A 2019 mixtape

Let me be your DJ

Pardis Noorzad
7 min readJan 2, 2020
Photo by Jesse Meria.

Following the tradition from last year, I picked out 20 songs from 2019. Before we get into that, here are a few interesting links.

My friend Q—a great source of musical inspiration—has put together best-of-2019 playlists. Surely you’ll find some treasures you missed.

There is also an amazing 2019 compilation by passionweiss.com. You know how the experience of drinking a glass of wine is heightened if someone explains its story and origin? This is that but for songs.

DJBooth published a list of top albums of the year. I look to their commentary for education.

Here is the list. The songs are ordered so they flow well together.

The songs

Make It Easy by Big K.R.I.T.— K.R.I.T. IZ HERE.
Produced by DJ Camper and Luke Witherspoon, Make It Easy is the rapper’s celebration of his accomplishments and his process. With 19 tracks, K.R.I.T. IZ HERE is his 4th studio album and 2nd independent release. The album title is a reference to his 2010 mixtape K.R.I.T. Wuz Here.

GONE, GONE / THANK YOU by Tyler, The Creator — IGOR.
This is track number 10 on Tyler, The Creator’s fifth studio album. I learned on Genius that he has a tradition of mixing multiple songs on the 10th track of his albums. This is exactly what I love about this song: just when you think you know how it’s going to end it hits you with some more awesomeness.

As an example check out this part of the song, which includes a tasteful interpolation of Tatsuro Yamashita’ Fragile.

This multi-part structure is a suitable choice for this song. It captures all the various emotions; because in a breakup there rarely is just one, amirite.

Coco Mango Diced (Boy Scout Mix) by Damu The Fudgemunk & MF DOOM — Single.
I am a fan of all MF DOOM content. This is a remix of a 2012 song called Coco Mango. fatbeats.com provides some history and context on this Damu The Fudgemunk remix.

Let’s take a moment to appreciate the vinyl cover art.

Squad Up [feat. Havoc] by Street Life & Method Man — Single.
This is the debut single from Street Life & Method Man’s first collaboration LP. Produced by Havoc (one half of the hip-hop duo Mobb Deep), this song pays homage to Prodigy (the other half of Mobb Deep).

Follow God by Kanye West — JESUS IS KING.
Beautifully produced by Xcelence, Kanye West & Boogz, this song samples Whole Truth’s Can You Lose By Following God. See 1:32.

The lyrics are memorable. “I don’t even like likes” is my IG bio. And “nobody never tell you when you’re being like Christ” is a reminder that we should praise more the good in people, rather than just voicing the bad.

Bad Name by Gang Starr — One of the Best Yet.
This is Gang Starr’s seventh album, produced by DJ Premier and featuring posthumous vocals from MC Guru. Gang Starr (Preemo and Guru) hadn’t worked together since 2004 and Guru passed away in 2010; this project by DJ Premier is a beautiful tribute.

Got It Covered [feat. O.C. & Adela] by Diamond D — The Diam Piece 2.
The Diam Piece 2 (TDP2) is legendary producer Diamond D’s seventh studio album. The self-produced album features rap veterans Raekwon, Snoop Dogg, Pharoahe Monch, Fat Joe, Styles P, Twista, David Banner, Boot Camp Clik, Grand Puba, O.C., Havoc, and others.

On each song of the album, Jamila Woods celebrates a hero and the path they have created for her. GIOVANNI is about renowned poet Nikki Giovanni and references her poem “Ego Tripping (there may be a reason why)”.

My son noah built new/ark and
I stood proudly at the helm
as we sailed on a soft summer day
I turned myself into myself and was
men intone my loving name
All praises All praises
I am the one who would save

— Nikki Giovanni

Crowns for Kings [feat. Black Thought] by Benny The Butcher — The Plugs I Met.
Benny The Butcher is part of the hip-hop group Griselda with Westside Gunn and Conway The Machine. This year he released his second solo EP, The Plugs I Met. This particular song has made it to most people’s year-in-review list. DJ Shay masterfully samples Al Green’s Look What You Done For Me. See 1:33.

hotnewhiphop.com does a good job explaining the significance of this song.

Kool Aid by KIRBY — Single.
If you haven’t heard, I am a huge fan of KIRBY. Signed to RocNation, her impressive list of songwriting projects include Beyonce, Rihanna, Elijah Blake, BOOTS, Kanye West, and Alexa Goddard. Outside projects include: Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato, Keyshia Cole, Brandy, Monica, Fleur East, Timbaland, Joy Enriquez, Sia, and Jennifer Lopez. In Kool Aid, her lyrics are smart and humorous and her voice unrivaled.

Soursop [feat. Masta Killa, Harley, Solomon Childs] by Ghostface Killah — Ghostface Killahs.
Ghostface Killahs is Wu-Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah’s 13th solo album. He is joined by fellow Wu-Tang members including Method Man, Inspectah Deck, Cappadonna, & Masta Killa. In Soursop, producer Danny Caiazzo samples the 1997 reggae song Substitute Lover by Half Pint.

Fade Away by Illa J — Single.
There’s not much online about this single by Illa J, but I am keeping a close eye on his work. In this song, he talks about his style and artistic process.

Sufi Woman by Jidenna — 85 to Africa.
85 to Africa is the second studio album by Jidenna. Sufi Woman producer Nana Kwabena and Jidenna are both signed to Janelle Monae’s label Wondaland. I learned about this song when a friend showed me the music video, directed by Fatima Asghar.

Czarface Theme by CZARFACE — Dog Days Of Tomorrow — EP.
The hip-hop trio (7L & Esoteric and Wu-Tang Clan member Inspectah Deck) CZARFACE had a busy 2019. Aside from this EP, they released three full-length albums. There are many great songs to choose from in their year’s body of work. I chose this one because it transports me to a distant yet familiar comical land. And there’s an associated comic book.

Dog Days Of Tomorrow vinyl cover. From here.

Kool Jazz by Pete Rock — Return of the SP1200.
Instrumentals invite the listener’s imagination onto the main stage. This song by acclaimed producer Pete Rock is a marvelous show.

Save Me by Twitch — Single.
My favorite song on the list is this single by Ghanaian artist Twitch. This is his commentary about the song.

Everyone suffers at least one bad situation in their lifetime. It’s what unites us. The trick is not to let it destroy your hustle when that happens. One brick a day.


Baps by Letherette — Brown Lounge, Vol. 5.
I wasn’t able to find too much about this song by UK electronic music production duo Letherette; the album is not on their Wikipedia page. I like this song for its heavy use of samples.

Love, Of Money by MAVI — Let the Sun Talk.
Let The Sun Talk is Mavi’s debut album. The slower tempo at 74 BPM and the mellow vocals were the main attraction for me.

FLAVOR [feat. Aarxn Cxle & R&D] by Sim Simah — Single.
At a 2019 new year’s party I met Aarxn Cxle and his brother: the one and only Sim Simah. And so it happened that in late 2019, I had the honor of DJing their San Francisco and Oakland shows.

On FLAVOR, the two brothers collaborate. You should also check out the music video for Ugly Sad Funk. Produced by NTrP, it is from Sim Simah’s 2019 album entitled Blue Light Anthems.

Liquid Supply Daily by iLoveMakonnen — M3 — EP.
M3 is the 6th EP by iLoveMakonnen of Tuesday (the single featuring Drake) fame. Liquid Supply Daily is a happy song and good way to wrap up the playlist. Read more about both iLoveMakonnen and M3 on them.us.

Streaming options

The playlist is available on Apple Music and Spotify.

I went to see Dead and Company at the Chase Center last night, thanks to the invitation from by friends Kurt and Chaz. It was great to get to know the work of The Grateful Dead in the past months as their history is so intertwined with that of the city.

Thank you for reading.
Please get in touch and let me know your favorite songs.

DJ Pardis