Sunday Scaries Volume 4. Hands down my favorite assortment of songs thus far. It's also the first time I've actually been able to finish it on Sunday. You'd be surprised at how much time it takes to scribe these up. And go to school and whatnot. Lesgetit.
1. Blow My High - Kendrick Lamar
I was a Sophomore in high school the first time I heard Kendrick. My family and I were driving up to Colgate University to visit my sister at college for the first time. I was crammed in the back seat, but I'm a biiiig back seat guy so it was a non-issue. I got a text from Fel saying I had to listen to a song called "Hol' Up" by this new rapper Kendrick Lamar, and the moment I turned it on is the moment my obsession began. I was blown the fuck away. I paused halfway through and started "Section.80" (2011) from track one. When we got there I immediately showed my sister, who was totally unimpressed, but still I wasn't swayed. "Section.80" was like nothing I'd ever heard before. Kendrick's rhymes were so intricately intelligent that I had to pause and rewind just to catch on to what the hell he was saying. I considered it a challenge to memorize all the lyrics, and nowadays I'm pretty sure I know every single word to the entire album. On the way home I listened to Overly Dedicated (2010). "Ignorance is Bliss" and "Average Joe" remain two of my favorite hip-hop songs of all time. I chose "Blow My High" off "Section.80" because it references Alliyah, and for some reason last week Alliyah was called to my attention several times. I even found a sweet shirt from her European tour from May, 1995, which is the exact month of my birth. Pretty weird. Maybe also not that weird, but whatever. RIP Alliyah.
I'm glad everybody came out tonight.
As we stand on our neighborhood corner,
Know that this fire that's burning represents the passion you have...
I recognize all of you. Every creed and color.
With that being said, fuck your ethnicity.
2. White Room - Cream
For me, "White Room" represents quintessential Rock & Roll, and since I refuse to let Rock & Roll die, here it is. The band Cream is made up of guitarist Eric Clapton, bassist Jack Bruce, and drummer Ginger Baker. Epic name, that Ginger Baker. They are often considered to be the first "supergroup," with each member being the best-of-the-best at their own individual craft. A group of expert soloists. I have no way of confirming this, but someone once told me that they chose "Cream" because they considered themselves to be the "Cream of the crop." Makes perfect sense if you ask me. "White Room" was actually written by a Poet named Pete Brown, who was trying to describe the way his new flat looked. It comes from the album "Wheels of Fire," which was released in 1968, and became the first-ever album to go Platinum. Clapton became so adored in the 60s that the graffiti-written phrase "CLAPTON IS GOD" started to pop up all over London.
3. Family Business - Kanye West
Langer re-introduced me to "The College Dropout" (2004) recently, and "Family Business" is one of my favorites on it. Kanye's talent is undeniable, which is probably why he's become such a colossal icon nowadays. Check this video out.
4. I Can't Tell You Why - The Eagles
I love The Eagles. I don't even think I have the words to explain just how much I love The Eagles. I've said before that the line from "Take it Easy" that describes a girl slowing down in her flat-bed Ford, just to grab a look, is the greatest lyric ever written. Now I'm not sure if I still stand by that, but I definitely said it at one point, and when I said it, I meant it. I chose "I Can't Tell You Why" over all the other Eagle's tracks because it is one that (a). you've over-looked, or (b). you still haven't even heard yet. Either way that's a damn shame, because it's phenomenal from beginning to end. Right around this exact time last year, I was in an Uber heading to a date-event in Boston. I was with my date in the back (of course), and there were two more groups of dates sitting in the front whom I had never met. We were just about as drunk as you'd expect us to be pre-date event, decked out in tuxedos and dresses. Far below all the other noise, I could hear "I Can't Tell You Why" quietly playing, and so I asked the Uber Man to turn it up. Naturally, I started singing. I have a shit voice but the effort is always there. One of the guys in front me, whose name I forget because remembering names is just simply not my fortè, started singing along as well. My favorite moments are those in which I encounter someone who shares with me an appreciation for an under-appreciated song. I don't need to know anything else about you. If you can sing to "I Can't Tell You Why" with me, you're my god damn boy, blue. We sang the whole thing as our dates laughed at us, and we pulled up to the event just as it finished.
Also, if you haven't already seen the "History of The Eagles" documentary on Netflix, I highly recommend you do so.
5. Baby - Wyclef Jean
A friend of mine showed me this one last Spring. "Baby" comes from Wyclef Jean's 2003 album "The Preacher's Son," and it, too, is severely under-appreciated. In it, Wyclef talks about his desire to do nothing more than lay down with his lover and listen to his favorite music. Some Marvin Gaye, some Isley Brothers, some Teddy Pendergrass. He says that by doing this, he can introduce himself to her, which is an idea that I love. I truly believe with my whole heart that music is a gateway into the soul. If I can understand the music you love, then even if I don't know the individual stories that make up your experience, to some degree I know what makes you tick. My closest and dearest friends are those whose musical tastes I know exactly how to cater to.
Listen to "Between the Sheets" by The Isley Brothers and let me know if you can recognize any other artist who may have sampled it.
6. Married to the Game - DJ Esco feat. Future
7. Might as Well - Future
I couldn't pick between these two, so I'm giving you both. Actually, they work pretty well together. "Married to the Game" is from Esco's "Project E.T." (2013), and "Might as Well" is from FUTURE, which dropped this year. My friend fat joe showed me Married to the Game. It's a short song, only 2:10, but it's captivating. One of those songs that actually fucked me up when I first listened to it. I swear I had it on repeat in the car for a month straight. Payback the Maybach I sit back and lay back and flip through the channels. "Might as Well" is also crazy good. Future makes a reference to Hakeem Olajuwon. I love when rappers bring up the athletes. It's crazy to me. it's like the rappers wanna be athletes and the athletes wanna be rappers. Either way you're ballin'.
8. Vienna - Billy Joel
I started picking up the piano again about a year ago now. Midway through the summer I figured if I just forced myself to learn to play like someone who is lightyears better than me, I'd get better really fast. So every day I was digging through the depths of my mind for some songs with great piano parts. I started out with "Easy" by The Commodores, and "Desperado" by The Eags, and although both songs were super fun to learn, they weren't exactly what I was looking for. Then I heard "New York State of Mind" by Billy Joel on the radio, and I was like holy shit!, this sounds hard as hell, perfect. And so I sat down and played it piece by piece every single day. Sometimes sitting down and literally getting no further than I was the day before. It drove my family nuts. They were like yo that's a great song and all but if I have to listen to you play that same part one more time I'm gonna go batshit crazy. But despite the chirps from peanut gallery I carried on, and as of about a week ago I can play the whole damn thing. The picture at the top of this article is a photo of the room I play the piano in at school. It's this massive, beautiful room in the middle of our dorm that nobody ever goes in. I'll slide through after class for 5 minutes and play "New York State of Mind" 10 times in a row. Thinking that maybe if I log 10,000 hours of it I'll literally just transform into Billy Joel through process of Osmosis. I was playing it the other day, and when I finished I noticed there was someone standing in the room at the top of the stairs. This Australian dude looked down at me and said "mate, that was fuckin' incredible," and walked out the door.
"Vienna" is another great from Joel. The piano riff in the beginning is heavenly. I read on Genius that he hadn't seen his Dad in like twelve years, then found him in Vienna, Austria. The song is about the crossroads we all face in our lives. The strangling feeling that we have to accomplish exactly what's expected of us. In Vienna, Joel asks you to do what you love, and to trust in you're doing so. 'Cuz you can get what you want, or you can just get old.