Smokin’

For when you get high and you want to listen to some music and get lost in conversation about a weird topic. This is the playlist. Also if you would like to know more about some of the songs and my strange personal connections to each of them please read below.

Playlist:

Playlist Link

Untitled 03

It’s astounding that Lamar’s reject pile from To Pimp a Butterfly was as good as it was. This short but impactful project has left its impact on me in more ways than one. If I am being honest (yet probably will be met with backlash). I enjoyed this more than the whole album :0. HOWEVER, I am aware that the impact was completely different and that the cultural importance of To Pimp a Butterfly will likely never be matched. This song, in particular, I added as it was one of the first times I remember understanding a cultural and empirical critique of our social climate. This project came out when I was 16 and just starting to get a grasp on what reality is and how it is very different for everyone based on the intersectionalities that we all live with on a day-to-day basis. The commentary of our own perceptions of cultures is based on stereotypes thrust upon us by the societal expectations of minorities, specifically black people. The line “I shall enjoy the fruits of my labor if I get freed today”, is poignant for many reasons. The cultural impact of Black people actually getting credit, money, or any of the things that they are owed for the labor they have put into this country would be revolutionary. It has yet to happen, but in small increments, there are tiny tiny amounts of change. The message in this song is one that I as a white-passing person consider often and because it was in many ways an awakening to the privilege that I carry with me on a day-to-day basis it has a special place for me in my mind and my heart. In many ways, it was an awakening of compassion.

Roses

This song is a classic for many reasons, but it would be impossible for me to examine without taking in the context of the album. Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, in my opinion, is one of the best albums of all time. I think it created a layer of sounds and cultural tie-ins that I find more and more of every time I listen. The most recent one I realized is that this album in many ways is set up like a play. Two acts, musical motifs, overtures, and all the queues that make an epic play. This album also holds a significant place in my heart based on the music I grew up on. Not only did Hey Ya! grasp my entire generation, but the jazz and southern music influence, in general, is very prominent in the production of this album. I grew up essentially in a New Orleans suburb, a long-forgotten gem on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. We on the gulf coast have many many issues, but the music that I grew up with definitely shaped the music I listen to now. Although it’s obvious that Atlanta is very different from New Orleans the ties and influence are there. OK now that I am done glorifying this album. Roses is a classic due to just the hook. Like are you kidding me? Shit don’t stank, it’s the better version of rich girl by Hall and Oates. I know all the old white men are gonna jump down my throat when I say that. Don’t get me wrong that is a good song but there is no way that it is composed or articulated better than how Roses is able to portray apathy and hate at the same time.

Blow My High

Surprise Surprise. It’s another Kendrick song. This early Kendrick song is in this playlist for one reason only. It’s catchy it’s melodic and it’s just downright good. The Aaliyah sample and references combined with the Jay Z interpolation and the Dexter Wansel samples culminate in this amazing ode to Aaliyah and the legacy that she left and the potential that she held. It also just feels timeless and a staple of an era.

ATLiens

This album recently turned 25. Which to be honest is older than me. This is not surprising as there is a plethora of music that has been in existence longer than I have been alive, however, this song feels different due to its ability to be beyond a moment. This is one of those songs where I happily oblige the narrator and throw my hands in the air and wave them like I just don’t care. Containing a whopping 5 samples while maintaining originality is no easy feat. There is very little Andre 3000 cannot do. Many of the samples are otherworldly sound effects to give the song the space feeling. However, I feel the most interesting one is the Goodfellas sample.

Forbidden Fruit

I think this is a fantastic song to smoke weed to. It is funny, calm, and spontaneous, it has a sneaky Kendrick feature, and it in itself offers a lot. The Bitch adlibs are my personal favorite. But the sampling in this song is one that I will always remember. A majority of the melody and beat come from a song called Mystic Brew by Ronnie Foster. The song has clear ties to jazz and funk. That combined with the interpolations of Jay-Z’s iconic line “what you eat don’t make me shit” from the song Heart of the City (ain’t no love) off of the iconic Blueprint album. As well as the bible verse interpolation of psalm 23 which has also been in Tupac and Kanye. The quote walking through the shadow of the valley of death is a metaphor that can be applied in many situations. This song is one that I would argue is a staple of its time. In an era where there were very few rappers that had the recognition of a Kanye West or Jay Z., There is an argument to be made that J.Cole fought for his spot next to them.

Life’s a Bitch

There is no correct way that I can analyze this song because I am not from New York nor am I a Black man. However, the sample from The Gap Band is one that I feel deserves more recognition. Also, the sentiment that life is a bitch and then we die, is one that I can relate to in the context of monotony. Yearning for your love by The Gap b and has been sampled many many times in various entities throughout rap music. I don’t really need to explain why this song is important, and if I do you might be too young to listen to this playlist.

High

High by Freddie Gibbs and Madlib is on this playlist for many reasons the title is included. But the sampling in this song is layered and historic. The first sample is I Get High by Pure Magic. Clearly a perfect sample for the context of this song. Freddie Gibbs’ voice is one that is unique in many ways as well as a little jarring which is the best way to wake yourself up when you slip a little too far into the couch :). The interpolation of Biggie’s intro from Sky’s the limit is a subtle nod to the rapper’s influence in rap and the legacy left for many to follow. This song also samples You Make Life Beautiful by Pure Magic. I assume Freddie found their music and just puts it on when he is high, but again that is my assumption. Overall Madlib makes this song what it is and it is a great song to get high to.

Heavenly Father

I am emotionally attached to like every song, but this one, in particular, has some pretty dark and deep lyrics that are linked to some dark places in my life, It was nice to know that I was not the only one that got that low. There is only one sample in this song. Which is Lord Hold Me in Your Arms. I find this song to be important to our generation for many reasons as this song is one of the many to question God and religious beliefs, especially in the United States. The lyrics within this song are important for many reasons but the theme of questioning authority is one that should be analyzed and taken into consideration by every listener. I am not promoting you to question god. But if you cannot question your authority without the authority is right, is that authority worth following?

Fall In Love

This is a sweet song with an amazing outro. It was later sampled by the likes of Chance the Rapper (Everybody’s Something) and Ty Dolla $ign (Lord Knows). The song itself samples Iron Butterfly and Gap Mangione. This song is sweet to me just because the context of the lyrics “fall[ing] in love with the things [that we] do” can apply to another person or finally push us to do things we love.

Doomsday

This song is just a classic for many reasons. I cannot describe to you what MF DOOM did for the rap community if you would like to find out there is a link to a video you could watch: here. RIP and Thank you.

Chum

Earl is so good at what he does that we don’t even realize it half the time. The only sample in this song is the beat and it is called Humpty Dump. Which I find to be incredibly funny. This song has been sampled over and over throughout rap history. But Earl’s cadence and lyrical ability have yet to be matched in my opinion. I think he speaks to a group of people that are hard to be spoken to and it's also very difficult to get them to listen.

November Has Come

more MF DOOM content. With a non-credited feature on a Gorillaz song. These two, have contributed so much to music but I often feel as though they do not get enough credit for the contributions they make to the music we listen to today. The Gorillaz revolutionized the way we absorb and dilute synths and the way we interpret the story of a song. They also restructured how to be a famous person. Their true identities are not the identities thrust into the spotlight. The concept of their fame is one that will confound and amaze me for the rest of my life.

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