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Noteworthy: Anatomy of a Playlist (2-17-2020)

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Ivan from Noteworthy again (Mondays, 6 PM-8 PM CT). I’m back to give you another Anatomy of a Playlist. It’s a detailed breakdown of what goes into a recent edition of Noteworthy and answers why I made certain song choices.

I do delve into some bigger issues surrounding news and trends in the music industry on my show, but I always like to start things on a more personal level. I look back at my week in music and ask what were some of the key moments for me as an individual fan.

For this week, a visit to my barbershop highlighted the reverence of Lil’ Wayne and I talked about why The Carter III is still held in such high regard by music fans. With the recent release of Funeral, an appearance on The Masked Singer, and two cameos at NBA All-Star Weekend, it’s more apparent than ever that people are still excited to see him.

With “Dr. Carter” being such a laid-back track, it felt like an opportune time to finally play Kota The Friend on the show. I discovered his 2019 album, FOTO, late last year, so it’s been fresh on my mind these past few months. I usually prefer to start things off with high energy songs, but having done this enough times, there was still plenty of room to branch out and keep things eclectic.



From there, it was easy to pivot into something more soulful. At the beginning of each new year, I’m really just relying on a lot of favorites from the previous year, which is why I landed on a few more cuts from 2019 releases.

I was really huge on Zaska’s single, “It’s Ridiculous,” and his debut album, It Takes A Village, had its share of quality tunes as well. One of my favorite tricks when building up the eventual transition to another genre is to either use songs with similar elements or use songs that are very minimal. “Wear” comes along pretty softly with a quiet arrangement. That was able to fit in nicely with Jill Scott’s “I Think It’s Better,” which is even more stripped down.



I’ve been participating in #MWE this month on Twitter and one of the albums I decided to finally listen to was Mercury Rev’s Deserter’s Songs. The challenge here was how to make that leap from Lil’ Wayne at the very beginning to an orchestral rock cult classic. Like I stated before, I prefer more energy at the beginning of a show, but having a consistent mood allowed that transition to Mercury Rev to go smoother. I kept the minimalism going with the Sade track and a lot of the credit goes to Moses Sumney to being that sorely-needed bridge.

The singles leading up to his new album, græ, have more than delivered when it comes to dramatic textures and they make a nice companion to a Dave Fridmann production.



While a consistent mood is nice, I try not to keep at a certain feel for too long. I find that some variation in sound makes for a more engaging show, so I opted to pick things up a little bit for the next segment.

In order to keep things smooth, I went with another song that felt minimal as well. 070 Shake’s “Guilty Conscience” starts off wonderfully enough with just synth and vocals before things pick back up with the inclusion of the drums. They’re the heaviest thing listeners of the show will have heard in a while, so it captures the attention, but not so much that it’s disorienting or too noticeable. It also happens to be one of my favorite songs of the early 2020s.



Since things were veering towards the electronic side, it allowed me to dig into Prince’s catalog to help me make more transitions. I rely on him at least once a month for these exact situations.

I also knew that I wanted to end things with a Common song, especially after he represented Chicago so proudly at the NBA All-Star Game, so if I could get somewhere close to the R&B lane, I would have a lot of his stuff to choose from.

Once I got to The-Dream, I could play one of my favorite tracks from Mereba’s 2019 album, The Jungle Is The Only Way Out. It came out so early in the year that I think that might have played a role in it being overlooked in a lot of the year-end lists. “Stay Tru” is one of the most soulful cuts on there and it didn’t sound out of place next to “Show Me That You Love.”



Listen to Ivan on Noteworthy live Mondays at uicradio.org from 6PM-8PM CT. You can also keep up with Noteworthy on Twitter and Facebook.

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