WARMER MIXTAPES #1084 | by Avriel Epps [King avriel]

1. OutKast | Take Off Your Cool (feat. Norah Jones)
I can’t begin to explain how much I love the combination of André 3000 and features. Every time he is featured on a song it is an unexpected masterpiece (think Pink Matter - Frank Ocean, Party - Beyoncé), and his decision to put Norah on this song was genius. The arrangement is beautiful and brings complexity to such a simple song with a beautiful concept. I’ve spent my life trying to be comfortable taking off my cool and I felt this song was magically poignant from the very first time I heard it.

2. Frank Ocean | Pyramids
The arrangement is brilliant on this song! Also, Frank’s ability to weave three different story lines into one song and one unifying concept is masterful. The character development and imagery is equally extraordinary. He taught us about History, provided a social commentary on the Ancient History of the Black Woman, and made the whole thing sound sexy and sad at the same time. I truly believe he is the only one who could do that so well.

3. Kendrick Lamar | The Art Of Peer Pressure
This song shows Kendrick’s story telling ability at its best. When I first heard the song, I felt like Kendrick was telling the male version of my life at 17: reckless teenage years, driving around LA looking for trouble, giving into the peer pressure of my friends, experimenting with drugs and alcohol, and doing illegal shit.

4. The Jimi Hendrix Experience | Foxy Lady
This song always puts me in a good mood. It’s my imaginary theme song when I walk out of the house, ready to go out. Jimi Hendrix is the ultimate male sex symbol in my opinion, which probably explains why I love André 3000 so much. They remind me of each other. I’m excited to see André play Jimi in the biopic he just finished.

5. Lauryn Hill | To Zion (feat. Carlos Santana)
I first heard this song when I was 8 years old, and even as a child, first listening to this album, this song stuck out to me. I listened to it over and over again and transcribed the lyrics into my journal because they felt so special to me. The way she portrays her relationship with her son is beautiful. The song writing is so honest and unpolished, as if she just had to get this song out of her and dedicate it to him no matter how imperfect it is. This reflects the messiness of mother-child relationships too — perfectly imperfect and heartfelt. Lauryn took such a risk to write about something so deeply personal on a project that largely dealt with larger societal issues and it paid off. Also, the interlude at the end is perfect.

6. Bon Iver | Skinny Love
This is my most played song in my iTunes. It has been since 2009 when I first was introduced to Bon Iver. It is haunting and puts me in the best mood to write poetry and short stories.

7. Aretha Franklin | Ain’t No Way
Aretha is a king. This song is a powerhouse. The epitome of Soul in my opinion. Not much else I can say about it.

8. Usher | Superstar
The Confessions album changed my life. It was the first time I truly became a fan girl and convinced me that I wanted to be a Pop star. Usher was my everything for about 2 years. I insisted everyone call me Mrs. Raymond, and I successfully became known as Usher’s biggest fan at my High School in the 9th grade. I even won tickets to see his Confessions tour from KIIS FM! This was one of my favorite cuts off that album because I always wished the tables would turn eventually and Usher would be a groupie for me one day.

9. Arvo Pärt | Für Alina (Performed by Alexander Malter)
One of my favorite Minimalist composers, this piece shows how talented Pärt is at creating hauntingly beautiful music with just a few piercing notes. I went through a serious Impressionist phase in Classical Music as a teenager, but the first time I heard this song, I was yanked out of it and became obsessed with Minimalism. Through Pärt, I eventually found Phillip Glass and my ideas of Classical Music were forever changed.

10. Kanye West | Say You Will
Speaking of my fixation on Minimalism, this song was a Production masterpiece — so simple, yet so powerful. Also, Drake’s Say What’s Real was the first song of his I’d heard which made the original even more special to me. Kanye is one of my biggest inspirations. He’s risky, boundary-pushing, passionate, and the truest Artist in Hip Hop in my opinion— there will never be another like him.