A Reader staffer shares three musical obsessions, then asks someone (who asks someone else) to take a turn.
Leor Galil, Reader staff writer
Awesome L, Awesome L & His Posse I recently found a sealed copy of this 1989 Chicago rap LP. Local rap didn’t tend to get released on vinyl in those days, and the records that did were often one-offs produced by musicians who knew house music better than hip-hop. But Awesome L & His Posse doesn’t come off like it was made by hip-hop outsiders, and that’s thanks to MC Awesome L. His ease and ferocity on the mike showed real promise—even though he was foolhardy enough to rip on rap king Rakim on two different tracks.
Dolores O’Riordan If you were an American middle-school kid in the mid-90s whose only source of new music was corporate rock radio and you didn’t feel punched in the gut the first time you heard the Cranberries’ “Zombie,” did you even grow up in the 90s? Front woman Dolores O’Riordan died January 15 at age 46. I’ll be honest, I’m not familiar with too many of her songs—but the ones I do know burned themselves into my brain years ago, and I’m sure they’ll stay there for many more to come.
Brockhampton What’s not to love about a boy band whose 15 members include their webmaster? What’s not to love about group leader Kevin Abstract rapping about being gay, when so many other MCs can’t even handle other people being gay? What’s not to love about their immersive Saturation trilogy? I say all this because I’m still adding to a lengthy Twitter thread in which I make my case to join Brockhampton—come on, guys, put me in!
Leor is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Ciera Mckissick, founder and curator of AMFM gallery
Santana’s Amigos on vinyl Nowadays most younger people know Santana from Rihanna’s “Wild Thoughts,” which samples his 1999 hit “Maria Maria.” I picked up his 1976 album Amigos at a thrift store, and it’s become an integral part of my mornings. The album art is vibrant and psychedelic, with elephants, lions, and trees in Technicolor. Amigos is Santana’s seventh studio LP, and produced the minor U.S. hit “Let It Shine,” its only song to highlight bassist David Brown (the album was also Brown’s last with the group). “Let It Shine” is actually my least favorite song on Amigos—it’s a bit too disco and gospel for me—but I could listen to “Dance Sister Dance (Baila Mi Hermana)” on repeat, because it makes me do just that.
Jaden Smith Will and Jada Pinkett Smith have beautifully eccentric children who’ve become celebrities in their own right. I knew Willow made music, but I’d never much heard Jaden’s, so I went down a rabbit hole with the videos from his November 2017 studio album Syre (which follows mixtapes in 2012 and 2014). The videos are simple and lovely, with backdrops of picturesque nature and city shots. “Batman” is my favorite, featuring Smith as Bruce Wayne and as a modern-day hipster Batman clad in all white instead of the traditional black.
Freddie Old Soul, “Lost” “Lost,” the sixth track on Freddie Old Soul’s latest EP, All Black Trill Shit, is hard-hitting yet ethereal, due to the local MC’s poetic verses and the ghostly production by Noahs Art. Her song haunts my speakers.
Ciera is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Via Rosa, singer in the duo Drama
“Un Poco Loco” from the movie Coco This movie was breathtaking from beginning to end. The scene in particular that struck home for me was the first time we hear Miguel sing. His character is forbidden from expressing his musical talents, so you really feel him break loose. I see a lot of myself in this scene, not because I was forbidden from singing by my family (it’s quite the opposite) but because for a long time I was in denial about how much music meant to me. So seeing him let go of his fear of singing—and of being heard and being on a stage—was very powerful.
Food and Fela My heart belongs to music and food, and if any artist can help me connect those loves, it’s Fela. My parents being musicians, I grew up in a house filled with all kinds of musicians, one of whom played for Fela. He went by ID, and he taught me about macrobiotic food and all the cool knife cuts I didn’t understand. When my mom was six months pregnant with me, they saw Fela at Liberty Lunch in Austin. I still cook to Afrobeat to honor them both. Dancing to Fela’s “Expensive Shit” goes great with making macrobiotic mushroom-barley soup.
Amr Diab, “Tamally Maak” I listen to music from all over the world with my best friend, producer Na’el Shehade, the other half of Drama. When he played me this Egyptian hit from 2000, I instantly fell in love. I don’t know exactly what it’s about, but it reminds me how powerful music can be. Its melodies are so beautiful and enchanting—it’s an undeniable track that I’ll never get tired of.