In celebration of Black Music Month, EBONY magazine pays tribute to the industry’s leaders, pioneers and game changers. Inside the June issue, EBONY honors both the present-day success stories and the giants who paved the way.

The issue is presented in a four-cover series, with Beyoncé, Jay Z, Kanye West and Rihanna gracing the covers as a salute to their unprecedented impact on Black music. One of the most critically acclaimed voices in urban music culture, Kevin Powell, lends EBONY his pen and probes the connection between the ruling musical icons and how they compare with legends of the past.

“It was an honor to write the four cover stories for EBONY magazine’s Black Music Month special collector’s edition, and to also pen the additional four mini-features inside,” said Powell. “Rarely do you see today’s unstoppable stars like BeyoncĂ©, Rihanna, Kanye West and Jay Z packaged with legends like Tina Turner, Donna Summer or Tupac Shakur, but we did it because when it comes to Black music, it is important to note the deep connection between the musicians of yesterday and today,” he added.

Inside EBONY, Powell paints a picture of the parallels between several music geniuses, regardless of the era they reigned. For example, Kanye and Tupac are both recognized as the poets who defined their own rules in the industry.

“They are brothers from another planet – the one they built themselves,” said Powell in the article as he referenced Kanye and Tupac. “Love them or hate them, there is no denying that these two bad boys of hip-hop make our culture so electric and so hard to ignore.”

Additional artists highlighted include Usher, Prince, Lauryn Hill and Mary J. Blige.

However, it is impossible to recognize the idols of Black music, without acknowledging those of the jazz era. EBONY also pays homage to Blue Note Records, the most respected and longest-running jazz label in the world, as the company celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Art Blakey were just a few of the legendary musicians on Blue Note Records, and now trailblazers such as Robert Glasper are continuing to carry the torch for the prestigious label.

The tribute continues as EBONY reveals the 10 music artists to watch – with Judith Hill, Childish Gambino and Lecrae on the list to name a few, the seven most epic battles in Black music and a guide to the best festivals, concerts and new music releases for the summer.