shade of emotional and intellectual capacity - and it can always play in the background and never interject in the fast-paced world of modern society.

For those who want to engage in the groovier side of Black History Month, here are four albums and mixtapes to create an outstanding black history month playlist that you can listen to throughout February.

Playlist: the albums

"A Seat at the Table" by Solange - If you were alive last year or were not living under a rock, which was probably very tempting in the disaster that was 2016, you probably heard of the phenomenal A Seat at the Table by Beyoncé’s younger sister Miss Solange Knowles. With a soft, gorgeous falsetto, vibrant visuals, and deep lyrics, Solange sings about the legacy of black culture, discussing controversial issues like cultural appropriation, microaggressions, stereotyping, mental illness, and spirituality on her Grammy-nominated album.

Gems such as, “Mad,” “Cranes in the Sky,” and “Don’t Touch My Hair,” are sure to have you carrying your own tune of black culture all month.

To Pimp A Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar - Kendrick Lamar is no stranger to using lyrical prowess, artisan studio beats made by greats such as Dr. Dre and Pharrell, and his gravelly rumble of a voice to tell the tale of the lost individuals in our impoverished inner-city communities.

His previous critically-acclaimed endeavors: "good kid," "m.A.A.d city," and "Section.80" prove no hardship exploring the depth of this issue in America. Regardless, there is some element of "To Pimp A Butterfly" that does this in a cohesive, polarizing, and engaging way that had all of America tuning in. Moving slightly away from the autobiographical lens of the artist's youthful misadventures in Compton and focusing on a bigger problem, it masterfully raises the question of what happens to the people long forgotten by America: What should they do?

Kendrick’s response is to embrace, celebrate, and cherish the richness of black culture: making TPAB a must-have on your playlist.

Obligatory Beyoncé mention

"Lemonade" by Beyoncé - Did you really think you could curate an amazing Black History Month playlist without this album? This ambitious visual album unapologetically blasts anthems of black womanhood, pride, and culture all while giving our ears a blessing to be remembered for decades in music history. Besides, don’t you want the social media approved tunes of “Formation,” and “Sorry"? "Lemonade" is the album that begs you to release the angst, pride, and strength you thought never had, and take a second to live vicariously through one of the greatest music acts in history.

Playlist: the mixtape

"Coloring Book" by Chance The Rapper - Gospel and spirituality are important aspects of black culture - many religious leaders and communities are prominent features of Black History Month. "Coloring Book" is not the first hip-hop albums to explore these themes but is an excellent contemporary example of the potential hip-hop has to examine spirituality through the lens of black culture. Often credited with revitalizing the mixtape, and being the first streaming-only album to be Grammy-nominated, "Coloring Book" reinvents and refreshes the wheel of the gospel and black spirituality, and is a must-have in your musical jubilance of black culture.