Turn us up in your headphones. It’s time to bring multiple generations of the family together for one big outdoor dance party. And let’s face it: At least half the fun of meeting up once a year is having the young folks teach you the latest moves while the older relatives share how they used to get down back in the day.
But you’ll need a nice long list of songs to groove to, and they need to transcend time, plus inspire you up off that picnic bench after a day of grilling and dining.
That’s why our Miami-based celebrity mixmaster, Deejay Self Born, put together this 20-song playlist for your Coolest Black Family Reunion. We even have a Spotify version so you can have your own auto-play deejay.
1. D Low – “Do It Like Me” Get all of the youngster dances out of the way in one fell swoop with this song that covers the milly rock, nae nae, and the quan.
2. V.I.C. – “Wobble” –This song starts the party up proper-like regardless of the age group and is perfect for bringing together family members of all generations. Plus, it’s simple to do so you won’t need a YouTube tutorial to get it going.
3. Cupid – “Cupid Shuffle” –Just like the Wobble this slightly older classic gets even greatmama on the dance floor.
4. Mr. C – “Cha Cha Slide” –Once everyone is up and moving, slide this into the mix. It’s a great group dance and allows for lots of innovation. (We see you out there making it your own, Uncle!)
5. Ghosttown DJs – “My Boo” -Always a favorite for the 30-plus contingent, this song has been given a whole new relevancy, thanks to the NEW “Running Man” dance. Don’t be surprised if the tweens try to crowd you off the dance floor when it comes on.
6. R. Kelly – “Step In the Name of Love” -This song gets the elegant, upstanding two- steppers on the floor. The slower, yet very danceable melody, is a good time for your auntie to show you how they did it in HER day.
7. Beyoncé – “Single Ladies” -This song speaks directly to the ladies, as ‘Yonce intended. Leave plenty of room for hand gestures and hip bouncing.
8. Jay – “I Just Wanna Love Ya” –This is one of the best hip-hop songs to get those feet moving. Go for the clean version and drag your reluctant boo on the floor. This will make up for dragging them to your family’s reunion. Again.
9. Mary Jane Girls – “All Night Long” –This song brings together the 20- and 30-somethings. The smooth beat and belted out vocals will inspire your older cousins to tell you how they used to rule the clubs.
10. Maze – “Before I Let Go” –This song is pretty much a staple in Black family functions for anyone over 35… Make sure you’re ready to sing the break!
11. Gap Band – “Outstanding” –This song makes everyone over 40 happy and always brings the couples to the dance floor. Hey, it’s better than arguing over who ate too much of the potato salad.
12. Bill Withers – “Lovely Day” –This is just a must-have song due to the positive energy emanating from this classic. Save this one for dusk to have everyone in a happy mood as the festivities reach a close.
13. Michael Jackson – “Rock With You” –A Black family reunion without Michael Jackson is like… I literally took 5 minutes and couldn’t imagine it… It doesn't happen and I apologize for even entertaining the notion.
14. Cameo – “Candy” –This song represents great times in the mid ‘80s for everyone 40 and up. Just put your lemonade down before you spill it, swaying to one of the most groove-inspiring bands in history.
15. Prince – “When Doves Cry” – We so miss the Purple One. Play this one loud and no worries if your feet are tired. It’s great for chair dancing. Attendees of all ages will appreciate this warbling, wavy-sounding triumph.
16. Cheryl Lynn – “Got To Be Real”-At this point this song shows the younger generation how great music was for dancing together in a perty… Something the latest generation doesn’t get to see in the club today.
17. Michael Jackson – “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough” -Like I said Michael Jackson comes standard with the cold drinks and the grilled meat. Spoiler alert: You can never have “enough.”
18. Earth Wind & Fire – “September” –It may be cliché at this point but songs like this will probably never go out of style. There will be a Soul Train line.
19. Sister Sledge – “We Are Family –This song is mandatory for the kids to hear and for the elders to really drive home the day’s theme… FAMILY.
20. O’Jays – “Family Reunion” –Another themed selection, and this song rounds out about an hour of entertaining and reminiscing.
Below is a Spotify version of the playlist featuring many of the songs in the Kingsford-powered, EBONY.com curated Coolest Black Family Reunion line-up. (Note: You will need a Spotify membership, premium or free, to log in and play for your kinfolk.)
DJ Self Born is a Miami-based, Chicago-raised celebrity mixmaster and entrepreneur. In addition to cooking up this immaculate playlist for our EBONY.com readers, the turntablist is on deck to provide the soundtrack for his own family’s annual get-together this July. He has been featured on JETmag.com, New Times Miami, NBC.com and Ocean Drive magazine to name a few. Follow him on Twitter or Instagram: @DJSelfBorn