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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Hip-Hop's Best Summer Songs
Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Summer is officially here and that means grills are being lit and barbecues are happening on a near weekly basis. Heck, I was at my first barbecue of the year two weeks ago.

Aside from good food and good friends, the third requirement for every barbecue is good music. The DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince classic “Summertime” has been part of everyone’s summer soundtrack since it was released in 1991. The song encapsulates, both lyrically and musically, everything that we love about summer.

DJ Halo explains the importance of a summer song’s vibe saying “you need to have something that makes you think of outdoors, and summer songs have a light and sunny feel to them. You can, just by hearing one, imagine a sunny day, green grass, maybe even a grill.” Halo’s feelings are seconded by emcee godAWFUL, who says summer songs have “a refreshing, laid back sound,” jokingly adding that they “not only accompany gorgeous cleavage and a delicious buzz, but intensify the joy they bring.”

According to Workforce producer Dirt E. Dutch a good summer song “has to make you feel like a kid again, every time you hear it,” and emcee Chase Davis adds that another important aspect is that “it has to be played everywhere and most everyone has to like it. The energy has to be undeniable.” Soul singer Omar Wilson seconds this, saying summer songs need to be “uptempo music” with “an infectious melody” and “a contagious hook.”

“Summertime” has all of these qualities, which why it’s been a staple of summer playlists for nearly twenty years. “Summertime,” however, isn’t the only great hip-hop song for the season. Some of Connecticut’s most prominent hip-hop and R&B artists have plenty of favorites they feel deserve to be in rotation with it.

Both Dirt E. Dutch and godAWFUL suggest A Tribe Called Quest songs for creating a great atmosphere. Dirt E. Dutch feels “Check The Rhyme” should be in everyone’s playlist. Although he notes that one of the reasons he loves the song so much is because of the activities it was part of the soundtrack to one summer, he adds that it has “the perfect balance of bass and crispy hi-end,” and that “it makes you actually think of the summertime, even in the dead of winter.” godAWFUL nominates Tribe’s “Electric Relaxation” as another great summer song, saying “it's just got that perfect amount of energy. Not too much, but enough to put a grin on everyone's face,” adding “it also goes great with a Corona and a lime.”

Emcee Plus says the Notorious B.I.G.’s “Juicy” is a song his summer can’t do without, as he explains “everything about ‘Juicy’ just feels good. The beat, the hook, and of course Biggie.” Since Biggie will forever be linked with a certain West Coast emcee it only makes sense that Wilson pulls out 2Pac’s “Picture Me Rollin’” for his summer listening.

Chase Davis stays in that era of artists, choosing the Method Man and Redman classic “How High” for his summer gatherings. “Everybody was pumping ‘How High,’” he remembers, “you had two of the biggest rappers of that era going in. These dudes had kids from the pjs rocking sun visors. And let’s not forget the video, it epitomized summer.”

DJ Halo has a variety of songs to add to people’s summer playlist, with many of his favorites being of the old school variety. “Most breakdance type tunes are good summer tunes,” he explains, “because you can visualize the breakers dancing, and the outdoors, if it’s done properly.” Halo also likes to throw a little funk into things, which is why he always keeps The Blackbyrds’ classic “Rock Creek Park” handy when spinning at outdoor summertime hip-hop events. Classic hip-hop is also in Halo’s summer crate, as Smif-N-Wessun’s “Bucktown” and The Geto Boys’ “Bring It On” are two songs that always give him a good summertime vibe (although you might want to wait until the kids aren’t around before breaking those out).

Not all great summer music comes from the past, however. There are still groups looking to capture that vibe today and according to Dirt E. Dutch one of those groups is Super Chron Flight Brothers. He says their song “Reggie Miller” makes him “want to fill up the cooler with ice, fire up the grill, and stick my feet in a kiddie pool.”

So just because we have summertime staples like “Summertime” doesn’t mean that people should stop digging through their collections. There are a multitude of classics that are worth remembering and putting on. These have just been a few examples, brought to you by some of the state’s best artists, of what can get your party jumped off correctly and have everybody feeling alright.

Story originally ran in the FairfieldWeekly.

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