Music is a monumental part of all cultures because it has the power to unify people and cross borders. Just one song can have the power to bring millions of people from different backgrounds together. Many genres of music originate from communities that have visible roots in Africa. In North America,, it was a way that the early slaves could express themselves and communicate when they were being forcibly relocated and when there were restrictions on what cultural activities they could pursue. In a time where their world was being turned upside down, music served as an escape and form of communication/expression for early black communities. The ability of music to act as a binding factor provides all culture's with a strong sense of connectivity. Loosely termed black music with no specificity with regards to genre as a definition in the United States started with its roots embodied in slave spirituals and gospel music.
The term for many coming from places of "black" origin can be perceived in a derogatory manner by cultures who see the term as a blurring of lines which ignores the true roots of certain peoples and their specific traditions. To refer to musical genres with strong African-American influence, such as hip hop music, is very limited in scope and is not adopted by academic institutions as a true category.