Playlist Party


Flashback to 1993 when my friend Justin played his Wu-Tang Clan tape in my car. I wasn’t feeling it initially so he proceeded to explain to me why it was so dope. After dubbing the tape for me, and after a couple more listens, I was a fan, and like Justin, became an advocate telling everyone that would listen how dope Wu-Tang was.

The Wu Tang Clan

In 2000 I heard one of my favorite songs being played as background music at Macy’s but didn’t know the name of it or the artist. so I wouldn’t forget it, I kept whistling the melody until I got back to work where I whistled it for Sandy, a colleague who was a former radio DJ. She knew the song, but couldn’t remember the artist or title. She thought it may be The Pat Metheny Group, and since that was a group I’d never heard of, she let me hear some of their music (by way of CDs) and explained why she absolutely loved them. After realizing that it wasn’t them she further explored her mental rolodex: Herb Albert? No. Bob James? No. Chuck Mangione? Yes! One question about a song sparked a 45 minute conversation about music and I was turned on to four great jazz acts that I didn’t know about. I went on to see Chuck Mangione in concert and his greatest hits album, to this day, is one of my prize music possessions.

Chuck Mangione

In 2007, while my business partner Dawn and I were working on our respective laptops, I opened iTunes and chose a song from my almost four thousand MP3s to vibe to. “Remember this song?” I asked, subtly implying that it may be too old school for her. As I searched for the next track, she began rifling through her MP3s for a more obscure song and before I could load up the next track she played a song by an artist I’d never heard of named Drake. This sparked a very entertaining two-hour back-and-forth where we each tried to educate, outdo, and ultimately entertain each other using music.

I routinely find myself trying to recreate these feelings while currently browsing my various streaming platforms. Where is that breakout artist or group that no one knows yet, or that song that causes goosebumps to form on my arm? I explore playlists, albums, friend recommendations, and even robot ones (algorithms), but even though I occasionally come across something special, I feel like something is missing.

Hannah Williams Kwaku Asante  Circles Around The Sun

Until recently I didn’t know what that something missing was, but now I know. It’s Justin, Sandy, and Dawn. It’s trying to outdo the last track Dawn played or having Justin convince me to give that Wu-Tang tape another listen or whistling Chuck Mangione’s “Feels So Good” for Sandy. It’s that actual human interaction, the ability to empathetically put forth or absorb feelings associated with a song, artist, or group.

Recently, before a trip to Las Vegas, I told everyone to create short playlists containing songs that fit their interpretations of the vibe that is Vegas. What it turned into was something special, competitive, informative, and fun! The seed was planted. I thought, “A party featuring attendee-created playlists would be a…PLAYLISTPARTY…that would be dope!”

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