By: Daniel Hodgman
The Mixes is a Bonus Cut series that focuses on themed mixtapes. The purpose of this series is to share music in hip-hop, but also to share the ability to express feelings through mixtapes. The premise takes after Rob Sheffield’s book Love is a Mix Tape, but unlike his book, these mixes will vary in theme. Although I will have notes explaining why I included each song, the overall interpretation of the songs and the mixtape as a whole is on you. Music is fickle because it triggers different emotions, and one of the greatest feelings is determining your thoughts for specific music on your own. Although Bonus Cut provides The Starting Five, a weekly list of songs the creators are currently digging, The Mixes is an individual entity because of its focus on certain themes.
Past mixtapes: The “Keeping a Current With What’s Current” Mixtape
Past mixtapes: The “Dreamin’ in Color” Mixtape
Past mixtapes: The “Dice Raw” Mixtape
The Valentines Day Mixtape
Look, I get it, you either hate Valentines Day or love it, or at the very least, tolerate it. The truth is, we all know Valentines Day is a materialistic shitstorm, but instead of complaining about it, let’s use it to cherish the ones we love. Sometimes I think of Valentines Day as a strictly relationship/marriage type of deal, but you know, Valentines Day can be used to celebrate the love you have with family, friends and peers. So with that, here are some hip-hop love songs good for any Valentines Day mix!
“Mahogany” by Eric B. & Rakim
A smooth and groovy cut produced by the greats Eric B. and Large Professor set the stage for Rakim talking about that special spark you get when you meet someone worth keeping. “Mahogany” is also hot and heavy. HOT AND HEAVY.
“Cause if you would’ve seen what I was seein’/ Almost looked Korean, but European/ When she spoke, her accent was self-explanatory/ Even her body language told the story”
“Heart & Soul” by Ugly Heroes
In-between the hard-hitting blue collar songs about struggle, class differences, living paycheck to paycheck and true America, Ugly Heroes manage to throw in a love song that is just as true as the tracks surrounding it on their debut. “Heart & Soul” directs us fittingly from the beginning, with a deep-ripping Apollo Brown soul sample and blaring strings. Verbal Kent throws a vicious hook that rounds the song off:
“Yeah, well if you don’t believe in faith then what’s this?/ World full of lies, let’s trust this/ Uh, when the sky falls we’ll hold hands and watch/ There’s no skyscraper could crush this”
The grappling reality hits hard here, because “Heart & Soul” isn’t some cheesy pumped-up love song out of a movie or show. It’s a faithful account to love among the common folk, and damn does it hit hard. The latter half of Red Pill’s verse is both personal and relate-able.
“Cause I could do the usual, tell you that you’re beautiful/ Tell you when I get some money, everything I do for you/ But I don’t think you really want to hear it/ I think about our friendship and I think it’s more endearing/ When I’m getting out of work and I need some mental clearance/ Then we sit around complaining while we share a couple spirits”
“Hey Mama” by Kanye West
Like I said before, Valentines Day DOESN’T have to be limited to that special someone. If anything, use Valentines Day as a day to further appreciate your parents, your family, and here more specifically, your mother. The most important thing to remember though is that Valentines Day isn’t limited to anything. Love isn’t limited, so why should Valentines be?
“I Used to Love H.E.R.” by Common
One of Common’s most critically acclaimed and well-known cuts is Resurrection‘s “I Used to Love H.E.R.” Here Common talks about a girl he meets and soon falls in love with. As the verses flow, the girl’s persona and mindset start to change, and Common begins to distance himself from H.E.R. It isn’t until the third verse where we the listener find out that Common isn’t singing about a girl at all; he’s singing about hip-hop. It’s a fine O Henry like twist, and what’s incredibly interesting is how deeply it’s rooted, as Common raps about Afrocentrism and hip-hop’s slow and changing ordeals as it grows: “Now I see her in commercials, she’s universal/ She used to only swing it with the inner-city circle.”
“Love” is the strong word here, for obvious reasons, but it’s such a specific type of love that I had to include it on this mix. “But I’mma take her back hoping that the shit stop, cause who I’m talking bout y’all is hip-hop.”
“Evolution of Man” by Binary Star
It’s only fitting that “Evolution of Man” samples “I Used to Love H.E.R.,” but this song is way more than just a sample. Combining spoken word and rapping, “Evolution of Man” talks about the attraction beyond the “physical” realm. Wouldn’t you love to find that special someone who is capable of having effortless spiritual conversations with you? Maybe you already have.
“I feed you the knowledge your system digests/ You feed me the knowledge my system digests/ We make love in excess/ We progress through thick and thin X-ray vision like superman/ I see through the bullshit/ That’s why I like your style/ Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound”
“The Goings On” by Oddisee
Written in the form of a letter, “The Goings On” sees Oddisee writing to an old flame. It’s a visual story, as Oddisee plants subway scenes and resurfacing feelings of unrequited love, but the real catch is the song’s motive. Have you ever wanted to write or call someone just to see how they’re doing? Maybe they’re an ex, or maybe they’re just an old friend. Either way, I think it’s important that we try to reach out to those who were close to us in the past every once-in-a-while. There’s nothing like hearing from an old friend, and I think life’s too short to let minor details get in the way. So I ask you: what’s going on?
“You Got Me” by The Roots
The Roots, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu and Eve all deserve equal credit on this Things Fall Apart Roots cut. In essence, “You Got Me” is the best assurance you can get, because you know your significant other is yours and all yours. There is no doubt or worrying, because the connection you have is so strong, nothing can break it. Reinforcing it just to make sure it’s there, Erykah Badu sings a soothing Jill Scott written hook: “If you were worried bout where/ I been or who I saw or/ What club I went to with my homies/ Baby don’t worry you know that you got me.”
“Passin’ Me By” by The Pharcyde
A song about lost love. It’s depressing to think about lost love during Valentines Day, but hey, maybe one of these years that someone will finally see the love full circle. The rhymes spit here are prime as well, which is important, because a hip-hop mixtape isn’t going to be a good mixtape unless the rhymes hold their own.
That’s a small mixtape of my song choices. What are some of yours?