Let’s just jump into it.
1. Jai Paul: BTSTU
I touched on this earlier this week, but I cannot get away from this. First of all, you should know that if for some crazy reason I every end up on “Inside the Actor’s Studio” and James Lipton asks me my favorite curse word, it will be without a doubt, fuck. So if you give me a song that starts with a falsetto voice singing, Don’t fuck with me. Umm yes. And then the chorus, I know I’ve been gone a long time but, I’m back and I want what is mine over a dubstep beat. Yes please.
2. Big Boi & C-Bone: Tell C-Bone
This song utilizes Big Boi’s line from Purple Ribbon All-Stars “Kryptonite” Time and time again, I gotta turn back ’round and tell C-Bone/Grab that cologne out my book bag, I smell ‘dro all on you, homes. Granted, C-Bone is not the best rapper, but the combination of this beat and his super damn near Droopy flow makes you want to cruise down the avenue slouched down in the seat.
3. Drake: Dreams Money Can Buy
I’ve written about this song twice this week already so let’s just leave it at, yeah it’s on the playlist.
4. The Black Keys: The Lengths
One thing I love about The Black Keys is how easily they can go from loud, raucous rock to soft, quiet sweetness. This song falls into the latter category. Everything about this song is so beautifully mournful, the lyrics, Dan Auerbach’s vocals; hell even the guitar pulls an Eric Clapton and gently weeps. Listening to it just makes a hush fall over me.
5. BlackStar: Respiration featuring Common
I’m still blown away by the metaphors and personification in this song. Mos Def on New York: the shiny apple is bruised but sweet/and if you choose to eat/you could lose your teeth. The imagery in the chorus alone is worth the price of admission,
“So much on my mind that I can’t recline/ Blastin holes in the night til she bled sunshine/ Breathe in, inhale vapors from bright stars that shine/ Breathe out, weed smoke retrace the skyline/ Heard the bass ride out like an ancient mating call/ I can’t take it y’all, I can feel the city breathin/ Chest heavin, against the flesh of the evening/ Sigh before we die like the last train leaving.“
I have to say that this is the verse that made me fall in lyrical love with Talib Kweli. First he reworks the “City that never sleeps” trope with, hell froze the night the city slept. Then he has lines like:
Look in the skies for god, what you see besides the smog
Is broken dreams flying away on the wings of the obscene
Thoughts that people put in the air
But everything is fair
It’s a paradox we call reality
So keepin it real will make you casualty of abnormal normality
and my favorite
Hard to be a spiritual being when shit is shakin what you believe in
I’ve already gone on too long to even touch on Common’s verse but damn.
6. Gregory Issacs: If I Don’t Have You
First of all you’ve got to love a reggae love song. Second, this is one of those songs that is so confident in it’s simplicity. There is nothing overly complicated about it, the lyrics, the music or even Gregory Issacs’ vocal delivery, but it all comes together so perfectly.
7. Pharoahe Monch: The Truth featuring Talib Kweli and Common
Let’s keep this simple, Pharoahe kicks it off with, Truth had me up against the ropes /semi-concious without no boxing skills/ Fear of it makes hair on my neck grow like minoxodil. Unfortunately, Common is going to get short shrift twice this week for exceptional work, but I have to talk about Talib Kweli’s verse. Talib might not be good for consistently rapping on beat, but damn if he doesn’t have a gift for imagery and wordplay. Check:
That shit you gotta get off your chest before your death, unless /The way you speak is lighter than a pamphlet / Cuz the truth give the words the weight of a planet goddammit /I ran wit what God planted in my heart and I understand it /To be the bring the light to the dark, breathe some life in this art /This must be the truth (why?) cuz we keep marchin on (true) /The truth lay the foundation of what we rockin on (true) /
You can’t see it if you blind but we will always prevail (true) /Life is like the open sea, the truth is the wind in our sail /And in the end, our names is on the lips of dying men /If ever crushed in the earth, we always rise again /When the words of lying men sound lush like the sound of a violin /The truth is there, it’s just the heart you gotta find it in
8. A Tribe Called Quest: Electric Relaxation
I first fell in love with ATCQ while one day watching The Box, I found out that they had a song containing the name of my street and I was positive that they made that song for me. Anyway, I love the juxtaposition in this song, the beat is so damn sexy and seductive while very few of the lyrics are. For instance, I wanna pound the pootang until it stinks, Who gets away with that line except Q-Tip over this beat. But my favorite WTF line comes courtesy of Phife, Let me hit it from the back girl I won’t catch a hernia. I have so many questions about this, is this a thing? Is it possible to get a hernia from hitting it from the back, did that happen to Phife? Hopefully these questions will be answered in the upcoming documentary.
9. Pete Kuzma: High & Dry featuring Bilal
All I’ll say here is, Bilal + Radiohead = Success. This is just so good that I can’t do it justice describing it.
10. Wick-It the Investigator: You Ain’t the Next DJ
This is from the Big Boi/Black Keys mash-up album posted here. This is probably my favorite song from the mixtape simply because I really didn’t feel like Andre’s production completely worked on “You Ain’t No DJ” mostly because Yelawolf’s flow just didn’t match. This, however doesn’t sound like a mash-up, it sounds like an original. Matter of fact, The Black Keys have already done BlakRoc and Big Boi is in the studio with Modest Mouse, The need to quit playing and do an album together.
11. Killer Mike: In My City featuring T.I.
This is the 2nd track on Mike Bigga’s mixtape, Bang x3. I love this song because it’s one of those day in the life tracks reminiscent of “Today Was a Good Day.” It’s a deceptively simple walk through the neighborhood but with lines like, The Jehovah Witnesses is tryin ta save a nigga’s soul/ and theses pimps is on the strip trying to sell a nigga hoes. Get the mixtape already.
12. T3: Motor Freaks
13. Bob Dylan: The Times They Are A-Changin’
It’s his birthday, I had to include at least one song, and this is the one of many that I picked.
14. Sleepy Brown: You’re My Lady
15. Proof: Clap With Me
This to me is like an anthem and I probably get too excited whenever it comes on. RIP.
16. TV On The Radio: Will Do
I love this song more and more every time I play it. Why am I not going to Pitchfork? -sigh-
17. Jimi Hendrix: All Along the Watchtower
If you can listen to this song and walk away without knowing that Jimi Hendrix is a damn genius, I don’t even know why you’re reading this blog. Talk about guitars weeping. Hendrix’s guitar weeps, laughs and dances all on the same song.
18. Otis Redding: Try A Little Tenderness
I lovessss me some Otis. And this song is what all soul singers should aspire to. When he gets to about the 1:50 mark, you can feel that he’s about unleash something and by 2:30 he’s in church and 20 seconds later he’s preaching. Not to mention, it’s damn good advice.
19. Reflection Eternal: Just Begun featuring Jay Electronica, J. Cole and Mos Def
1st look at the line up. 2nd realize that I’m obsessed with New Orleans and Jay Electronica comes through with this: I dedicate this to my niggas in New Orleans /Rockin’ black and gold stocking caps and fleur-de-lis Shockey hats/ I’m in the coatroom, screamin’ “Who Dat” on the double/ Servin’ gumbo wit’ a shovel, dawg, I’m on another level.