#ThePlaylistProject: Album Cuts

I’d never heard the term “album cuts” until Charrise suggested that we do a playlist full of them. Naturally, I googled the term, and the top, most relevant result was on Urban Dictionary. Go figure.

A song that is found exclusively on an album and was never released as a single. Sometimes filler, sometimes under-appreciated, sometimes well-known and equally amazing, album cuts are what fill the spaces between the singles you may have initially bought the album for.

Sometimes under-appreciated–totally.

Per usual, Charrise put me on to some songs I’d never heard before. The Emeli Sandé song is fantastic. And the M.I.A. joint at the top of the list is a banger. It could actually fit in well on the workout playlist as well. I was also reminded of the non-stop movement that occurs when I listen to “Millionaire” by Kelis and Andre 3000. Actually took a ten minute dance break while typing this post. It’s that serious.

I’d write some more, but let’s be honest–you came here for the music. Not the 200 words that I write above the  playlist ;)

Enjoy the list. Happy Tuesday <3


#ThePlaylistProject: The Sampler

Nothing is truly original. Keeping that in mind, it should not have been so surprising to me that “Cherchez LaGhost” includes a sample from the 70s hit “Cherchez La Femme.” Yet and still, my 20-year-old mind was blown when I went into the office one day and heard the original song playing. Unfortunately, my only coworkers were two men over the age of 50, neither of whom had ever heard of Ghostface, so they couldn’t appreciate the magnitude of the situation.

Fast forward five years:  recently I was riding around with my 17-year-old sister and “Poetic Justice” came on. Imagine my shock/surprise/horror when I discovered that she had never heard “Anytime, Anyplace.” I quickly filled her in, explaining that Kendrick’s hit song samples a classic Janet Jackson track. I was also floored when my two other youngest sisters told me that they thought Brandy was solely an actress until they heard her sing, but that has nothing to do with this post, so let’s move on, shall we?

It must be mentioned that this playlist–and this project, essentially–is Charrise’s baby. I came up with the idea of hosting #ThePlaylistProject on my blog, but I was inspired by Charrise, whose mental musical catalogue is crazy expansive. She straight up schooled me with this list, and it’s been a joy to come up on some musical knowledge. Did you know that Justin Timberlake sampled Prince? And Destiny’s Child sampled Stevie Nicks. Cam’ron sampled The Commordores, and the list continues.

Literally…the list continues. Down below. Go listen. Then go thank Charrise for putting you on! Happy Tuesday <3

#ThePlaylistProject: Johnny Cash

This week’s edition of #ThePlaylistProject is courtesy of my friend–and Johnny Cash enthusiast–Caro. She took time out from her internet home to diversify our musical tastes a bit and drop some knowledge about a folksy, country, rock & roll legend from Nashville. Enjoy! –lex

As anyone who tried to have a conversation with me last week quickly found out, a new Johnny Cash album was released on Tuesday and I’m having trouble focusing on anything else.

The posthumous release isn’t that out of character, as it’s his third. What sticks out about Out Among the Stars is that unlike the other two, it’s not a continuation of the American Recordings series he worked on in the last decade of his life.

Instead, it’s an album that was originally recorded in 1984 during a period of discontent between Cash and his label. They shelved the record before it was even finished and that’s where it sat for the last three decades. His son John Carter Cash recently dug it out of the archives AND THANK GOD HE DID.

Pre-80s Cash (husky, bluegrass-y) and post-90s Cash (gritty, stripped down) are very different animals and Out Among the Stars is an interesting album because it’s smack dab in the middle both chronologically and musically. It’s not exactly cohesive (which is to be expected) but there are a couple gems that I’m glad we’re not living without. “She Used to Love Me A Lot” has quickly become one of my all-time favorites.

Even if you think Johnny Cash isn’t your thing, I encourage you to give him a try. He’s one of the most prolific artists of all time (96 albums!) and his genre-spanning sound means there’s really something for everyone.
[Hey, it's lex again. So, Johnny Cash isn't "my thing." Charrise's either. But after listening to the music and to Caro gush about Johnny's relationship with his wife June, I found an appreciation for the music and Johnny Cash as an artist. Plus, he performed concerts for prisoners. It's hard to not develop a soft spot for the guy.]

I admit to being partial to his later albums, but I made an effort to include not just my favorite songs, but ones that accurately sample his varied sound. But first, let’s watch a few videos.


“Hurt” is a haunting cover of the popular Nine Inch Nails song. Recorded just a few months before he followed June in death, the video is often referred to as his epitaph and no, I’m not crying. You’re crying! And so is Trent Reznor, who admitted to tearing up when he first watched the video. “I pop the video in, and wow… [I felt like] I just lost my girlfriend, because that song isn’t mine anymore.”

God’s Gonna Cut You Down

If there’s any doubt in your mind that Johnny Cash is an icon, all you have to do is see who turned out for this equally powerful posthumous release.

Out Among The Stars

Continuing the tradition of using other musicians as a mouthpiece for the posthumous releases, this video has Brandon Flowers, Father John Misty, and the Local Natives each picking a song from the new album. The ensuing covers are pretty interesting, but the old pickup makes me particularly nostalgic. My dad had a similar truck growing up and I remember spending many a Sunday peering over the dusty dash, us belting out “Ringo of Fire” on the way to the dump. And now that you’re just as heartbroken as I am (you’re welcome), here’s the playlist!

*If the full 20 track playlist isn’t showing down below, you can listen to the entire thing here.

#ThePlaylistProject: Workout

Supposedly there’s this season called “Spring” that happens.

Legend has it that not only will all of the snow on the ground melt, but no additional snow will fall from sky. Temperatures will be so high that we can actually feel the warmth of the sun versus freezing our asses off while contemplating how it’s possible for the weather to be so cold when there’s so much sun in the sky.

After the most brutal winter of my life, I’m not sure that Spring will ever come, but I’m hopeful. Warmer temperatures call for sun dresses and crop tops–yay! If you’re anything like me, you’ve been (excessively) eating your way through winter and may have picked up some extra pounds that aren’t quite welcome. This week Charrise and I have a playlist that will not only get you through your workout, but it will motivate you to want to workout. At least it worked for us!

Whether your workout includes cardio, dancing, weight lifting, jogging, walking, whatever–we’re positive that this list will get you pumped and in the mood to burn some calories.

Now, go put your gym clothes on and become the envy of all your friends.


#ThePlaylistProject: Before You Were Born

Listen. This playlist? It is full of jams. Full of ‘em!

Officially, this list is titled “Before You Were Born” because all of these tracks were released before Charrise or myself were born. However, here is a list of alternative names I’ve come up with:

  • The Jammin’, Jammiest Old School Jams
  • Best of 70s and 80s Funk and Soul
  • Turn This Shit On At A Barbecue and Let It Ride

My appreciation for older music was already pretty high, but has considerably heightened after really spending time with the music. After a week of blasting this list, I’m still in love! I wish I knew enough about the language of music to tell you exactly what it is that I love about Patrice Rushen’s “Remind Me” or Curtis Mayfield’s “Pusherman.”

This list is groovy–yes, groovy!–and sexy and if I close my eyes long enough I can pretend I’m at a discotheque somewhere in the past, breaking a sweat, dancing until the wee hours of the morning.

Music and imagination are a lovely combination.

#ThePlaylistProject: 90s Feels

What’s your favorite thing from the nineties?

I know, it’s hard to pick just one.

The nineties are responsible for the golden age of television–Boy Meets World, Family Matters, Clarissa Explains It All, Goosebumps, Moesha, Are You Afraid Of The Dark–I could really go on for days. The final decade of the 20th century also gave us iconic movies like Pulp Fiction, Home Alone, Juice, Scream, Menace II Society, and everyone’s favorite: The Lion King. Seriously–who doesn’t love Simba? Everyone loves Simba, okay?

But if I had to choose my absolute favorite part of the nineties, it is without question the music. I spent many a days of my childhood belting out Brandy, Whitney Houston, and SWV songs at the top of my lungs in my grandmother’s basement. Without question, the music is not only a defining piece of nineties culture, but who I am.

And that’s why this week’s playlist features over 70 songs and lots of nostalgia. Charrise and I have spent the last week loving it and now it’s time to share. We hope you enjoy it!

‘Til next week, y’all–be easy <3

#ThePlaylistProject: Timbo The King

On a semi-regular basis I find myself journeying down the nostalgic music rabbit hole, feasting my ears on songs I haven’t thought or heard of in years. So, when Charrise suggested we make a Timbaland playlist, I was quick to name some of his early stuff like “Up Jumps The Boogie” and “Luv 2 Luv Ya.” In addition to his stuff with magoo and the classic songs that Timb has produced for artists like Justin Timberlake, and the incomparable Missy Elliott, there are the slept on gems that people forget about.

When is the last time you listened to “I’ll Be Around” by Cee-Lo? Try to listen to that song and sit still. I bet you can’t. You’ll be too busy bobbing your head, dancing in your seat, and getting your next and past lives. Timothy Zachery Mosely showed out when he made that damn beat and man, am I glad he did.

Unfortunately, all of the songs we wanted to put on this list weren’t available on Spotify, so I put the rest of the songs together in a YouTube playlist. If you don’t have Spotify, download it for free here.

The Playlist Project: Some Favorites

After the Nate Dogg Appreciation post I realized that it’s time to do more music stuff on this here blog. Not only did I enjoy the trip down memory lane while creating the list, I reached out to my friends for song suggestions. I’m known to text my friends out of the blue and poll them on random topics. It always sparks good conversations and has now managed to make blogging feel like more of a community experience, which is delightful I mean…who doesn’t like working with their friends to do what they love?

This is exactly why the ever so lovely @CharriseRenee and I have created #ThePlaylistProject. Can I tell you how excited we are?

v excite

We’re SO excited!

And it’s as simple as it sounds. We’re creating playlists. Good ones. And sharing them with internet users such as yourself who’ve found themselves on my blog because they have wonderful taste in…I don’t know, everything?

Okay, on to the music!

For our first playlist we’ve compiled ten of our favorites. These aren’t necessarily our absolute favorites. They certainly aren’t our only favorites. That list would be crazy long! These are just some of the first songs that came to mind.

After the list was compiled, Charrise pointed out that this is a “GTD/KIM” list and of course I didn’t know what that meant so she broke it down for me: “Get The Draws/Keep It Moist.” I thought that was hilarious. So, folks, my apologies if this music gets you a little hot and bothered in the headphones—that just means the music is doing its job.

Enjoy the playlist & see ya next week <3

Nate Dogg Appreciation

Yesterday while steaming broccoli and attempting to stave off an “I had too much wine last night” migraine, I found myself in the kitchen singing the hook to Ludacris’ “Child of the Night” sung by the one and only Nate Dogg. My train of thought was as follows:

“Why am I randomly singing this song?”
“Damn, Nate Dogg is dead.” *sad face*
“That nigga’s voice was the smoothest.”
“Will we ever get another effortlessly smooth male R&B voice that bodies the hooks on rap songs?”

Sadly, I think the answer to my last question is no.

In March it will have been three years since we lost the coolest dude to never smile in a music video. As my girl @CharriseRenee texted me, “His voice was pure silken gangsta magic.” It is truly a shame that he’s no longer with us, but thankfully his legacy includes plenty of musical gems that we can enjoy forever and ever. Here are some of my favorites.

    • Child of the Night http://youtu.be/CPwQvpV6X40 – This is certainly not my favorite Ludacris song  (I prefer lewd, overtly sexual Luda raps versus uplifting, reflective Luda raps. Sue me.), but Nate Dogg on the hook makes this song more than worth listening to.
    • The Next Episode – Nate Dogg doesn’t even come in on this track til the last 30 seconds but it’s the best 30 seconds of the whole damn song. And he told your bitch ass to take a seat before telling people to have a seat was trendy.

  • All My Life http://youtu.be/q5eitA520Lw– Listen. The whole Philadelphia Freeway album is my shit. Whenever I put iTunes on shuffle and this song comes on, I get every last bit of all my life. (Clap for me and my corny play on words.)
  • I Can’t Deny It  http://youtu.be/O86PEZGVsCQ– Depending on the circumstances, I just might qualify as a “fuckin’ rider,” but there are no firearms in the trunk of my car and I’m not a member of a gang, so I can’t truly identify with the hook of this song. But I’ll be damned if Nate Dogg’s delivery doesn’t awaken the latent G in me.
  • 21 Questions http://youtu.be/cDMhlvbOFaM0– “Would you love me in a Bentley? Would you love me on a bus?” Duh, of course I’ll love you in a Bentley. And if the man was fine with a beautiful voice like Nate Dogg, the answer to the second question is also “yes.” I’d expect him to sing to me while we wait for the bus, though.

More songs featuring Nate Dogg that I enjoy but don’t feel like explaining why, so you should just listen and let the music speak for itself:

RIP to one of the greatest male vocalists hip-hop has ever known <3

let go

Ever had to let go of something or someone before you were ready? Sucks, right?

Be it loving too hard or seeing red, my emotions have gotten me into more messes than I’d like to admit. Painful messes. Dangerous messes. Fortunately, they’ve all been the kind of messes that can be cleaned up, even the gigantic ones that I was afraid would swallow me whole.

The most painful part of manufacturing mess is dealing with the inevitable losses. I’ve lost trust in others and some have lost trust in me. I’ve lost respect for others and I’m sure some folks have lost respect for me. The absolute worst, though, is losing whole relationships. Losing trust or respect is pretty bad, but with time and effort both trust and respect can be regained. But sometimes the damage is too great and a relationship can not or should not be salvaged. This has only happened to me twice that I can recall and both times it hurt like hell.

Then sometimes, for whatever reason, people just fade out of your life and you have to let them go. I hate when I can feel someone drifting away and all I want to do is reach out and pull them closer but I know that it’s not what they want. It also sucks when I have to take a step back from people that I really care about because it’s no longer in my best interest to be close to someone. Just because I love and care about someone doesn’t mean that we should be a part of each other’s lives. That was a really hard lesson to learn. Sometimes we should love and care about folks from a distance so that they can’t hurt us with their bullshit. I’ve had to take a step back from people that mean a lot to me because their unhealthy ways began to take a toll on my well being.

With just 29 days left in 2013, I’ve started to think about what I want to do differently during this next calendar year. I doubt that I’ll make any concrete resolutions—I never do. Instead, I’m going to work on only doing things that are in my best interest. This means letting go of some things (smoking, food that’s delicious but devoid of nutrition) and sadly, some people.

Am I ready? Not really.
Will I get ready? Damn straight.