Bridging the Gap – Nas featuring Olu Dara

I’VE BEEN LOOKING FOR THIS SONG SINCE 2004. AND I JUST FOUND IT.

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No joke.

When it came out, I was about 14, and I thought it was fucking genius.

I loved the fact that Nas was directly referencing the Blues, the roots that influenced Rap and Hip Hop.

But when you search the internets for this song, it’s virtually impossible to find. It’s not even on Nas’ YouTube channel!

Well, I dug it up anyway.

While the video had a high rotation on MTV and BET after its release, it’s just not a song that a lot of people remember. I LOVED the way it melded together Rap and Blues.

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In it, Nas samples Muddy Waters song, “Mannish Boy,” which is not only a fitting sound, but the title speaks to the message of Nas’ song as well. His father, Olu Dara sings a blues riff as the chorus.

How many musicians put their parents on their songs?! Not many. How many TRULY dig deep down into their history and feature it proudly on a track? Again, not many. These are just a few of the reasons Nas is a genius, and this track is evidence of that.

Blowin’ Smoke – Kacey Musgraves

ACKKKKKK!!! I’M WRITING ABOUT COUNTRY. HELL FROZE OVER!!

Okay, now that that’s out of my system, let’s break it down.

I really hate most modern Country. Like most other genres, a lot of it is watered down and standard. But also like other genres, there’s standouts. And I truly believe that Kacey Musgraves is one of them.

My mom’s been a lifelong waitress and when I heard this song, it spoke to both her life and the lives of all of the people I grew up with in Indiana.

To me, that’s the true mark of any good music: it speaks to something that’s so undeniably relatable and/or truthful that you feel like you’ve been the inspiration for the song.

Especially genres like Country and Rap, which you wouldn’t think would go together. They both speak to shared experiences and the desire to “clue in” outsiders on a culture and way of living. Current Country and Rap are often watered down. Rap centers on “bitches and money,” and Country focuses on “dirt roads and pickup trucks.” Fuck that. There’s so much truth still to be told if artists would just zoom in their lens a little closer. And in this case, Musgraves does that a lot.

Musgraves is best-known for her song “Follow Your Arrow,” and won 2 Grammy’s in 2014, one for her album Same Trailer Different Park, and one for her song “Merry Go ‘Round.”

Critics are touting her as someone that’s subversive and controversial, but Musgraves has been quoted as saying that she doesn’t think she’s controversial – she just speaks to reality and the issues that modern people face. Musgraves comes from a musical background and knows just how to craft a perfectly catchy and impactful song. She been on the stage since about 12, and wrote her first song at the age of 8. She might offend some with her short skirts, tall hair and tongue-in-cheek lyrics, but for many, her fearlessness is appreciated.

While she’s not alone on her bawdiness, it’s still refreshing. Sure, there’s been the Dixie Chicks, Miranda Lambert and Gretchen Wilson, but Musgraves still has her own brand. It’s less “fuck you,” and more, “get over it.” She doesn’t address the haters or brag about the “Country” lifestyle. She just lives it, and sings it. And you’re welcome to join her. Or not.

Musgraves takes the stage with Loretta Lynn at the 2014 CMA's.

Musgraves takes the stage with Loretta Lynn at the 2014 CMA’s.

Musgraves arrives at the CMA's with a closer-to-God hairdo.

Musgraves arrives at the CMA’s with a closer-to-God hairdo.

She has an air of Willie Nelson and Hank Williams in her, and I can’t help but get excited. She reminds me of older Country acts that had so much more depth to them than current ones. She makes Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift look generic. She pisses off radio stations and upends the expectations of a Country artist by directly addressing an LGBTQ audience, weed, infidelity and nosey neighbors. Her character shows through every song on her album. And I sincerely forgot that I was listening to a Country artist by the end. That’s a helluva feat.

The central theme to this post isn’t difficult: listen to everything and keep an open mind, because sometimes an artist can jump out from a genre and really surprise you. As Musgraves says, Mend your own fences and own your own crazy. Mind your own biscuits and life will be gravy.

The Wedding War

Brandon and I agonized over the music selections for our wedding for MONTHS. We got married in October, so we knew that would have some effect on the music, as it was a large influence on the decorations. But the playlist was seriously the hardest part of the entire planning process. We have very different musical tastes, and the things he found exciting and humorous, I found tacky. The things I found kitschy and fun, he found annoying. A war was waged.

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FINALLY – we sucked it up and made a pretty interesting playlist. For which the DJ promptly ignored in lieu of playing SHITTY country music. We’ve since decided that if that’s the worst thing that happened on our wedding day, we’re pretty damned lucky. But you can’t blame a couple for trying. So, here, in all of it’s glory, is our INTENDED wedding playlist. (Grenades and gatling guns aside.)

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1. Left Hand Free – Alt J
2. XO – Beyonce
3. Around My Head – Cage the Elephant (The part where lead singer Matt says, “Can ya dig it” is my friend Jesse’s favorite lyric to emphasize when scream-singing along.)
4. Stay Alive – Jose Gonzalez (This was our¬†reception entrance song.) This song was also featured in the movie, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” which Brandon and I found enchanting. We always think of Ben Stiller longboarding through Iceland when we hear this.
5. Black or White – Michael Jackson
6. Santa Monica  РEverclear
7. Stand By Me – Ben E. King (Mother/groom dance.)
8. Fell In Love With A Girl – The White Stripes (We liken aspects of our relationship to the one in Silver Linings Playbook. We already loved The White Stripes, but now this song took on a different meaning.)
9. Midnight Rider – The Allman Brothers Band (I do my best to not think of the time this song was featured in The Devils Rejects. *shudder)
10. Love Potion No. 9 – The Clovers
11. Cupid – Sam Cooke
12. Crossroads – Cream (My dad was obsessed with this song when I was growing up. It played on the stereo quite a bit.)
13. Blueberry Hill – Fats Domino
14. L.A. Woman – The Doors (Mr. Mojo Risin’ is my favorite part to chant over and over. My dad used to chant it as he worked in his garage.)
15. Cool Kids – Echosmith (I heard this song for the first time while I was in Drifters in Nashville visiting Jesse a few years ago. I brought it back home with me.)
16. Danger! High Voltage – Electric Six
17. Don’t Stop – Fleetwood Mac
18. All These Things That I’ve Done – The Killers (Cassie and I belt this song together. She was my Maid of Honor, so this was dedicated to her.)
19. Anna Sun – Walk The Moon (Brandon and I have fantasies of being able to do the dance in this video. It still hasn’t happened.)
20. Heavy Bells – J Roddy Walston And The Business
21. The Passenger – Iggy Pop
22. Dancing On My Own – Robyn (I used to work at Torrid, and this song played all the time. I learned to love it through osmosis.)
23. Jumpin’ Jack Flash – The Rolling Stones (The phrase, “I was born in a crossfire hurricane,” was sang a lot as I was a kid.)
24. Sloppy Seconds – Watsky (The opening line made me leery, but Watsky is such a talent that we couldn’t skip him.)
25. Wagon Wheel – Old Crow Medicine Show
26. My Generation – The Who
27. Werewolves of London – Warren Zevon
28. Always Alright – Alabama Shakes (Recessional song.)
29. The Man In Me – Bob Dylan (The Big Lebowski, anyone?)
30. Runaway Baby – Bruno Mars
31. Where the Wind Blows – Coco O.
32. A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got) – Fergie, Q-Tip, GoonRock
33. Mae – The Gaslight Anthem (Processional song.)
34. You Are My Sunshine – Johnny Cash (Father/bride dance.) (I bawled like a baby when I listened to this, and I knew my dad and I had to dance to it.)
35. The Ghost Who Walks – Karen Elson (Jack White’s ex-wife is quite the talent. Another Third Man Records find.)
36. West Coast – Lana Del Rey
37. Call It What You Will – Larry and His Flask
38. I Am Not Willing – Moby Grape
39. I Love You More Than Words Can Say – Otis Redding (First dance song.)
40. Booty Swing – Parov Stelar
41. Rye Whiskey – Punch Brothers
42. Let Go – RAC, Kele, MNDR (Jarrett, who was my Man of Honor, introduced us to this song, and we couldn’t forget it.)
43. In the Jailhouse Now – The Soggy Bottom Boys (When we’re alone, Brandon sings this song. He does quite a good job.)
44. Atlantic City – The Band
45. Down in Mexico – The Coasters (Death Proof solidified this song for us.)
46. Nothing But a Heartache – The Flirtations
47. Bang Bang – will.i.am
48. Hello Operator – The White Stripes
49. When She Begins – Social Distortion
50. Ohio – The Black Keys
51. Just Got Paid – ZZ Top
52. All About That Bass – Meghan Trainor
53. Would You Fight For My Love? – Jack White
54. Fire – Jimi Hendrix
55. Gold and Warm – Bad Veins
56. On My Mind – New Found Glory
57. Harry Potter Soundtrack (Seating music before ceremony.) (We got more compliments on this choice than anything else on this playlist.Everyone LOVED hearing this when they entered the venue.)