A Reader staffer shares three musical obsessions, then asks someone (who asks someone else) to take a turn.
Leor Galil, Reader music writer
Vince Ash, “Thoughts” Hammond is home to one of the best underground punk scenes in the country (if not the world), so I keep my ears open for any music that comes out of that northwest Indiana city. And it’s not always punk: when Los Angeles label POW Recordings (founded by inimitable hip-hop journalist Jeff Weiss) released Do or Die, the debut of Hammond rapper Vince Ash, I gave it a listen at my first opportunity. The blunt, sullen “Thoughts” demonstrates why rap storytelling is an art form.
Jet magazine’s May 1973 interview with Curtis Mayfield Every time I stop by Hyde Park Records, I spend a little time thumbing through the shop’s back issues of Jet. I recently bought a copy of the magazine from May 31, 1973, that features Chicago soul legend Curtis Mayfield on the cover. Super Fly had come out the previous year, and the Oscars snubbed Mayfield’s soundtrack for the film—not that he seemed to care much. “I’m glad I was in a position to let everybody see what the Academy Awards are—a personalized social club with exclusive members,” he said. And every Oscar season, we have a chance to see that again.
Earcave I love this online music retailer so much that I have to ration my visits—I can’t afford even half the things it’s selling that I desperately want. Run by Andrew Morgan, founder of the Peoples Potential Unlimited label, and likewise based in D.C., Earcave is where I go for the finest import boogie reissues, private-press dance 12-inches, and of course PPU’s own ace releases.
Leor is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Sasha Tycko, writer and editor for The Sick Muse, DJ
Yaeji, “Feel It Out” Yaeji’s Soundcloud bio says “I’m into it all.” She’s a New York-based DJ, producer, vocalist, and visual artist, and all those roles come together in her live sets (which I’ve only caught on YouTube). The way she sings and raps the vocal parts on her own tracks in the midst of a DJ set reminds me of Drake calling More Life a “playlist.” She’s a creator and a curator. “Feel It Out” includes a lyric that I’ve taken as a personal reminder recently: “See that there is more than one thing / Open up in a new way.”
Bjork‘s video for “Arisen My Senses” I love the visuals for Bjork’s 2017 album Utopia: the utopia they imagine is sensual, messy, feminine, androgynous, synthetic, and animal. I’m equally touched by the collaborations that helped make this utopia: drag makeup by Hungry, silicone headpieces and masks by James Merry, music videos by Jesse Kanda, and coproduction by Arca. I sense kinship in the way they talk about each other in interviews, and it’s made literal in the video for “Arisen My Senses”—Bjork and Arca are attached by a sort of umbilical cord. Their real-life friendship and onscreen experiments with the body are part of a queer utopia I want in on.
Lafawndah My friend just turned me on to Lafawndah. Her globe-trotting beats ask my body to move in all kinds of ways, and I’m mesmerized by her voice, which floats over them all. When my friend saw Lafawndah open for Kelela in the fall, she just played her instrumental tracks off a laptop—which is so confident and DIY.
Sasha is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Jared Brown, Artist, writer, and founder of Central Air Radio on WHPK
Black and Brown Punk Show Festival 2017 A typical summer afternoon in Pilsen becomes life-changing. Why? Because I’m attending a kid-friendly queer punk fest dedicated to black and brown musicians. A group of four black women from Los Angeles take the stage and begin tuning their instruments. They introduce themselves as Fuck U Pay Us, or FUPU for short—a clever homage to American fashion house FUBU (“For Us, by Us”). Their set begins with what feels like a prelude to an immersive, accessible manifesto about liberation, better access to resources, reparations, and oral sex. Almost before I realize it, I’m moshing in a crowd of mostly black and brown queer femmes as the band yells SUCK MY NAPPY BLACK PUSSY. I’ll never forget how much love I felt among everyone that afternoon. I’m transported back there every time I hear FUPU’s live album.
Chae Buttuh, HoFi: A Collection of Glam Trap & Hoe Hymns These songs by North Carolina rapper Chae Buttuh prove how important it is for us to widen our understanding of who gets to be a riot grrrl. Not all riot-grrrl stories are about an existential suburban isolation crisis. Some riot-grrrl stories are about sex work, sugar daddies, and trade.
Roy Kinsey, Blackie It’s inspiring me to trace my family’s lineage back to Mississippi. This album by queer-identified Chicago poet, rapper, and librarian Roy Kinsey beautifully commemorates black matriarchs and the blues while inviting us to conceptualize a sustainable future.