1. Donna Summer / Giorgio Moroder – I Feel Love – Casablanca Records
This song single handedly sealed the deal to my love for dance music created through synths! I already loved the Queen of Disco anyway, and my life was changed forever from the first chord. The best way to experience it is with an excellent listening device to hear all the innovative genius (in my opinion) and magic Giorgio Moroder put into it, and of course the frosting on the cake – those VOCALS!
2. Al Jarreau – Spain (I Can Recall) – Warner Records
I am very much influenced by Al Jarreau. To me, he is the master of vocalese, and he showed us how to take Chick Corea’s classic instrumental and transform it into a vocal landscape through stellar songwriting and crazy smooth delivery. A deep listen always translates me to the very center of my imagination!
3. Yuna – Best Love – UMG
This is one of my favorite RnB chill songs with a fresh take I just love! It is profoundly simple and yet simply profound with a cool and mellow delivery that gives me vocal intonations similar to Phoebe Snow and Angela Bofill. Just lovely!
4. Inner City – Big Fun – KMS Records
Whenever I start talking about the first track I heard that made me crazy about House and Techno, it is always Big Fun! Prior to me hearing that at a club in LA, I had never heard of Detroit Techno. It reminded me of some of the Electro cuts I heard in the clubs like Egyptian Lover, but hit me like I Feel Love because of its SHEER ENERGY brought by that bassline, that synth stab, and the infectious chord structure. But without Paris Grey’s catchy lyrics and silky vox it wouldn’t be Big Fun!
5. Shaun Escoffery- Days Like This (Spinna & Ticklah Club Mix) – Soulonica
Shaun Escoffery is a Luther Vandross, Marvin Gaye, and Frankie Beverly sammich dipped in silk sauce. To this day, when I play this jam and folks are talking amongst themselves, they stop talking and get into their own zone. I like Spinna’s take on this one, it gives me a feeling of freedom much like Golden Time of Day by Maze featuring Frankie Beverly.
6. Prince – Superfunkycalifragisexy – Erotic City Records
This joint is a clinic on innovative funk/jazz fusion that made me really see Prince’s innovative twists to the master of Funk George Clinton’s funky riffs. I first heard this when a friend of mine gave me a bootlegged copy of The Black Album. Expecting more Purple Rain/Raspberry Beret styled Prince, I was seriously and pleasantly surprised to find out it was all about a genesis of Funk and Fusion!
7. Adonis – No Way Back – Vendetta Records
Oh, rambunctious ACID HOUSE and the TB-303 sounds that drill into your head! If, as Eddie Amador says, “not everyone understands House Music,” surely even less understand the roots of Acid House/Jackin’ house today. I think the genre is and remains ground breaking and in your face. Much like how Inner City slapped me around, so did this genre. I like this particular track because of how the bassline draws me in to the groove.
8. Ashford & Simpson – Bourgie Bourgie – Warner Records
Valerie Simpson and her KILLER rhythmic piano skills. I could listen to this song all day every day… it is a masterpiece that I firmly believe is a true disco progenitor of the house music we enjoy today. Ashford & Simpson are pioneers! The piano vamp Valerie does at around 1:59 surely lays the foundation for many house grooves today!
9. Mary J. Blige – Be Happy – Geffen Records
This song transports my mind to drives down Highland Avenue with the crew on the way to some pre- Starbucks coffee house to check out a poetry slam. Hip Hop Soul vibe. Fingers poppin’. Heads bobbin’. Identifying with the lyrics. Being a girl.
10. Makoto feat. Cleveland Watkiss – Time – Goodlooking
This work by Makoto was so good that I lent the CD to a friend and never got it back! As my first drink of Liquid DnB, this song went deep into my soul – Makoto’s chord changes and harmonies by Cleveland Watkiss always takes me on a delightful journey, and Watkiss invoking the poetry of Neruda’s “The Sea” is an especially poignant treat.