Some songs transcend time and every other social construct you can imagine, achieving cult-classic status. And then there are songs that go even deeper than that, crossing generational lines and embedding themselves into the fabric of our very existence. These are the songs that everyone from your family’s matriarch to the youngest child knows the words to or moves to the accompanying dance, or even just enough of the melody to hum along.
While we can’t say every single Black person in the country jams these tunes, we feel pretty confident that these songs are known far and wide by a plethora of melanated music lovers. To kick off Black Music Month, here are 20 songs that almost every Black person knows.