With my mixes I like to tell a story or at least make a point. I also don't see the point of making a mix if it's not going to have a diverse mix of music on it. Here's a mix I never actually made, it's kind of a mix of my favorite mixes.
1 - Johnny Cash - "Don't Bring Your Guns to Town" This is a story song about a cocky kid who rides into town strapped and ends up getting shot in a bar after he pulls his gun when some "dusty cowpoke" laughs at him. It was recorded in the 70s but it has the same bareknuckled production values that made Johnny Cash's albums that he recorded with Rick Rubin towards the end of his life so popular, even for people who don't like country.
2 - The Game feat. 50 Cent - "How We Do" It might not seem like it, but going from the Johnny Cash song to this is a totally great, natural transition. The simple guitar rhythm feeds right into this precise series of ticks and booms laid down by Dr. Dre, and the songs are basically about the same thing. 50 and the Game rapping about fronting on people "We make a move and act a fool while we up in the club," Game saying he'd shoot someone for stepping on his shoes. It might seem just silly except the shit actually happens, someone did get killed for stepping on somebody else's shoes in a club not too ago down here in Baltimore.
3 - Young Buck - "Bang Bang" The only dude still in G-Unit who I still actually like, here he is praying "Lord forgive me but he tried to kill me" and rapping about guilt. The beat is the Nancy Sinatra song of the same name. These first three songs are like a trilogy. A lot of people make the point that Johnny Cash probably made more songs about killing people than any rapper, but he always sings from the perspective of guilt and/or regret, which rappers apparently don't do. But here you go. Now you got this Johnny Cash song plus two rap songs all looking at what could be the same scenario from 3 totally different points of view. And they all sound real good together too.
4 - Nelly feat. Tim McGraw - "Over and Over Again" I saw part of some VH1 special on the 500 worst moments in Hip Hop, or something like that, and this song was on there. Whatever, VH1 doesn't know shit about shit. Beyond being a solid breakup song, here you've got a country dude and a rapper from East St. Louis singing, asking why do we have to keep fighting about the same things over and over again? It's some Barak Obama shit. This song, even if you don't care about bridging the gap from rap to country, it still sounds good. A lot warmer than the Young Buck song, but there's a flow between these two songs about regret, one about crime and one about love.
5 - Rolling Stones - "You Got the Silver" Keith Richards sings on this instead of Mick Jagger, sounds totally perfect alongside the slide guitar. "Baby, what's in your eyes?" This song sounds like kissing in the snow, but ends up on the note that Keith Richards doesn't care.
6 - Otis Redding "The Glory of Love" This song is awesome. Otis has a lot of strength in his voice that the song builds up to, but it starts on a whisper. The horns, the drums, the piano, everything on this song comes together perfectly when the song switches up the tempo and keeps building. The song is about love making you cry, move over and give up, but still being something amazing. This song turns a corner, in the way it sounds and it's message. Up to this point this mix has been on some dark and depressing shit, but now it starts looking at some of the same issues from a more positive or at least upbeat feel.
7 - Nas - "Halftime" Illmatic was recorded when Nas was real young, something like 18, before he was even signed I think. No fancy production, just this one young kid with crazy flow rapping about real dark shit on all these four and a half minute long songs. Like my brother
once said, it's got no fat on it. Halftime is easily the most upbeat song on there, with a fat baseline and Nas rapping about loving rapping. "Back in '83 I was an MC sparking/ but I was too scared to grab mikes in the park and/ kick my little raps cause I thought niggas wouldn't understand/ and now at every jam I'm the fucking man." Closes it out with a dedication to all 5 boroughs.
8 - Young Jeezy - "My Hood" We keep the gravy train running with this song about how much Jeezy loves his hood, my hood, and your hood. He paints a fun picture of a scene that sounds like something straight out of The Wire: "Ford Taurus pull up, everybody run/ White boys jump out, pointing with they guns!/ Ford Taurus leave, everybody came back/ Hey! Hope them boys didn't find my sack." Just like Nas he compares the rap game to the crack game.
9 - Aretha Franklin - "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)" As the story goes, this song was recorded with Aretha singing and a bunch of white dudes playing instruments, in Alabama, in the 60s. Jerry Wexler or somebody under him fucked up. After they recorded this song and knew it was the shit, like, the fucking bomb, they all had some drinks. Someone pinched Aretha's ass, with her boyfriend standing right there. They got through maybe one take of another song and the whole situation got so bad and close to violence that the rest of the CD ended up being recorded up in New York. Which was a shame, cause this song definately lets you appreciate that laid back southern vibe that allows Aretha to scream, shout and moan and sound totally beautiful, not overpowering or being overpowered by the instruments. "My friends keep telling me that you ain't no good/ but they don't know that I'd leave you if I could." She loves this dude the way America loves violence, gangsters, and drugs. Different picture of love than the Otis Redding song.
10 - Jay-Z feat. Eminem - "Renegade" The first time I heard this song it was in a class at my college, where my professor played this song and told us to write an essay about it. I think I wrote something about Jay-Z and Eminem pointing the finger back at all the people who attack their music, at the society who condemned them to poverty then turned around and condemning them for what they did to get paid. Anyway, Nas was right when he said Em murdered Jay on his own shit here - Eminem's beat on this song and his verses speak for themselves. But Jay's are great too nonetheless, he's painting pictures with his verses just like story singing country singer. "I penetrate pop culture, bring 'em a lot closer to the block/ where they pop toasters and they live with they moms" and later "by the bodega, eyein' under my coat feelin' braver/ doo-rag wrappin my waves up, pockets full of hope."
11 - Biggie - "Things Done Changed" It's funny to think about, but when my parents grew up there wasn't any such thing as crack, there hadn't been a real heroine epidemic and the white flight had only just begun. No matter where you live, that shit affects your life and how you see the world. As we can all see from the hurricaine, our cities really are on the verge of anarchy but a lot of the people who want to put stickers on CDs or bleep cusses don't want to think about that shit, they want to blame the downfall of society the people who "fell through the cracks." Biggie here isn't blaming anyone but he's kind of asking what happened. "What happened to the summertime cookouts/ seems like every time I turn around somebody got took out/ and my mother got cancer in the breast/ don't ask me why I'm motherfucking stressed/ things done changed."
12 - Kanye West feat. the Game - "Crack Music" "How we stop the black panthers?/ Ronald Regan cooked up an answer." Totally clunky beat on this song, almost demanding that you listen to what Kanye's saying. Not just being pissed off at republicans either, there's also more rapping comparing crack to music . Someone doing a spoken word thing at the end says "What we gave back was crack music and now we ooze it through they nooks and crannies. ... Now the former slaves trade hooks for grammys. This dark diction has become America's addiction."
13 - Mike Jones feat. Paul Wall - "Whatch'a know about (Screwed and Chopped Remix)" This song actually does seem to be oozing, with impossibly deep voices rapping a phone number you can call to get ringtones. Seems to epitomize the idea of crack music, even though it isn't about drug dealing. The totally slick screwed up beat sounds amazing after Crack Music, kind of like how "Drive Slow" sounds like it fits on Paul Wall's album.
On my own mix, I stuck on a Rod Lee song at the end, but Baltimore club tracks are hard to come by sometimes, and they don't sound good on mixtapes or burned CDs anyway because they're all on DJ mixes anyway, and you hear the end and beginnings of the surrounding tracks. The song I used is the Horn Theme, this totally fucking epic pounding horn beat with orchestral singing or something in the background. This music seems like the type of shit that should be being played in clubs you'd be afraid to go to. Like the screwed and chopped Houston shit, this song represents an indiginous musical form that could fit loosely under the umbrella of hip hop, but unlike Mike Jones and Slim Thug, this shit hasn't broken into the mainstream at all yet.
I guess the story of this CD is kind of, what it's like to love something or someone that isn't always good for you.