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1. The Roots: Kool On
The thing I love about The Roots is that I love their albums more with each listen. It’s not that it’s not love at first listen, just that with each listen the subtleties and nuances become more apparent. Anyway, this track has been in heavy rotation due primarily to Greg Porn’s wordplay in the first verse. First he hits you with: “I’m in the double G, three-piece tux/ Screaming dressed to kill /Hope somebody call my bluff” Then a few bars later he comes back with: “Wit is on guard, I challenge you to a duel/ Who needs a chain when every thought’s a jewel/ God bless the weirdo when everyone’s a fool.” Everything about this song just works, as a song on it’s own merits it does the job and as a part of a theme album it showcases the protagonist’s mindset at this point of his life. Think Frank Lucas in his chinchilla at the fight or Tony Montana in the bathtub. Hubris: the pride before the fall.
2. Theophilus London f. Sara Quin
I don’t know what it is but I love a bitter song with a catchy beat. Everything about the music is bouncy and feel good but with a hook that starts off: “If you think you’re special, you’re probably not” and addressing the woman in question as Mrs. Rain Cloud it’s every bit the break-up letter put to music.
3. Kelis: Acapella
True story: Around the holidays, I was at a Disney Themed Festivus Drag Show (fun times!) mid-conversation with a co-worker and we fell silent because this was playing. Also, Emancipate > Born This Way > Firework. Seriously, check out the Flesh Tone Album.
4. Pusha T f. Tyler the Creator: Trouble On My Mind
I just LOVE this for real. This is one of my favorite songs to have in the headphones when I’m walking downtown ignoring people. It’s really great for cultivating that thousand yard stare necessary for avoiding “fundraising” canvassers.
5. Big K.R.I.T. f. Ludacris & Bun B: Country Shit Remix
Anytime this comes on in the car, I slouch down in my seat a bit. Seriously, Ludacris comes close to making me forget his “struggle bars” from the BET Cypher. Big K.R.I.T. is in the middle of a rap rampage right now and Bun B is Bun B.
6. Killer Mike: Ric Flair
One of my dearest friends is a huge advocate of having an “Unfuckwitable” playlist. That is, a playlist that you can go to when you aren’t feeling your best and by the time it ends your ego is at about Kanye West level. If ever there was a candidate for your Unfuckwitable playlist, it’s a Killer Mike song sampling Ric Flair. (See also, Pusha T – What Dreams are Made of)
7. Azealia Banks F. Lazy Jay: 212
I adore Azealia Banks. I love that she is so adorable and depraved. But not in the Lil’ Kim, Nicki Minaj mold, she’s more like Karen O if Karen O were a 21 year old rapper. Also, so fucking talented. I’ve probably listened to this 50 times and have yet to completely break-down her rhyme schemes. And let’s not even talk about how she comes in and murders her own chorus. Can I get a Azealia Banks, Janelle Monae collabo?
8. Make The Girl Dance: KIll Me
I dare you to listen to this and not dance. This is my go to song if ever I find myself stuck in Chicago rush hour traffic.
9. Idle Warship: God Bless My Soul
I mean come on, how could a collaboration between Res and Talib Kweli not be good? This song makes me want to do two things: shake my ass and have an affair. Fortunately, I only succumb to the first urge.
10. Major Lazer: Original Don
Another I dare you track. This song always makes me late for something because not only can I not leave the house while it’s playing but it’s also extremely difficult to get dressed, put on makeup and do hair while doing the kind of dancing that this song requires.
11. Spank Rock F. Santigold: Car Song
Let me just that my love for Santigold knows no bounds. And Spank Rock’s no slouch either. So yeah, this song sounds like smart people having fun, and I want to go to that party. Right now, I want to be at a party where people say things like, “Now I wanna go west (like Kanye?) /
I was thinking more Cornell.
12. Childish Gambino: Bonfire
Donald Glover is so talented that it’s really not fair. This song is on the playlist because it includes a line that I believe is a shout-out to me personally, “I like black girls who nerdy but when they dance they be sayin’ ‘Owwww”
13. Millie Jackson: Phuck You Symphony
I watched the Millie Jackson episode of Unsung this week and it was the best possible way I could have spent 35 minutes and 47 seconds. Seriously. I was introduced to this song when Cam’ron sampled it with Murder Mase, but the simplicity of the original is absolute genius.