During the winter of my freshman year, Freddie Gibbs and Madlib released Piñata — an album packed with soul samples ranging from Detroit’s Motown scene to an obscure folk group in Hungary. As I dug around on YouTube, unearthing classics from The Manhattans, Smokey Robinson and Teddy Pendergrass, it felt like I was tracing the development of soul-sampling juggernauts like J Dilla, Kanye West and, of course, Madlib.

The album holds a special place in my library for putting me onto an older and more timeless genre of bangers, one without Lex Luger synths and “Metro Boomin want some more n****” tags. Although I still have plenty of love for the “Weird Atlanta” wave, Detroit soul music expresses hardship in a way that just forces your face to scrunch up at the smooth release of strings instead of the thump of an 808. It has the freshness of contemporary rap, but packaged with church choirs and the rugged recordings of the ’70s.

When I was asked to curate a playlist, I wanted to use it as an opportunity to not only showcase my taste, but also to share some criminally slept-on artists and songs. By weaving together soul tracks I found buried in throwaway French Montana mixtapes, with shit you might you hear in an Atlanta strip club, I aim to draw parallels and show developments in soul and rap music. From 1974 Detroit, to early Internet Rap, to the imperialism of “trap music,” it’s all full circle. Point being, it makes perfect sense to listen to The Stylistics ten minutes after Young Thug. 

Damn Son,where’d you find this? can be found here.

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