Photo by Weldon Grover
1. RJD2 | De L'Alouette
I think definitely I have to choose this one as my first, I heard it in an ad for Adidas during the 2006 World Cup, when I was 16, and I'm not sure exactly what happened inside of me, but I loved that ad so much I felt compelled to research the Music, and finding RJD2 was such a wonderful thing. His album Since We Last Spoke is so good. I burned it and played it in my mom's car a lot and she really liked it too which I thought was so cool. I remember driving up to Lake Powell in Utah with her and my sister the summer just before my Senior Year of High School and playing that album a lot because I was just not able to get over it.
2. Médine | 11 Septembre
I grew up in Brussels, Belgium, and me and my brother Mhamed would listen to a lot of Rap and that really really peaked with a French rapper named Médine and his song 11 Septembre. The political climate when I first heard it was pretty warm and his song resonated deeply with me. I wish people that don't speak French could've experienced the feeling that that song gave out, and all the knowledge it packs. My dad's from Morocco, and my mom from Oakland and her parents were Irish and Puerto Rican. They are both fascinating people, and we often spoke about History and political scandals at the house, so it kinda went back and forth between that and the Music. It was a way to get motivated about learning more things, about Mankind and its irrational and violent behavior. As a young teenager, I think that was important. Médine definitely didn't give us answers, but he opened doors and got us curious with Music and I really respect that and hope I can do that with my own work.
3. Kanye West | Family Business
I should probably include my biggest influence, Kanye West, in the playlist, it's just so hard to pick a song, so I'm gonna pick a few. Definitely Family Business, I connect with so many things in the song and the beat is such a classic.
4. Kanye West | Home
The original version of Home from Freshmen Adjustment is so dope. It hit me pretty hard when I was in High School.
5. Kanye West | I Am A God
For more recent, my favorite song from Yeezus right now is I Am A God. The samples and the rhymes and the beautiful attention to detail make him such a fantastic artist. He's inspired me to do better musically. He inspires so many people, and his ability to take on the critics and rise above them is something that I truly respect. I could write a few books about my thoughts on Kanye, but it would be so disorganized. He's just such an icon of Change and Improvement, I truly thank him for all his efforts, he's made my life and the lives of thousands, if not millions, a lot better with his contributions to Art.
6. Das Racist | Amazing (feat. Lakutis)
Gonna give my nod to Das Racist too, I like their song Amazing a lot, it gets me everytime. That Nautica jacket line from Lakutis is forever. The beat from Keepaway is flawless, and Heems and Kool are just absolutely unstoppable. Me and my brother rap the words back and forth so much, I don't think their verses will ever get old, and I love that so much.
7. Javelin | Tu Machina
I like Javelin a lot, their song Tu Machina is really good. They toured with Yeasayer, but when Yeasayer came to Phoenix it was with a different band and that was disappointing. I really like Yeasayer too, Red Cave is really good and if you look up the lyrics on SongMeanings.com, which is a great website by the way, they mention that they are a direct translation of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch which is the longest town name in the World.
8. Panda Bear | You Can Count On Me
I rediscovered Panda Bear's You Can Count On Me recently. At first I would skip it, like, but I think I've connected with it at a deeper level recently and it's such an incredible song. His songwriting influences me a lot and I have yet to decode that album (Tomboy). I tend to do that though with a lot of Music. When a song is so good I'm just like I have to figure out what's going on here. Ideally I pick up my guitar and sort out the melody and the bass and then it's like, wow, some of the song structures are just absolutely brilliant. Benfica is one that comes to mind, because the chords sound like their changing when they are simply repeating with a different note at the top, but, yeah, some of Panda's tricks are just really really tasteful.
9. The Beatles | Dear Prudence
My last official job was working for SkyMall, they sell things out of magazines that are distributed on planes, and I remember going to my friend who recommended me for the job's house and playing The Beatles: Rock Band for the first time and unintentionally getting really high and my friends played that song and it was kinda magical hearing it with the beautiful PS3 visuals. I started listening to the band more often after that, not that I didn't before, I just relistened to their catalogue and that song stuck with me the most.
10. The Jimi Hendrix Experience | Bold As Love
Also flash from the past, this one hit me hard last year. It was played on the last Match Of The Day episode of the 12/13 season when Sir Alex Ferguson retired after winning the Premier League. I'm a big big Manchester United fan, and I remember having a pretty deep moment as the song closed the season, thinking back to getting into Football when Manchester won against Bayern Munich in 1999 and how that's how I got into Music and how an era was ending. And now I'm 24 and it's just very very heavy to think of all these things and that song somehow made it OK.
+11. Kool A.D. | Open Letter
This one is dope, I feel like Kool is the rapper I relate to and respect the most at the Internet Blogosphere level and that song hits me in so many ways. The lyrical offerings are just so great, it's so inspiring.
+12. Kilo Kish | Navy
I'll say Kilo Kish's Navy kinda changed my life when I first heard it a few weeks ago. I was talking with this girl from Belgium on this website Tastebuds.fm and asked for Music recommendations and that was one of them. There's something about Kilo's voice and delivery and lyrics that make the song extremely palpable. I kinda miss Belgium sometimes, I want to visit soon. I was hoping to tour there but the agents I've been in contact with have all backed out for whatever reason. I think it's kinda dumb, it sucks that people around the World are not getting exposed to my Music. I think it could help them, and it could for sure help me grow as a person so that I can get even bigger ideas out.
+13. Lil Wayne | A Milli
Dope, dope, dope song. I didn't get into Weezy until very recently and it kinda hit me that he has some excellent word play and swag and approach to Music and that song packs it all together nicely. It's also fun to listen to when people are giving you shit. It's a total flaunt track and it really relaxes me.
+14. MF Doom | Hoe Cakes
I really like DOOM's work, his approach to Identity as a Musician influenced me a lot. His brother died when he was younger and he kinda got screwed over by a record label at the same time and I think that sort of experience, where you are faced with such incredible adversity, brings out the best in musicians. It's really awful to think about, that we have to go through these things to improve, but the World is kinda weird so it is what it is. I think DOOM for sure has this really great taste for things, and that's why his songs are timeless. He's super OG, doesn't give two fucks, but has an amazing way of looking cool and attractive in the process. The taste goes all the way, and his rhymes on Hoe Cakes are just so wonderfully crafted and meshed in with the beat. It's very different, but it makes so much sense. It's Songwriting at its best.
+15. Tessela | Hackney Parrot
Lastly, I really really like Tessela's Hackney Parrot/Helter Skelter. It helped so much with motivation while I was drawing the frames for the 20 Million Music Video. The sound is just so fresh. It's taking these old beats, but redesigning them in this super left field but totally dope way. All the drops, ugh, they're so good. Electronic Music is so great in that sense, how the form can just change overnight, and then you get excited about everything in your Life again.