At the end of each month Kevin and I release a playlist featuring our favorite releases from the month – The Plug’n Play. The playlist is intended for those that may not check out all the music from the month, people looking for new music, and for sharing some of our favorites that are often overlooked. Beginning in August of 2018, we started releasing a new playlist – The Plug’n Play: B-Sides, curated by Kevin – which is specifically geared toward deep cuts from the month, songs that are great but don’t get much recognition.
Constructing playlists is a very personal experience. There’s an element of keeping in mind what people may like, but ultimately making playlists reflects your personal taste(s). While our musical tastes often converge, they are also unique. For the final The Plug’n Play of 2018, Kevin and I decided to highlight a few of our favorite songs from the year, talking about why we like them, why we placed them where they are in the playlist, and so on. Without further ado, here are some of our favorite songs from 2018!
Kevin: SiR — That’s Alright
SiR’s album came out early this year but I want to make sure we don’t forget about my guy. He dropped a true R&B project without any skips. All this social media talk of king of R&B—SiR’s name deserves to be on that up and coming list. I’ve played this track close to 50 times, it’s so smooth. His voice is distinctive and he now has the TDE machine behind him. I expect big things in his future.
Stanley: The Internet — La Di Da
I love The Internet, man, there’s no other way to put it. This song in particular, La Di Da, is super groovy and just makes you want to move. The opening guitar, with the wah wah, really sets the tone for the song. The bridge is incredible, and the way Syd and Steve Lacey play off of each other is dope. What really makes the song interesting, to me at least, is that the drums and guitar aren’t totally in sync with each other, as the guitar is always a beat ahead of the drums. Not sure if that’s a production wrinkle they added or not, but either way it adds flavor to the song.
Kevin: Jay Rock — ES Tales
“Rock got it, Rock came from rock bottom.” This Jay Rock bar always stuck out to me. As you and I always say Stan, Jay Rock is the rapper that you would create in the lab if you had to develop the quintessential rapper (voice, look, bars, etc.). He has always been the rock and foundation of TDE. On this album he really connected with the public in a way I’m not sure he has in a long time. This song in particular brings you back to the streets. That heavy bass line is haunting and brings that nostalgic feel to the track. In risk of running into more rock puns, I’ll end it here and say I’m happy for Jay Rock.
Stanley: Cory Henry & The Funk Apostles — Love Will Find a Way
Few artists have attempted (and achieved) the Funk elements of Prince’s music. Cory Henry and The Funk Apostles did just that on Love Will Find a Way. The song and groove are infectious. For me, Love Will Find a Way is the perfect mesh of Rock, Funk, and Gospel.
Kevin: Saba — PROM/KING
I love hopping on a bandwagon on the ground level—it’s my thing kinda. I’ve been on the Saba bandwagon for awhile so I feel like a proud father watching their son grow up right before their eyes. Saba delivered Care for Me and Prom/King is probably his greatest song to date. Saba fuses jazz, rap inspired by Bone Thugs and Harmony, and some backpack rap into his songs. Prom/King is an incredible, introspective song and the beat switch in the middle of the song ups the tempo to obscene levels but Saba’s rapping keeps up. Must listen.
Stanley: Noname — Window
Noname’s, Room 25 is one of my favorite albums from the year. Window, in particular, is one of my favorite songs on the album. Noname is accompanied by producer, singer, and multi-instrumentalist, Phoelix whose voice is heard most prominently on the hooks. The baseline, also played by Phoelix, adds a nice feel to the song that allows the voices and composition take center stage. But, the hero for this song is the Matt Jones Orchestra, whose string arrangement feels out and embellishes the song.
Kevin: Phony Ppl — Move Her Mind
Phony Ppl blends funk, soul, R&B and everything else in between. I don’t know exactly how to categorize their music but it’s worth listening to. I talk about getting in on the ground level and I feel that way about this group as well. I’ve been waiting for their next project for three years and they didn’t disappoint. This track has beautiful instrumentation and lyrics that I 100% agree with—So they have a winner here.
Stanley: Tom Misch — Lost in Paris (Featuring Goldlink)
Tom Misch’s Lost in Paris combines elements of Jazz, House, and Hip-Hop. Compositionally, Lost in Paris is interesting because it doesn’t show its hand too early. The song starts with a solo guitar riff, then voice and drums (hi hat and kick), eventually the bass, a break down for Goldlink’s part, then builds back intensity, and ends with a trumpet solo. With each added part, the song introduces a new layer, and it’s refreshing to hear an artist not just go straight for the home run, but meticulously hit singles and doubles.
Kevin: Patrick Paige — The Last Letter
May sound a little wild but Patrick Paige solo project may be my favorite of solo tapes released from The Internet group mates. He doesn’t get the recognition I think he deserves within the group. He continues in the line of bass players who sing/rap and he does it relatively well. The guitar solo at the end of this track is a highlight of the album and is probably the reason it’s on the playlist.
Stanley: Men I Trust — Seven
There’s actually a funny story behind me finding out about this song. I was on the phone with Jode one day while she was in a store, and noticed some music playing in the background. I got really quiet and asked her to stop what she was doing to Shazam the song. Turns out it was Men I Trusts’s, Seven. A moment of gratitude for technology. At any rate, this song is incredibly well composed and messes with some interesting harmonic concepts, as the song bounces around in a couple of key signatures, and never lets you fully settle on a tonal center.