July 2018 ~ Birds

“Luckily, my first exposure to footwork was live, and came accompanied by about 12 dancers. Otherwise, I think it would have been impossible for me to understand this music. At once magnificently cerebral and viscerally physical, it's music that is quite literally designed for dancing.”

Featuring: Makaya McCraven, Onyeka Onwenu, Mala Rodríguez, Tshegue, and more.

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June 2018 ~ Sorrow and Defiance

“There's something strange about being at a live concert that involves a tuba, saxophone, and two drummers and thinking ‘This is the greatest rock band I've seen all year.’"

Featuring: Sons of Kemet, Paul McCartney, Pongo, Jay Rock, and more.

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May 2018 ~ Wonderful Confusion

“This song knocked me out all month. At under two minutes long, it packs an incredible amount of narrative punch, summoning a whole short story's-worth of characters and situations with the barest amount of lyrical information. I imagine using this in a creative writing class as an example of how powerfully a work can be improved by decisive editing, whether it's a song, poem, story, etc.”

Featuring: The Shins, Pongo, Natalie Prass, Ebo Taylor, and more.

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April 2018 ~ Euclid Records, Window on the World

“We took advantage of a work trip to a conference in New Orleans to spend a couple days tooling around that fantastic music city. I made a pilgrimage to Euclid Records, where my fond memories from a visit in 2014 were confirmed. Euclid is just one of the best record stores I've ever been to, both expansive and expertly curated at the same time. Every section is chock full of gems, including the seemingly off-to-the-side world music section, where I stumbled on a record by Mlevhu, whose cover caught my attention.”

Featuring: Jean Grae & Quelle Chris, H. Hawkline, Lord Huron, Bombino, and more.

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March 2018 ~ Born Under Punches

“This song exposes the asymmetry behind male grievance. It's about the way that the practical realities of living in certain bodies decimates the hypothetical framework of false equivalences. In short, there are real differences between negative feelings towards different groups, based on how likely those negative feelings are to contribute to the physical harm, or death, of their targets. And you thought you were listening to a jaunty indie rock song.” 

Featuring: Angélique Kidjo, Wu Man, Clara Rockmore, Pussy Riot, and more.

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February 2018 ~ Black Panther Month

"I thought of this song after watching news reports about people in Philadelphia rioting to celebrate the Eagles winning the Super Bowl. Many, many people pointed to the hypocrisy in the way officials and media treated these riots, as compared to Black Lives Matter and similar demonstrations. It's really kind of crazy how blatant the bias is on this front. Of course, Joe Strummer is talking about white riots in a different way in this song -- almost in reverse."

Featuring: Bilal, Manu Dibango, U.S. Girls, Lee Morgan, and more. 

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Oliver Camacho ~ A Queer Playlist of Song and Opera

"A very intelligent friend of mine proposes that the order in which you prioritize the three basic components of music (melody, harmony, rhythm) can help others understand your preferences. For me, melody reigns. To this confession, I add my need for recognizable form and a preference for expression over beauty."

Featuring: Cristina Deutekom, Cecilia Bartoli, Bruno LaPlante (and more) performing music by Mozart, Schubert, Hahn, and more. 

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January 2018 ~ Tranquility

"New Years is an opportunity to collectively step outside the rush of everyday life for a couple days and recenter. This year, these moments have been an opportunity to inhale deeply and find a measure of tranquility. To recognize tranquility as an important counterbalance to the urgency of our disturbing political and cultural moment. Like twin planets that keep each other in orbit through mutual gravity."

Featuring: Bedouine, Ron Miles, Claude Debussy, Les Filles de Illighadad, and more.

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Devin Mawdsley ~ Enchantment In An Age of Mechanical ReFAUXduction

"The concept of 'enchantment' is something that I think about as a maker. Walter Benjamin makes the case that in 'the age of mechanical reproduction,' (he’s thinking about photography and film, and their relation to the individual and sacred art object - a painting or a sculpture, etc…) the 'aura' of a work of art can no longer remain, and that the value of works of art no longer reside in their uniqueness or specialness."

Featuring: Four Tet, Cola Splash, Arthur Verocai, FaltyDL, and more. 

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December 2017 ~ Navidad Psicodélico

I went to Mexico City in search of this psychedelic sound, manifest in any way possible. The problem with the record shops was that they were full of American imports, things I could easily buy in 10 different record stores in Chicago. Finally, seeing my relative disinterest, the owner asked what I was actually looking for. "Things I can't buy in the States. Especially psychedelic cumbia, stuff like that." He immediately named two shops I needed to check out. I never did get to either of those shops, but looking them up online (especially Dedos Sucios) it was clear that what I was looking for did exist. I'll be back...

Featuring: Sonidos Gallo Negro, Elton John, Irreversible Entanglements, Juan Gabriel, and more. 

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Fred Schmalz ~ The Retreat

"In the last few years, I have found my peace with the holidays. Mostly that has been through appropriating the time into a retreat: for writing and editing, (finally) reading the books that have piled up faster than I can get to them, and immersing myself in the records that followed me home like strays all year. It’s a gloriously indulgent couple of weeks. 'The Retreat' unpacks some of my 2017 favorites, nods to the Pacific, the wildfires, and even the recent Atlanta mayoral election."

Featuring: Juana Molina, Kamasi Washington, Cypress Hill, and more.  

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November 2017 ~ Hitting a Wall

"This month I hit a major wall in my life as a grassroots political organizer. Back when I was leading meetings of our neighborhood Indivisible group, I got in the habit of encouraging everyone to find some time in their week to do something joyful that has nothing to do with politics. I guess that's what I've been trying to do this month. This music has been a major part of that recharging."

Featuring: King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Lonnie Johnson, Sampa the Great, Alessandro Cortini, and more. 

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October 2017 ~ The Problem Here

"Seeing basically every woman I'm friends with on Facebook write "#metoo" (and sometimes much more detail) really breaks my heart. And, even though I feel generally confident that I'm on the positive end of the spectrum of male behavior, hearing so many stories has me revising my take on some things in my past and thinking deeply about the way I move through the world, connecting some dots that needed connecting. My personal take-away: Keep learning, keep listening, keep striving to be better."

Featuring: Tanzania Albinism Collective, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Témé Tan, Snoop Dogg, and more. 

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September 2017 ~ Walls

"Hiss Golden Messenger's M.C. Taylor introduced his song "When the Wall Comes Down" by commenting on how ridiculous the idea of a wall with Mexico is. Although his music is never explicitly political, it's clearly on his mind. His descriptions from the road of seeing Trump signs disappear in towns that were littered with them prior to last year's election has been one small spot of hope for me this year." 

Featuring: Mastodon, Jane Weaver, Youssra El Hawary, Nilüfer Yanya, and more.

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Professor J. Griffith Rollefson ~ Flip The Script: European Hip Hop

The playlist includes a number of tracks featured in my new book Flip the Script: European Hip Hop and the Politics of Postcoloniality (https://europeanhiphop.org/), but the main aim is to give you an intro to the breadth of hip hop “over there” via some bumpin’ beats, ill flows, and otherwise sonically seductive music. That is, I’m not in professor mode here, I’m in hip hop head mode.

Featuring: Roots Manuva, Oxmo Puccino, Lady Leshurr, Amewu, and more. 

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August 2017 ~ African Fake Out

"Working on putting this playlist together, it started to feel like there was a secret theme - music that sounds like it's from Africa, but isn't."

Featuring: Msafiri Zawose, Steve Lacy, Deerhoof, Deradoorian, and more.


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July 2017 ~ There Are Doubts Regarding Your Ability

"Everything Ishmael Butler has a hand in sounds amazing, and the two new albums from Shabazz Palaces are no exception. I've said it before, but this music is leading the vanguard of hip-hop, pushing the outer edges of what it can be. This group has perfected the formula for blending spaced-out experimentalism with street attitude. Yup, this is rap music, but, damn, it's got very little to do with, say, Gucci Mane, or even Kendrick."

Featuring: Dizzee Rascal, fIREHOSE, Colin Stetson, The Damned, and more. 

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June 2017 ~ No Such Thing As Someone Else's War

"My god, this is the kind of music we need right now, especially in the country music world. I know there are so so many people who identify with this sound, who maybe speak with a twang and drive a pick-up truck, but who are compassionate, intelligent, progressive. I'm so grateful to Isbell for giving them a voice." 

Featuring: Jason Isbell, Kevin Abstract, Amara Touré, Sex Bob-Omb, and more. 


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May 2017 ~ Impeach the President

"Between the political echo between Nixon and Trump and the revival of '60's soul sound (courtesy of Daptone Records and similar units), it was actually hard to suss if this song was contemporary or from the '60's. It's about Nixon, but, damn could it just as easily be about the current crook in chief." 

Featuring: Algiers, Yazz Ahmed, Soundgarden, the Honey Drippers, and more.

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