No matter what your relationship is with music - whether you are a DJBooth reader, a blogger, a struggle rapper or a platinum selling artist - we all started out as fans; everyone has those 15-20 songs that have helped shape who we are and what we listen to. For you and me, it's the topic of endless conversation, but asking your favorite artist about their favorite songs is not always an option....unless of course you work for a hip-hop website.
Honestly, you would be hard-pressed to find a more unique, versatile Booth-approved artist than Anderson .Paak. I mean, within a year the man has made a intoxicant laden, trapish cut (see "DRUGS") and an album that features covers of The Yeah Yeah Yeah's and Toto. It doesn't get any more diverse than that! So, what better way to kick of our Rappers Top 15 feature than getting insight into .Paak's musical DNA?
Below you will find 15 cuts, all of which have had a tremendous impact on the singer-songwriter, rapper and producer. To go along with it, we also made a playlist so you can get down with the likes of Tupac and Radiohead like you were Anderson himself. First, though, be sure to check out just why these songs so much with explanations of each below.
1. 2pac "Keep Your Head Up"
"We (me and my 16-year-old buddy) were obsessed with 2pac and all the drama that was perpetuated by the media, we totally bought into it. At the age of 11, young and impressionable, 2pac was our leader. We knew every word and ad-lib; there was no one better to listen to. He was like your favorite WWF wrestler. There was so much clarity and passion when he spoke and his beat selection was fuckin nuts! Think about how many of his old songs actually still sound good and not super dated with corny sounds that were popular for that time. His music had live instrumentation. When he wanted to be positive and deep, no one was better, when he wanted to be a mindless thug, no one was better."
2. Maze ft. Fanky Beverly "Happy Feelings"
"This is what I think of when I think about my mom. She loved this dude and his music is the soundtrack to my early childhood."
3. Sa-Ra "The Bone Song"
"It was so hard to pick my favorite SA-RA song, but I truly believe this song could cure any sickness. They inspired me in such a way. They made me embrace my soul funk side and push the boundaries with it. Soul with an edge. That's what it's about."
4. Aretha Franklin "I Say A Little Prayer"
"The feeling I get from this song is unreal. I think of riding in a train in the winter time, snow falling and Burt Bacharach pouring me some chilled Grand Marnier in a tin glass. I like that there is a baked version of this song (Deon Warwick) and a deep fried version (Aretha Franklin)."
5. Radiohead "Paranoid Android"
"I remember watching the animated video for this song with my little sis. We would almost be driven to tears on the outro vamp; so haunting and deep. We loved when MTV would play that video, we would stop everything we were doing and watch that long ass video."
6. Stevie Wonder - "Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You)"
"One of the last Stevie joints that hasn't been played to grave. Still sounds great. Both parts of the song."
7. Thundercat "Is It Love"
"Could be one of the best songs of the last decade. I remember hearing it in Omass's studio months before it came out. I think I remembered every word after the first time I heard it...or at least the chorus for sure."
8. Clipse "I'm Not You"
I was gonna put "Grindin" but that's a given. "I'm Not You" is something that could come on now and It would hit me so hard. This collab and beat was out of here! How do you make a sinister beat with steel drums?!?? The fuck is wrong with The Neptunes? Them niggas truly didn't give a fuck.
9. Kanye ft. Nas & Really Doe "We Major"
"What the fuck else you gonna play when you make your first million? Kanye is the king at embodying the true feeling of the song. "We Major" feels like it's name."
10. Jay Z ft. Notorious B.I.G "Brooklyn's Finest"
"My big sister had the tape, Reasonable Doubt. I don't remember anybody else bumpin Jay around our town (Oxnard, an hour north of LA). But Biggie was popular and Jay was not on everyone's radar like that. The energy on this song use to drive me crazy. Listening now you can tell that both of them felt on top of their game and it's awesome they didn't let their egos get in the way of letting them make a classic song."
11. D'Angelo "Africa"
"Play this at my funeral!"
12. J. Dilla "Like This"
"I feel like JD must of been having a creative breakthrough when he made this. It's so far from what he is known for, but so very close. It's rock, it's hip-hop it's soul, it's electronic, trippy, and spiritual. This OK to play at my funeral too...maybe as people are gathering."
13. Bilal "Sometimes"
"'I wish I was drug free sometimes'...creative soul. Pushing the boundaries of R&B; such range and emotion. I remember where I was when I heard this. Everything is crystal clear. There is a reason for that."
14. The Beatles "In My Life"
I love this group. Like I know they doing soul music and and blues and they white boys from the UK and all that, but damn, I fucking love this group. I don't give a fuck man; they was on some other shit. This was the first song I heard of their's. It was during my senior year of high school and this joint hit me like a ton if bricks. This white boy was like, "you never heard this before??" "Hell nah!" My mom didn't listen to the fucking Beattles! She thought that shit was corny.
Too much was going on in my life and a lot of those lyrics spoke to me even at a young age of 17; timeless music no matter what era it's made made in. If it can still hit you like a ton of bricks upside your fucking head then it's special and powerful. Shit hurts in a good way.
15. "Jay Electronica" - Better in Tune With the Infinite
Deeeeeeem! This song is church for the wild!!! There is hope! This song is so simple and honestly nothing crazy lyrically but it's so fuckin' intense. I couldn't listen to anything else for a while when this came out. I use to car pool with a friend and we memorized it this song and recited every fucking morning. It was like meditation.
Thanks to .Paak for letting us inside his headphones. You can listen to a whole bunch more of his music on his DJBooth artist page and follow him @BreezyLovejoy. And for the full listening experience, be sure to hit the playlist below.
[Lucas Garrison is a writer for DJBooth.net. His favorite album is “College Dropout,” but you can also tweet him your favorite Migos songs at @LucasDJBooth.]