When I make a mixtape, I tend to focus first and foremost on the playlist’s transitions — the connective tissue between the songs on the mix. I’ll choose an opening track and then actively search out another one whose beginning simply sounds good coming right after the ending of the first song; fundamentally, the mixtape is a sonic journey, a linear path that the listener follows, so every metaphorical step must make sense in the context of the one that immediately preceded it. I don’t believe there’s anything particularly novel about this additive, song-by-song method of mixtape curation, but as I started to assemble this Chocolate Grinder mix, I began to consciously consider the limitations and possibilities of this technique. It occurred to me that, when I make a tape for a specific person, I try to stick to a generally consistent vibe throughout the entirety of the mix; a Wolf Eyes track and a Danny Brown song are unlikely to exist on the same CD.
But why not? With this eight-song playlist, I decided to undo all of the restrictions on genre, artist, or any other category that I normally self-impose while making a mix; the only criterion for each track was that it had to make sense — often on a basic sonic/aesthetic level, but occasionally in terms of context — in relation to the song that came directly before it. And before this introduction becomes completely overlong, I have to mention one fascinating result of this unrestricted, automatist method of mixtape curation: in seemingly every draft of this mix that I came up with, unexpected and completely unpremeditated connections between the songs were revealed. For example, it wasn’t until several listens through this final version of the mix that I realized that Dean Blunt’s chilling repetition of “There are gonna be gunshots” at the end of “Six” foreshadows “Hold My Liquor’s” intrinsic link (both in Justin Vernon’s referential opening lyric, as well as in Chief Keef’s legal issues) to the gun violence that continues to cripple certain part of Chicago.
Stream below, and subscribe to our podcast here.
[00:00] Takako Minekawa and Dustin Wong - “Party on a Floating Cake”
[04:53] Julianna Barwick - “One Half”
[08:00] Dean Blunt - “Six”
[10:34] Co La - “Remarkable Features”
[14:09] Arca - “Anaesthetic”
[16:08] Kanye West - “Hold My Liquor”
[19:53] Lil Wayne - “Love Me (feat. Drake & Future)”
[23:58] Carly Rae Jepsen - “Call Me Maybe (Saint Pepsi remix)”