It’s Memorial Day. You’ve got the burgers made and the whiskey-lemonades mixed. You’ve got the biodegradable paper plates and the charcoal. But what about the music? People, forgo the chillwave mixtape this year and let the incomparable Jean Grae — one of the smartest, most fearless rappers in the business — school you in the classics. Listen to her pitch-perfect mix of timeless backyard jams after the jump. Believe us: You want to be listening to what she’s listening to.
Scroll down to listen to the mixtape in full.
1. “Inside Out” — Odyssey This is the song I use when I’m feeling crappy or just need to dance and feel good in general. The string section on this song is ridiculous. My favorite “uplifting” song of “all tiiiiime.”< M. Ali voice
2. “All I Do” — Stevie Wonder It was hard to narrow down the Stevie joints, but this would be the one. People go crazy and dance their faces off. The original Tammi Terrell version is a great song to play before this, if you like to show off.
3. “PYT” — Michael Jackson Again, hard to narrow down the MJ songs, but “PYT”… that damn bass line. Maaaaaan.
4. “Outstanding” — Gap Band OK, maybe all the Gap Bands songs sound the same, but it’s like they went in the studio every time and went,”Say guys, let’s make all our records sound like a summer party, or barbecue… solid gold.” OK, maybe they didn’t say “solid gold,” but. It was the 70’s… they probably did.
5. “Funkin’ For Jamaica” — Tom Browne I feel like I don’t have to explain this record, really. It’s just incredible. (I still don’t know who Tom Browne is, or what the hell he does on this song.)
6. “Got To Give It Up (Extended Version)” — Marvin Gaye I’ve seen people who have zero dancing ability turn into the greatest Soul Train line dancers of all time when this song comes on. I think they put subliminal messages in it that say “dance your fucking face off.” Make sure it’s the extended version, for all seven minutes of dance mania.
7. “Summer Madness” — Kool and The Gang This is the greatest chill the fuck out, feel the breeze song. Also, a fight breaks out at the event, play this immediately. If it doesn’t stop the fight, it will, at the least, make it look incredibly cinematic.
8. “Summertime” — DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince Not only is this the spawn of “Summer Madness”… but it’s the greatest contemporary mainstay of summertime… every summer it sounds just as good. Everyone knows all the words, people will recreate video moments. It’s that great. If anyone says “I never liked this song,” kick them out and never speak to them again. They have no soul.
9. “A Lovely Day” — Bill Withers Hey readers, if I have to explain this to you, you shouldn’t be going to, or throwing a backyard jam. You shouldn’t even be listening to music, or reading this, for that matter. You should sit very still, in a dark corner and think about how you’ve wasted your life learning NOTHING.
10. “I Wanna Be Your Lover (Extended Version)” — Prince Also a great “Hey, I just met you and think I might really like you, or it may just be the 89 drinks I just had, but let’s let this song be an excuse to dance really close up on each other and make sexy faces while Prince says what I’d like to be saying to you but there’s too many people around right now, we should try and find an empty room, or go to your car or something, no really you’re fucking HOT,” song… It’s just a banging song. Extended version with guitar change is a MUST.
11. “Simply Beautiful” — Al Green Yup. Another cool out, “Who am I making out with?” jam. It is simply and soothingly beautiful. End-of-party music must have.