Firstly, I'd like to point out that I am the kind of person who breaks out in hives and sweats buckets through my windbreaker whenever I am asked what my favourite song or artist at the moment is. So, I think it's just easier for me to discuss some classics and/or future classics with you.
1. Cherrelle | Saturday Love (feat. Alexander O'Neal)
The first tune I've chosen has proven its infinite relevancy. It's a song by Cherrelle featuring none other than Alexander O'Neal called Saturday Love. I can't really remember the first time I heard this song, but I'm willing to go out on a limb and say it was either my mum playing it in the car and refusing to put in my brother's East-Coast Rap CD courtesy of Limewire; Or the latter, at an African party begrudgingly attended for access to as much chicken and Supermalt than my young mind could process. Either way it kind of struck a chord, it embodies the 80s, pencil moustache, linen trousers, Hawaiian shirt sound that people have been trying to replicate recently with little success. I wasn't sure whether to choose this song over a Chaka Khan song for the same reason, in the end I went with this for the simple fact that I know I am not alone on loving this song. Toro Y Moi did a brilliant cover a couple of years back and the song's been sampled by Glasses Malone, Sway & SpaceGhostPurrp to name a few. For a song that's approaching 30 years old it blends seamlessly in sets with music from this age.
2. SBTRKT & Sampha | Evening Glow
The second song I have chosen is such a vivid memory, I remember tuning into ROOD.FM around 2010 just to zone out of my teenage angst for a bit. The crescendo at around two minutes in, the faint mallet sound and the pads were so awe-inspiring to me on the first couple of listens and still is executed so well. It actually clicked for me that I wanted to make a tune like that. At that point in time I wasn't even taking Production that seriously and only friends IRL followed my music. After clicking the repeat button a ridiculous amount of times on a YouTube rip, I opened up Ableton and made a song which began to sound less and less like Evening Glow with every layer of sound I put on. I crudely named that song Morning Sickness as an ode, but that was only the second song that I bothered to finish and the first song of mine to be played on FM & digital radio.
3. Gucci Mane | Lemonade
I don't even know what to say about this song, or Gucci Mane. I suppose I should start by saying fuck Young Jeezy. As much as people doubt Gucci's lyrical ability he's one of the few MCs of his ilk that can keep a lyrical theme across 4 verses and as many choruses. For me, this song is up there with 10 Crack Commandments or Mathematics by Mos Def and better than all of Tupac's songs put together. I remember when I first heard Gucci Mane and I tried really hard to suppress my innate love for the guy, like John Travolta, I was deeply closeted, but by the release of The State Against Radric Davis and Lemonade in particular I was out and proud.
4. Bobby Caldwell | What You Won't Do For Love
This record is truly timeless and infinitely relevant. This song in particular is a track that people of my age group have no direct point of reference to, it's a record you borrow from your dad's collection or you do you research on or a song you have to Shazam because you heard it on the radio. It's a segway song to an era of a lot of brilliant Pop Music. Caldwell's stood the test of time as well, this song was sampled in the only Tupac track that can compete with a Gucci Mane track - Do For Love. More recently, Sampha produced a blinder for a Jessie Ware cover of this song and Sasha Keable dropped a couple of lines into her track Asking For More. A track that appeals to the amorous side in even the most infamous thug life advocate.
5. OutKast | Prototype
I'm not even certain why this song made the list over any other OutKast song. I think it must be the weather at the moment. But advancing climate change aside, I've always loved this song. The song Prototype from the Matter EP was named after this song despite having nothing to do with it. I remember heading down to the cybercafe when I just started Secondary School so me and my friends could play Runescape together. The manager of the cafe always played a couple of the singles from Speakerboxxx & The Love Below to motivate me to pwn n00bz. The singles which everyone loved were Hey Ya! and Roses, but the album tracks and some of the tracks that weren't released in the UK as singles were brilliant. OutKast are really sure of their identities as artists which is what makes their records so distinct. They were a definite precursor to the edgy rappers that have the platform today. I can't wait for the reunion.
6. Akala | Roll Wid Us (Dexplicit Remix)
I remember this song very well, in the UK in the early 00s there was a channel on satellite TV called Channel U. The first port of call for budget videos and 8-bar relay tunes. I was home alone on a Friday, at around 2:00 am when they showed all the dirty budget videos and this song came on after So Grimey by So Solid or a video of similar naughtiness. I probably remember the Riko and Jammer verses bar for bar, that's how much I rinsed this song. The original instrumental had a nice string section but was neither here nor there in terms of showerman riddims (great songs), but Dexplicit flipped it in a way only he is capable of. His signature clap patterns and hi hat chops as well as the energy from the Murkleman on the vocal really make it a time-capsule for Channel U and Grime before it imploded.
7. Hype Williams | The Throning (Sade's 'The Sweetest Taboo' Cover)
This is the song that got me into Hype Williams and loads of the other Lo-Fi outfits that were around at the time. It's another one of those segway tunes that I mentioned before. My parents are both massive fans of Sade, so much so that they call her by her full name as if they had met, ever. This cover was approached in such a tasteful way. I find too often that people take the Jason Derulo approach to covering a song which lacks subtlety as well as the charm of the original. The guys from Hype Williams just took a tune and stripped it back, it's true to their sound pallet as well as Sade's.
8. Musiq Soulchild | So Beautiful (Lapalux's Bootleg Remix)
I can't even begin to think how Lapalux does it, I've tried myself, to deconstruct his style and I even gave one futile attempt at replicating his sound. It can't be done by anyone other than Lapalux. This song reminds me of one of my first gigs. I was still underage in the dingiest green room I've been in. It was in the very top floor of the Old Blue Last and I was hanging out with a couple of DJs and bands that were playing the same gig. I was intimidated to say the least, they were all older, had more experience and they were immeasurably cooler than me. The type of kids you hang out with because your parents hate them. Skip an hour forward and I am playing on the bottom floor, where you have to walk past to see the band you actually want to see. I play this song and as I finally build up the courage to look away from my computer and feign some sort of stage presence, I see a lot more nodding heads than I did before I went on. The promotor for that gig keeps on signalling me to play more songs until I just play for another hour. Still probably one of the best gigs I've played.
9. Kelis | Jerk Ribs (Mount Kimbie Remix)
I like jerk ribs the food so it's only natural that I am banging this tune out on a regular. Mount Kimbie stamped Moog all over the Kelis vocal and it sounds exactly like it ought to. Me and a couple of friends of mine have been really excited about this song. I only heard this a couple weeks back so I am yet to have any anecdotes attached to this, but I am sure in the future I will slip on a banana skin as the synths wind in Stereo.
10. Aaliyah | More Than A Woman
I don't really have to push this track on anyone, people already know how good it is or they are about to find out. Timbaland's production is second to none and it was really before its time. If anyone cares about my music after I die then I'll have succeeded in doing something that only the likes of Aaliyah has managed in genres as saturated as our respective genres. I think what is most remarkable about Aaliyah as an artist, was the breadth of her appeal. Her, TLC and SWV were amongst the first to really propel Contemporary R&B onto the main stage.