This month’s featured mix is by the shockingly handsome Abe. It’s hard to imagine that one person has so much talent, charm, and admin access to edit this page as he sees fit. Truly an inspiration to us all. Read on to get the story behind the mix, and learn a little bit more about Abe and the music he loves…
So I figured I had to be the first one to kick off what will hopefully be a fun way to fuse performance with personality and learn a little more about our staff in the process. As I mentioned at the town-hall, I’m a hip hop head. It’s very rare that I get to play any of these songs at a gig, but they represent my style or my music history in some way. Had I tried to put this together before actually learning how to DJ, I probably would have picked different songs; songs that would have catered to the hip hop purist in me. I, however, understand that you have to give other people a reason to listen so a lot of these are the big singles or recognizable tracks from many artists I absolutely love (by the way, keeping this under an hour was insanely difficult so be forewarned should you try this yourself!). While I wouldn’t consider this mix flawless by any means, I’m proud of the fact that I did it all in one take without any post-production type of editing.
1. Open Your Eyes – Bobby Caldwell. This first 30 seconds or so is the original song that is sampled in the following track…
2) The Light – Common. Produced by the incomparable J Dilla, I picked this song because Common is one of my all-time favorites, it’s a classic example of J Dilla’s genius showcasing the art of sampling records that is so imbedded in rap music, and it’s a love song. Awwwww.
3) Just Friends (Sunny) – Musiq Soulchild. I took a stab and making this pseudo-mashup on the fly and it’s pretty fire if you ask me. I might have to ask an actual producer friend to make a full version. Musiq is soulful by nature and by name, and he had a way of coming out with songs that really captured a feeling or emotion at different stages of my youth.
4) You Rock My World – Michael Jackson. One of my favorite MJ songs to play at gigs because it’s slept on, but it bounces for all ages. Had to have some MJ.
5) What’s Golden – Jurassic 5. The very first concert I ever went to was a Jurassic 5 and Dilated Peoples show in LA. Their creativity and cohesiveness is a rare combination. Also, they slay.
6) Alphabet Aerobics – Blackalicious. I’ll be honest. This song didn’t really fit here in terms of BPM and a clean mix, but that was kind of the point. I half threw it in for shock value, and the other half was because when I was in high school, I would play this song to anyone who needed explanation of the difference between “radio rap” and those, like Gift of Gab of Blackalicious, who have skills.
7) Get By – Talib Kweli. My all-time favorite MC, Kweli’s career arc is interesting as he really has become a voice and activist for those fighting the many injustices across the country. Jay-Z once rhymed, “If skills sold, truth be told, I’d probably be, lyrically, Talib Kweli.” Enough said.
8) Electric Relaxation – A Tribe Called Quest. So many classics to choose from, but I went with this song because growing up I would listen to it and dream about one day cruising through the city (any city, really) and bumping Tribe like they do in the music video. Achievement unlocked!
9) 93 ‘til Infinity – Souls of Mischief. It’s funny because I grew up in LA, but was still a huge Hieroglyphics fan. This is a hip-hop classic and continues the chilled out vibe of Electric Relaxation.
10) I Can’t Wait – Sleepy Brown ft. Outkast. I really wanted to drop this because Andre’s verse is disgustingly good and probably gets overlooked for as much radio play as this song may have even gotten.
11) Thought @ Work – The Roots. The exceptions to playing the radio singles are the two songs from the Roots. I figured their notoriety is not in question anymore because of the Jimmy Fallon show, so I instead picked a song where Black Thought (one of the best lyricists of all time) gets to show off a little on an upbeat track that still sounds old school.
12) Halftime – Nas. Speaking of old school, this Nas tune is off of his debut album, Illmatic, which some critics say is the best rap album of all time. I wouldn’t necessarily agree, but it’s in the conversation, and Nas is as smooth of a storyteller as there is. Also, this song is literally at the half way mark of the track list. Get it?
13) I Know You Got Soul – Rakim. Rakim might be the most quoted rapper of all-time without given any credit. If you don’t know him, I suggest you listen to his catalog. It will start to feel a bit more familiar when you notice how many lines other rappers have stolen from him over the years. Truthfully, it’s paying homage to one of the greatest. How’s this for poetry: “I start to think, and then I sink, into the paper, like I was ink. When I’m writing I’m trapped in between the lines, I escape, when I finish the rhyme.”
14) Candy Rain – Soul 4 Real. I played off the word Soul on this one for the fun of it. Also, I just love this song. I remember watching these guys on the show “All That” back in the day and just thinking they were too smooth. Heavy D’s production shines, as well.
15) I Still Love You (Remix) – Next ft. Big Pun. Again, a song that brings back memories from 8th grade and the awkwardness of crushing on cute girls who looked my way. Also, there is an incredibly offensive line from Big Pun that always makes me laugh. I’ll let you listen for it as I made sure not to mix out of it before it gets dropped.
16) Crooked Smile (DJ Mike D Throwback Mix) – J Cole ft. TLC. As I think about some of my newer favorite hip hop artists, I definitely throw J. Cole in the mix. When he’s on point it’s something to behold. I went with the TLC remix because I’m a 90s kid.
17) This Way – Dilated Peoples ft. Kanye West. While this isn’t the first Kanye appearance on this list, it’s his first behind the microphone. I picked this song because when I was first dating Krista, she had a line from this song on her Facebook page (back when you needed a school e-mail address to sign up!) and I started to fall more in love with her because of it.
18) Ms. Fat Booty – Mos Def. Mos Def, who now goes by Yasiin Bey, is the total package as an artist. So much talent and so much thought behind everything he does. This was his first solo single and is pretty well known. Duh. It bangs.
19) C.R.E.A.M. – Wu-Tang Clan. I still own many of the Wu-Wear clothing items I purchased as a youngster who loved the brash delivery of Wu-Tang because they have the skills to back it up. As a collective, they have added quite a bit to the lexicon of pop culture. Uhh, ice cream cookie sandwiches anyone?
20) Right On – The Roots. Like I said earlier, just sit back and enjoy Black Thought drop an incredible verse like it was nothing.
21) Izzo (H.O.V.A.) – Jay-Z. Look, I slant away from the mainstream, but I do recognize legends. The real deal. I always thought this song didn’t get enough play, either.
22) 3005 – Childish Gambino. This guy has captured my imagination with his sheer creativity. I’m always excited for what he produces next as an artist and entertainer. I also had fun with making an on-the-fly transition. Seems legit.
23) That’s Love – Oddisee. Since we started with a love joint, it was fitting to also end with one. The slick-talking bravado is something I appreciate from a fan’s perspective, but it’s not who I am. I’m all about the love, and Oddisee is a newer-school hip hop artist that I’ve really come to love and this song will explain why.
Thanks for listening and reading!