The sun is high in the blue summer sky, the charcoal briquettes are glowing at just the right temperature, and your crew is gathered around you in eager anticipation to behold the majesty of your magical skills behind the grill. The only thing absent? The perfect tunes to marinate the whole scene. Through a series of complex, charbroiled experiments, we have calibrated the optimal BPM (beats per minute), vibe, and attitude needed to take your summer barbecue from genetically modified slumping to organic, farm-to-table bumping. Yes, these prime tracks celebrating the golden era of hip-hop and new jack swing all come cruising in at that 90-100 BPM wheelhouse that keeps you nodding your head when flipping your preferred meats of choice at the next backyard BBQ.
“Talk About A Girl” by Charizma & Peanut Butter Wolf
Following Cupid’s remarkable ode to falling in love at a barbecue and a couple tunes that maintain the groove of the opener (with limited BBQ referencing), Charizma & Peanut Butter Wolf continue the laidback swagger with “Talk About A Girl.” Hailing from Milpitas, California (just outside San Jose), Charizma & Peanut Butter Wolf were a crazy promising MC/DJ duo that never got to realize its potential due to the senseless killing of Charizma in December 1993. Inspired by his fallen friend (and their questionable record deal with Disney-owned Hollywood Records), Peanut Butter Wolf went on to form Stones Throw Records, which has become one of the best independent labels with such artists as Madlib, J Dilla, Washed Out, and Dam-Funk, to name a few. On “Talk About A Girl,” Charizma dips and dives around spending time with the talked-about girl in question while Peanut Butter Wolf provides the prized, piano-driven ’90s beat to get those steaks/sausages/burgers sizzling.
“BBQ” by Ollie Dodge/No Alia$
Bringing the goods on one of six songs on the mixtape entitled “BBQ,” Ollie Dodge, aka No Alia$, is a new producer from Haverhill, Massachusetts. I often try to give a tip of the cap to those on the mix with less fame and fortune (who are hopefully headed that way), and Ollie Dodge is def worth investigating. Creating solid grooves with innovative samples and fresh beats, Ollie Dodge delivers the high-fidelity merchandise in less time than Amazon Prime, and on “BBQ,” he serves up a perfectly cooked track complete with tropical breezy guitar, deep fat basslines, and homemade saucy beats to stylishly complement your grillin’ techniques as you deftly sear the outside while retaining the vital juices inside.
“Beats, Beer & BBQ” by Brous One with Prince Po and Matiah Chinaski
Santiago, Chile-born producer/rapper Brous One (now splitting time between Chile and Germany), has a feel-good, downtempo, hip-hop magic touch. Since dropping his debut LP, Un Momento en el Tiempo, in 2012, Brous One has been on a prolific tear in creating miles of killer instrumentals (and a parking lot full of collaborations with both Chilean and German rappers). With a sparse beat, truncated upright bass, and a little lazy trumpet, “Beats, Beer & BBQ” finds Brous One chillaxing in the studio with Prince Po and Matiah Chinaski. Together they provide you with just the right amount of kick while you’re kickin’ it at the park or in your backyard.
“Sunshine” by The Avalanches
Oh, what a wondrous mystery be The Avalanches. Sneaking up on you out of Melbourne, Australia, The Avalanches are a truly innovative crew of musicians, producers, and DJs fabricating next-level, forward-thinking, way-outside-the-box tunes that feel both retro and boundary-pushing at the same time. You might best remember them for their two hits, “Since I Left You” and “Frontier Psychiatry” off the debut album Since I Left You, released in 2000. The next proper album, Wildflower, wasn’t released until 16 years later; Robbie Chater and Tony Di Blasi are the two remaining forces in the collective. The track “Sunshine” off of Wildflower is the most left-of-center tune on the mix and its inclusion is inspired by the modulating, paradisaical ambiance it provides as a nice little moment to take some deep breaths and stretch our your limbs before returning to the oversized fork, spatula, and tongs that you wield so masterfully over the hot coals.
“Backyard BBQ” by Blue Wednesday
Hard to find much info on the beatmaker, Joseph Gustav, behind Blue Wednesday, but I dig the dude’s work. Splitting time between Vancouver, Canada, and Berlin (which sounds pretty sweet), Blue Wednesday creates feel-good, hip-hop-based instrumentals that could soundtrack all manner of hanging out. On the track “Backyard BBQ,” Blue Wednesday steps out of the sliding glass door in its terrycloth robe with some Ron Burgundy-esque flute loops that invite the listener to come on in, throw your beers in the cooler, and grab a paper plate, because this tri-tip steak is ready to go.
May the joy you derive from basking in this homemade barbecue sauce-soaked mix spread to your grill and all who partake in its glorious bounty!