In the words of visionary wordsmith and career sadboy Aubrey “Drake” Graham, “But how ’bout now? ‘Cause I’m up right now.”
Here’s a playlist for one of those nights.
“Shameless” — The Weeknd
Amidst gossip surrounding his personal life and superficial appreciation of his catchy, radio-smashing production, folks often forget that The Weeknd — popular music don, starboy and king of explicit language advisories — has an unreal, trained singing voice. In “Shameless,” the acoustic guitar accompaniment draws attention to Tesfaye’s natural singing ability, which is often overlooked in “Can’t Feel My Face,” “The Hills” and other hyper-pitch-corrected Top 40 mainstays.
“Gemini Feed” — Banks
Banks’s seamless coupling of heavy bass lines and bouncy electronic samples in “Gemini Feed” perfectly mirror the protagonist’s tumultuous relationship with a manipulative ex-lover, as well as her thinly-veiled fantasies about dominance and submission. Though Banks’s sophomore album “The Altar” is replete with unambitious themes and unremarkable breakup ballads, “Gemini Feed”‘s thumping, infectious chorus will no doubt get the people going.
“Location” — Khalid
As Genius.com so perfectly put it, “Location” is a song for the soul. Khalid’s groovy, soulful vocals, paired with hollow string-plucking and retro, bassy production, lends a soothing, nighttime vibe. We fully expect to hear more from the 18-year-old El Paso artist.
“Her” — Majid Jordan
It’s not a Gabe and Abdulla’s Playlist without the moody, smooth sound of Toronto duo and OVO linchpin Majid Jordan. Lyrically, “Her” shamelessly taps into trite tropes of unrequited feelings and lost love. Sonically, however, the song is simultaneously heavy and light, complete with characteristically-Majid falsetto and heavy synth sequences.
“Spread Love” — Mick Jenkins
#southside Chicago come-up Mick Jenkins seems to have eluded his fetish for liquid water in his 2014 mixtape “The Water[s]” in favor of a love for “Love.” Released against the backdrop of the continued slayings of black and brown bodies across the United States, “The Healing Component” casts love as humanity’s “healing component.” As always, he wields his unwavering, sonorous voice, urging all to “Spread love … to combat the sadness.” If you’re feeling this, also check out “Fall Through” on the same album.
“Kush High” — Eighty4 Fly
In hazy “Kush High,” Seattle rapper Eighty4 Fly continues to extol the undeniable virtues of the good–good. With its overexposed, distant chiming and deep wubbing, “Kush High” quickly envelops the listener in a glimmering three-minute trance.
“Sleep” — The Roots
“Sleep” is the spacey, downbeat first vocal track on Jimmy Fallon house band The Roots’ concept album “undun,” which chronicles the life and death of a young man growing up on the streets, facing trying circumstances and society’s inequalities. Part of The Roots’ power stems from their unique ability to balance meticulous, polished curation and a live, real-instrument sound, and “Sleep” is no exception.
“Skrt” — Kodak Black
“Something About Us” — Daft Punk
“Something About Us,” the sixth and final single off Daft Punk’s iconic 2001 album “Discovery,” beautifully combines groovy, blipping disco instrumentals with soothing, uniquely-Daft Punk talk-box vocals. Unassuming and mysterious, yet beautifully layered and downright funky, “Something About Us” jives oh-so-well with Daft Punk’s anonymous, sleek, LED-helmet-donning aesthetic.
“With Me” — dvsn
“With Me” is the first single from the most elusive fixture of the Drake-led OVO roster dvsn (pronounced “division,” not “d-v-s-n,” as Abdulla loves to call it). Both sonically and lyrically — with its groovy, lustful R&B instrumentals, gaping pauses and whispering, humming vocals — “With Me” unapologetically alludes to its protagonist’s craving for a sexual relationship.
“Lucky I Got What I Want” — Jungle
In “Lucky I Got What I Want,” London Collective Jungle, not unlike a more uptempo, soulful cousin of fellow Brit James Blake, combines eddying, funky guitar and expansive pipe organ with teasing falsetto vocals to create a rich, open-air sound.
“Time” — Pink Floyd
1973’s “Time” has indeed stood the test of time. This song immortalizes the all-too-real notion that we often do not realize that time is slipping by until it is too late. In many ways, “Time” is as much prophetic as it is timeless; even the song’s backup vocals were some of the first processed through an early pitch-changing device called a frequency translator. Now shut up and enjoy greatness.
The playlist: https://open.spotify.com/user/knightyknight95/playlist/4wDzisRjzj4y7za0zzLdgZ
Contact Gabe Knight at gknight2 ‘at’ stanford.edu and Abdulla Janahi at ajanhi ‘at’ stanford.edu.