“Listen In” is a weekly feature in which we ask musicians to curate a mixtape-length YouTube playlist of songs they’re currently digging. Click the big play button above to hear the whole playlist or scroll down to see and hear individual tracks.
Atlanta’s Awful Records crew has been compared to Odd Future circa 2010, with founder Father as the Tyler, the Creator, a charismatic, provocative weirdo, and Archibald Slim as the Earl Sweatshirt, with a lower-key personality and an almost old-school emphasis on straightforward rapping. But Slim’s more like 2015 Earl, introverted and paranoid and fond of rapping over smudgy, downcast instrumentals. And unlike Earl, he’s super prolific: his last EP, The Other Special Guest, came out in March, and the next, Don’t Call the Cops, a collaboration with producer Dexter Dukarus, is out this week. He made an annotated playlist for ANIMAL of deep cuts from some of the greats.
Clipse – “Ultimate Flow”
I was always a Clipse fan, but I was late on all the re-up gang mixtapes. My third year of college when I was realizing I didn’t really know what I was going to do with a degree is the year I decided to start taking music more seriously. This had a pretty heavy influence on the darkness in my raps because my grandma had just died and that was a pretty fucked up part of my life.
Freddie Gibbs – “Iodine Poison”
Everybody loves Pimp C, so the quote he used to start the song made me fuck with it more. I was never they type to listen to the radio or pretend to like songs just because everybody else did. Freddie Gibbs made you focus on his technicality because the beat was so simple. But he started one verse off where the first couple bars were tying all of the UGK album titles together and I thought that shit was the best shit I had heard at the time.
PSK-13 ft. UGK – “Like Yesterday”
When I first started living in Atlanta, I didn’t have any other family out here and there was a lot of shit I did that I shouldn’t have been doing. As a result, I sort of alienated myself from the rest of my family and there was a time that we really didn’t talk that much. In Bun B’s verse, he says paints a picture of all the mistakes he made and how he was at odds with his family. I felt I could really relate.
MGMT – “The Handshake”
From the first time I heard “Time to Pretend,” I was waiting on this album to drop. I like this song specificially because it talks about how life changes when/if you sign a record deal. I have always been about artists keeping their integrity so the fact that they made this song about how superficial can become made this my favorite from the album.
Elzhi – “What I Write”
When I was getting deeper into trying to find music nobody else was listening to, I used to go to this store in Little 5 points called Moods’ Music. It’s like the only store in Atlanta where you’ll find all the old ’90s and underground shit on CD. So I used to just go like every other week and buy like 4 or 5 CDs I knew I hadn’t heard. I wasn’t a big Slum Village fan growing up, but I stumbled upon this not even knowing he had been a member of Slum Village. Just the way he puts verses together kind of blew my mind. And the hardest part of writing a song to me is starting it, so it was interesting to hear someone rap about the thoughts that go through their head as they sit down to write.
OutKast – “Spaghetti Junction”
I was in 6th grade when I first heard Stankonia. It was one of the albums that really caught my attention when I was younger. Since I was so young my parents wouldn’t buy it so I had to take it from my dad. Hearing this song as an 11-year-old, you get pulled into it just because of the way they come on the song. That was still in the days of albums coming with the lyrics in the CD case and I was too into it to not know every word of what they were saying. The last verse Andre rapped on the song kinda creeped me out as a kid but also made this one of my favorite songs. Being older even the opening line, “Niggas elope wit ski slopes and fall like avalanches” is hard as fuck.
Mobb Deep ft. Kool G Rap – “The Realest”
Prodigy had the realest verse on the song but way Kool G Rap came on made it more memorable. There was a point in time where I was just going from producer to producer listening to everything I could find and this is when I was in my phase for the alchemist. Me and stalin (Stalin Majesty) used to be on a lot of the same shit and he actually showed me this song. I went back and listened to the whole album and Murda Muzik is right up under the Infamous for me for Mobb Deep.
Gucci Mane – “Bob Marley”
EVERYBODY KNOWS Gucci plays a big part in Atlanta rap. Trap God 2 dropped and for the whole time I had my black maxima (about 9 months) This was one of the 2 albums I rode around to all the time. This was just one of my favorite songs on that tape.
Rakim – “The Saga Begins”
As I said, I was going through phases listening to everything I could find from producers. This was during my Pete Rock phase. I was never a big Rakim fan, but this song is undeniable. This man rhyming ability is at too high of a level. His technicality and broad vocabulary make this shit something you have to put on repeat because you can’t catch everything the 1st time. The way he rhymes in circles made me make it a point to figure out what he was talking about. Its also a different kind of song structure. Since Pete Rock just scratched on the hook,he ends every verse with “all hail the honorable, microphone phenomenal,” and even though he repeats those bars at the end of every verse they are probably the hardest ones on the song.
Jay-Z – “Imaginary Player”
EVERYBODY HATES A PRETENDER! Everybody knows at least one person that feels like they have to prove that they’re outdoing everyone when in reality they’re not really doing anything. This is the the theme song for people who hate pretenders. Just like if somebody sees you doing something and they think they’re on the same level and come tryin to start a conversation with you… “Im uncomfortable dawg, I DONT KNOW YOU.”