Playlist 061: Rock 1974

01. The Rolling Stones – Ain’t Too Proud To Beg
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02. Eric Clapton – Motherless Children
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03. Supertramp – Bloody Well Right
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04. AC/DC – Baby, Please Don’t Go
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05. Steely Dan – Rikki Don’t Lose That Number
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06. Neil Young – See The Sky About To Rain
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07. Albert King – I’m Doing Fine
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08. Seals & Crofts – King Of Nothing
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09. The Grateful Dead – Loose Lucy
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10. ABBA – Waterloo
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11. The Doobie Brothers – Black Water
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Playlist 060: Treadmill Tracks, Vol. 01

01. Big K.R.I.T. – 4EvaNaDay (Theme)
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02. Young Thug – Pacifier
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03. Azealia Banks – 212 (featuring Lazy Jay)
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04. Drake – Nice For What
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05. Cyhi The Prynce – I’m Fine (featuring Travis Scott)
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06. Young Fathers – Get Up
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07. Chance the Rapper – All We Got (featuring Kanye West & The Chicago Children’s Choir)
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08. Just Blaze & Baauer – Higher (Extended)
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09. D.R.A.M. – Cha Cha
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10. Joey Bada$$ – Ready
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11. The Roots – The Seed (2.0) (featuring Cody ChesnuTT)
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12. Ghost Town DJ’s My Boo (Hitman’s Club Mix)
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Playlist 059: Rock 1973

01. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band – The E Street Shuffle
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02. Electric Light Orchestra – Showdown
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03. Todd Rundgren – International Feel
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04. Paul McCartney & Wings – Picasso’s Last Words (Drink To Me)
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05. The Allman Brothers Band – Jessica
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06. The Grateful Dead – Eyes of the World
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07. Elton John – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
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08. Jim Croce – Bad, Bad Leroy Brown
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09. Billy Joel – Captain Jack
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10. The Eagles – Desperado
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11. George Harrison – Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)
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12. Tom Waits – I Hope That I Don’t Fall in Love with You
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13. Pink Floyd – The Great Gig in the Sky
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14. Led Zeppelin – No Quarter
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Playlist 058: Rock 1972

01. Genesis – Watcher of the Skies
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02. The Rolling Stones – Shine A Light
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03. The Grateful Dead – Brown-Eyed Women
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04. Steely Dan – Do It Again
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05. Elton John – Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going To Be A Long, Long Time)
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06. David Bowie – Starman
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07. Roxy Music – Virginia Plain
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08. Jim Croce – Operator (That’s Not the Way It Feels)
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09. The Band – Don’t Do It
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10. The Allman Brothers Band – Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More
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11. The Edgar Winter Group – Free Ride
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12. Black Sabbath – Changes
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13. Mott The Hoople – All The Young Dudes
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14. Jackson Browne – Doctor My Eyes
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15. The Doobie Brothers – Listen To The Music
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16. Gilbert O’Sullivan – Clair
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17. Randy Newman – Sail Away
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Thoughts: August Greene by August Greene

August Greene is a supergroup worth getting excited about. On the marquee is the veteran rapper-songwriter Common, Jazz/Hip-Hop crossover pianist Robert Glasper, and longtime Common and J-Dilla collaborator, drummer Karriem Riggins. There are far too few groups like this in Hip Hop and seeing seasoned artists create something a new one is very encouraging as the genre ages and finds its footing as an established part of American culture.

Although this group is new, the frontmen have worked together in several combinations in the past, most recently on Common’s last album Black America Again, where Riggins took the reins as the primary producer, with some of Glasper’s touches sprinkled throughout. While that project was distinctly Hip-Hop, August Greene situates itself in the ethereal world where Hip-Hop, Jazz and R&B meet. Where the edges are a little softer and the the musicians occupy the spotlight as much as than the emcee, making the production layered, lively and engaging.

Karriem Riggins and Robert Glasper, the architects of the album’s music, do a good job of keeping things from becoming monotonous. There is a flow from “Meditation” to the callback to its lyrics on “Piano Interlude” with the tempo and energy changing from track to track inbetween and throughout. Some songs are driven by the lyrics and performance of Common and the featured singers, while others have extended instrumental sections where the musicians can shine. It is easy for supergroups to try to fit in too much on each track, but this project shows the discipline of Riggings and Glasper to know when to add and when to take away.

Equally important as the musicianship are the messages of empowerment, positivity, and unity that add weight to an album with an already commanding presence. The ideals that the album celebrates are met with a realism, encouraging self reflection when battling personal imperfections and urging the listener to have the faith and optimism that with practice, they can experience growth within themselves and their communities.

That message is most potent on the song “Optimistic”, which is a cover of a song released in 1991 by the gospel group Sounds of Blackness. The original version used a looped breakbeat as the backbone of the track, where this new version features rich keys and fluid drumming and a feature performance from Brandy that blows me away. The sequencing of this song followed by the closing musical odyssey “Swisha Suite” (best song title of 2018) shows that this supergroup really knows how to end an album and leave a lasting impression.

Unfortunately, there is one thing this about this album that keeps most of it out of rotation for me. I cannot stand the contributions made by Samora Pinderhughes, who ends up singing the majority of the hooks with a vocal tone and delivery style that sounds more like a demo take or a half-hearted amateur appearance than the commanding and catchy element that this album needs from him. Surrounded by masters of their craft, Pinderhughes just sounds out of his league. When everything else is done right on this album, I cannot understand why his takes made the final cut when the quality control everywhere else is so consistent. Granted, I do like what he brings to the table on “Fly Away”, where his layered harmonies add an interesting texture to the song, but when his singing is exposed and unaccompanied it just feels thin and underdeveloped.

This album is so close to being an album of the year contender and the changes that could be made seems so obvious. If you watch the groups’ NPR Tiny Desk performance, they enhance their performance by foregrounding women, building each song around a feature performance from female singers and rappers. It’s a shame that they didn’t do the same on the album. I can only imagine how incredible this project could have been with a few more songs at the same caliber as “Optimistic” and fewer lackluster hooks.


Micah Roehlkepartain

Playlist 057: Spring, Vol. 01

01. Frank Sinatra – Spring Is Here
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02. Charlie Parker – April In Paris
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03. Bibio – Lovers’ Carvings
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04. Joni Mitchell – Help Me
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05. Al Green – Sha-La-La (Make Me Happy)
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06. Johnny Cash – When It’s Springtime In Alaska (It’s Forty Below)
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07. The Avalanches – If I Was a Folkstar (featuring Toro y Moi)
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08. Nujabes – Flowers
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09. Amy Winehouse – Help Yourself
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10. Erykah Badu – Certainly
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11. Yo‐Yo Ma, Chris Thile & Edgar Meyer – Trio Sonata No. 6 in G Major, BWV 530: III. Allegro
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Playlist 056: Rock 1971

01. Pink Floyd – A Pillow of Winds
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02. America – A Horse With No Name
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03. The Doors – L.A. Woman
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04. The Rolling Stones – Dead Flowers
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05. Yes – I’ve Seen All Good People: Your Move/All Good People
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06. Bob Dylan – George Jackson (Big Band Version)
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07. Elton John – Indian Sunset
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08. The Allman Brothers Band – Statesboro Blues
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09. The Band – Life Is A Carnival
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10. Neil Young – Harvest
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11. David Bowie – Oh! You Pretty Things
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12. John Lennon – Gimme Some Truth
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13. James Taylor – Love Has Brought Me Around
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14. Cat Stevens – Peace Train
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15. J.J. Cale – Magnolia
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16. The Beach Boys – ‘Til I Die
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17. Janis Joplin – Cry Baby
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18. Paul McCartney – A Love for You
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19. The Who – Behind Blue Eyes
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20. Harry Nilsson – Let The Good Times Roll
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21. Led Zeppelin – Rock and Roll
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Playlist 055: Angst & The New Millennium

01. Sum 41 – In Too Deep
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02. Fountains of Wayne – Stacy’s Mom
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03. Taking Back Sunday – MakeDamnSure
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04. Motion City Soundtrack – The Future Freaks Me Out
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05. Relient K – Pressing On
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06. Blink-182 – Anthem Part Two
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07. Bowling for Soup – 1985
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08. Switchfoot – I Dare You to Move
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09. Fall Out Boy – Chicago Is So Two Years Ago
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10. Hawk Nelson – Letters To The President
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11. My Chemical Romance – I’m Not Okay (I Promise)
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12. Death Cab For Cutie – The Sound of Settling
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13. Bright Eyes – Lua
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14. Brand New – Jesus Christ
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15. Linkin Park – Pushing Me Away
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16. Green Day – Warning
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17. Good Charlotte – Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous
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18. Jimmy Eat World – Sweetness
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19. The All-American Rejects – Swing, Swing
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20. American Hi-Fi – Flavor Of The Weak
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Playlist 054: Rock 1970

01. Van Morrison – Into the Mystic
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02. Paul McCartney – Every Night
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03. Neil Young – Tell Me Why
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04. George Harrison – Awaiting On You All
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05. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Lookin’ Out My Back Door
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06. The Grateful Dead – Uncle John’s Band
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07. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Helpless
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08. The Allman Brothers Band – Midnight Rider
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09. Brewer & Shipley – Tarkio Road
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10. The Band – The Shape I’m In
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11. The Velvet Underground – Rock & Roll
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12. Band of Gypsies – Changes
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13. Led Zeppelin – Since I’ve Been Loving You
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14. David Bowie – The Man Who Sold the World
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15. Black Sabbath – Paranoid
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16. Chicago – 25 Or 6 To 4
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17. Derek & The Dominos – Layla
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Playlist 053: Legendary Beatmakers, Vol. 03: Pharrell Williams

01. Kendrick Lamar – Alright
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02. Clipse – Young Boy
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03. Ol’ Dirty Bastard – Got Your Money (featuring Kelis)
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04. The Neptunes – Frontin’ (featuring Jay-Z)
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05. Frank Ocean – Sweet Life
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06. Nelly – Flap Your Wings
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07. N.E.R.D. – Provider
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08. Usher – U Remind Me
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09. Justin Timberlake – Señorita
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10. Jay-Z – Allure
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11. Earl Sweatshirt – Burgundy (featuring Vince Staples)
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12. Mystikal – Danger (featuring Nivea)
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13. N.O.R.E. – Nothin’ (featuring Pharrell Williams)
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14. Pusha T – Trouble On My Mind (featuring Tyler The Creator)
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15. Clipse – Grindin’
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16. Robin Thicke – Blurred Lines (featuring T.I. & Pharrell)
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17. Snoop Dogg – Signs (featuring Charlie Wilson and Justin Timberlake)
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18. N.E.R.D. – I’ve Seen The Light/Inside Of Clouds (Interlude)
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