Our managing editor-at-large and news editor have been talking a big game about crafting the perfect “hip-hop, R&B, soul/funk” playlist for months. Now with quarantine granting them more than a few additional hours, they took the time to compile some of their favorites.
Briah’s pick: “Alone Not Lonely” — Cousin Mouth (2018)
I love discovering new bands, especially ones no one has really ever heard of. I hate to be one of those “Oh, I knew them before they even got big!” people. But for these boys? I just have to. (I’m a little obsessed with them).
Based in Detroit, Mich., Cousin Mouth is the city’s best kept secret. Lead singer Alex Burns and producer Lexi make what I would describe as ‘rock-soul.’ Burns’ raspy vocals over Lexi’s soulful R&B beats is a combination I never knew I needed.
Their debut album “Medusa” slaps from start to finish and provides classics that you’ll keep running back for more.
Céilí’s pick: “Show Me Love” — Hundred Waters ft. Chance the Rapper, Moses Sumney & Robin Hannibal [Skrillex Remix] (2016)
Pairing Chance the Rapper’s playful lyricism with Moses Sumney’s soulful crooning may seem a bit at odds with the Hundred Water’s original, “Show Me Love.” It’s a simple song, barely over a minute long, remincient more of a prayer sung by techno church choir than a banger remixed by an EDM giant.
But producer Robin Hannibal and Skrillex knew what they were doing.
Sure, Chance rapping about enjoying “cases of Coronas” along with his marijuana may hit a little different ... mid-pandemic ... four years later. But this song will have you bouncing around from your childhood bedroom to your parents’ living room — providing some much-needed relief from the coronavirus news cycle — while bestowing its listeners a message of grace in the form of Sumney and Hundred Waters’ harmony.
Briah’s pick: “Whoa” — Snoh Aalegra (2019)
This song reminds me again and again what it means to be in love. Even in the midst of being mad at your man, you can play this song and almost instantly forget what you were upset about. (But not for too long.)
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Snoh Aalegra’s “ugh, those feels again” was easily one of the best R&B albums of 2019. Like, no question. But her music is not for the weak hearted. If you cry easily, she may not (or may be?) the artist for you.
If you love music about being in love, Snoh’s the girl for you. Her music without a doubt will make you daydream about that certain someone. (At least I know it does for me.)
Céilí’s pick: “Paradise” — Daniel Caesar ft. BADBADNOTGOOD & Sean Leon
Daniel Caesar is a gift to humankind. This album in particular, “Pilgrim’s Paradise,” is a force to be reckoned with, and “Paradise” is a beautiful example of Caesar’s ability to write introspectively with the help of the greatest modern instrumental ensemble, BADBADNOTGOOD.
When Sean Leon raps about how Caesar used to “pray on [his] spaceship,” you feel like you’re on a spaceship, and that’s all thanks to BADBADNOTGOOD’s alternative jazz/funk-infused beat.
It's smartly produced, but more importantly, it’s the kind of song that sits with you long after you’ve turned off the ignition or handed over the aux. It’ll tug at your headphones, demanding one more listen.
Briah’s pick: “Show Me” — Mac Ayres (2017)
What I wouldn’t do for a man who can play guitar.
Mac Ayres is angelic. I think I’ve watched every YouTube video that exists with him in it, and I still can’t get over his voice. He has the ability to turn anything into a smooth, jazzy love song. “Show Me” off his debut album is no different.
There isn’t a single song on any of his three albums that I dislike. His music is perfect for any occasion. Personally, I’d hire the man to sing me lullabies before bed. I’m just in love with him if you can’t tell.
Céilí’s pick: “Bye Bye Symphony” — Foxy Shazam (2009)
Quarantine got you down?
Feeling oh so sad and sorry for yourself?
The first time I heard Foxy Shazam’s “Bye Bye Symphony,” I was just happy the boy I had liked for so many years was finally reciprocating any kind of romantic feeling through music. Turns out the boy wasn’t worth my time ... but the song has been, nearly ten times over.
Channeling the power of a Freddie Mercury-esque ballad, “Bye Bye Symphony” leaves no prisoners. It demands us to have faith that good will prosper even in the hour of our deepest despair. Lead vocalist Eric Nally urges the listener to leave their moaning for the ghosts and “keep an open eye to the sky.”
This song has gotten me through some of my darkest days, and I hope it will lend some hope to you as well.
“Life is a bitch, but she’s totally doable.”