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For the past three years, Nova Scotia's Skratch Bastid and New York City's Cosmo Baker have been putting out their annual "Songs We Listened To A Lot" mixes, where they select their favourite tracks and make one great mix together. Unlike other DJs, whose best-of mixes are strictly calendar-based, the world-traveling duo aren't afraid to dig deep in their crates and find little known or unheard gems.
This year's edition, which THUMP is proud to present, is no exception. It features everything from Brazilian swing to classic soul jams to today's hip-hop anthems. No matter what your tastes are, you'll discover something new here (and yes, that's Killer Mike and Bernie Sanders in the artwork).
Check out the tracklist and read Skratch and Cosmo's commentary on a handful of the song choices below.
Sly 5th Avenue Orchestra - Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe
Marlena Shaw/Bleuboy - Remember Me (Jim Sharp Remix)
Gregory Porter - Liquid Spirit
Disclosure feat. Sam Smith - Omen
JNTHN STEIN & Brasstacks - Dreaming At The FUNKtion (Skratch Bastid Biggie Edit)
Redman - Beastin'
Jamie xx w/ Young Thug & Popcaan - Good Times
A-Trak & Zhu & Keznamdi - As Crazy As It Is
Mura Masa - Lovesick Fuck
Jorge Ben - Ponta De Lanca Africano (Umbabaraumba)
Los Destellos - Elsa
Bobby Caldwell & Jack Splash w/ Jessie Ware - Break Away
Leon Bridges - Better Man
Allen Toussaint - Sweet Touch Of Love
Kendrick Lamar - Black Friday
A$AP Rocky - Lord Pretty Flaco Jodye
Masego & Medasin - Girls That Dance
Drew Howard & Birthday Boy - Benny & Lil' ZeKid Creole & The Coconuts - My Male Curiosity (The Reflex Revision)
Roy Ayers - Don't Stop The Feeling
Tim Maia - Sossego
Aroop Roy - Quem Vai Querer
Enzo Siffredi - Sometimes
Tame Impala - Let It Happen
Vince Staples w/ Kilo Kish - Surf
Freddie Gibbs - Careless
Jarreau Vandal - Be Alright
Skepta - Shutdown
Boogie - Oh My
Willie Hutch - I Choose You
Erykah Badu w/ Andre 3000 - Hello
The Internet w/ Kaytranada - Girl
Thundercat - Them Changes
Kadhja Bonet - Portrait Of Tracy
Eric Lau - Love Call
Tall Black Guy - JB Suite
Mulatu Astatke - Tezeta (Nostalgia)
Father John Misty - The Suburbs (Garage Session)
Kendrick Lamar, "Black Friday"
Skratch Bastid: Being around to witness Kendrick Lamar's release of To Pimp A Butterfly this year was a true privilege. I sincerely think it is one of the greatest rap albums of all time. It's a challenging album, and I think if given the time and attention it deserves (try listening to it like you're watching a movie), you can't deny that it's a masterpiece.
But beyond the album itself, the way Kendrick and his team have executed their vision for the album is unmatched. Like, ever. We've seen many artists use TV appearances to tell career stories or reinforce album themes (Michael Jackson at Motown 25, Death Row at the Source Awards, to name two off the top of the head), but I can't recall a time where an artist used these outlets as integral parts of the concept of an album. Each piece adds a layer to the story or tells a different side of some of the themes on the album, and the album, and Kendrick as an artist, continues to evolve.
Jorge Ben, "Ponta De Lanca Africano (Umbabaraumba)"
Skratch Bastid: 20 years into being fanatically obsessed with music and still discovering cavernous sections of genre I've barely scratched the surface of. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Brazil and the people there. But the music? It just puts it on a whole other level. If you're a Stevie Wonder fan like myself, you've heard Brazilian music influence American R&B and soul, and that is only a sliver of the sounds that you can discover in this gigantic musical country smothered in regional delights.
Jorge Ben Jor, "The King of Swing," is one of the brightest stars and his catalog is impeccable. This is the first track from the fantastic album Africa Brasil, a record I have obsessed over after picking up a copy in Japan this summer. Can't wait to go back and discover more. Obrigado, Brasil!
Kid Creole & The Coconuts, "My Male Curiosity (The Reflex Revision)"
Cosmo Baker: I've always loved August Darnell's music, which could simultaneously be very sugary pop and also have this underlying feel of danger and menace. Or with Dr. Buzzard's [Original Savannah Band], it's like music that was created by futuristic moon people trying to emulate humanity in the early part of the 20th century.
But this song according to my iTunes was my most played song of 2015. Not for nothing, it helps that it's a wonderfully executed re-edit by my homie The Reflex. While a lot of people in the re-edit game really have no soul or swing to their work, Nicholas really adds a breath of life to the way he reworks these tunes.
Willie Hutch, "I Choose You"
Skratch Bastid: I got married this year, and my wife chose this song to walk down the aisle to. I "chose" correctly.
Erykah Badu feat. Andre 3000, "Hello"
Cosmo Baker: Erykah can really do no wrong, but after releasing for music for over 18 years, I think her concise but powerful But You Caint Use My Phone may be her most perfect, complete work of her career. And it's bookended by the beautiful "Hello" duet with her ex Andre 3000, and the two duet over a beautiful Todd Rundgren-inspired piece. Anytime we get a new Andre verse it's like Xmas morning, but the two in tandem here is incredibly sublime. Don't change, squirrel, don't change.
Tall Black Guy, "JB Suite"
Cosmo Baker: I got put on to the Tall Black Guy stuff a little later than a lot of my homeboys, but once I did I realized that he was doing something that was quite a bit different. He's a producer who still has one foot firmly planted in the traditions of the classic "boom bap" yet there's something else that makes him stand out from all the rest, as his music is very forward thinking and the textures that he's able to extract are incredibly advanced and futuristic.
And the fact that he's able to rework the music of James Brown and add these very different, groovy, yet almost alien layers to the foundation of the original composition - making it decidedly new, but still not losing the funk that is the framework.
Max is on Twitter.