Fight SAD with RJD2’s Anti-Winter Mix

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Even during RJD2‘s darker moments, like his 2002 instrumental hip-hop hit “The Horror,” the Philly-based producer brings no shortage of gusto to his oft-cinematic tracks. His sonic magnetism has prompted everyone from PBS to 2K Sports to license RJ’s soulful soundscapes for soundtrack purposes. (You might recognize his track “A Beautiful Mine“; it plays during the opening credits of Mad Men.) Now, RJ is back with his fourth album, The Colossus

(on his own RJ’s Electrical Connections imprint), and it’s a strong showpiece of his ten-year recording evolution. His funky, MPC-based instrumental approach is updated here, while he continues to explore his recent vintage soul/pop sound with his newly developed vocal chops and the help of a few friends (Kenna, Phonte Coleman).

Before his LP warms up speakers this winter, we asked RJ to take a look at his own record collection to help lift spirits as temperatures plunge across the nation. While the producer admits that he doesn’t “listen to music in a very seasonal way,” he kindly put himself in the mindset of July and suggested a gamut of singles that will hopefully help cure any case of the winter blues. As he admits, “Definitely, things can feel right in the summer.”

Return to Forever, “Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy”:

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“This makes me wish A) that I could, and B) that I was ripping super hard synth riffs over badass syncopated drums at highly blistering tempos. [It’s] headbanger music for math nerds.”

Van Halen, “House of Pain 1984”:

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“This song just kicks so much ass — instant smile.”

Tempest, “Acidjazzed Evening”:

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“This song is just bright sounding. It’s got a super dumb title for such an awesome song. Apparently Timbo ripped this off for one of Nelly Furtado’s singles, not that I am trying to call the kettle black or anything.”

Power Bar Ernie, “The Touch (You’re A Winner)”:

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“The best rapper of the ought’s, possibly. If you aren’t laughing by the 5th bar, something’s very wrong.”

Mastodon, “Oblivion”:

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“Awesome harmonies with badass riffs make for summer in your mind.”

Big Daddy Kane, “Wrath of Kane”:

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“Fast rapping will always make you feel better about things, and nobody sounds better over fast beats that Kane.”

Impressions, “I’m So Proud”:

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“Curtis Mayfield’s voice just sounds like warm buttery croissants to me. Takes the edge off.”

Isley Bros: “Summer Breeze”:

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“This song actually feels like a summer breeze, as corny as that sounds. It’s got a lilt to it that works for me when things are a little heavy.”

Rare Bird, “Nature’s Fruit”:

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“[A] Hammond organ, when it’s nice and gritty sounding, soothes me — just a great song for any season, really.”