Some strong hip hop, some great reggae, an instrumental trifle, and some classic rock. It's Five Songs!
A Tribe Called Quest, "After Hours"
Part of a blossoming reaction to the preeminent aesthetic of late 80s hip hop, A Tribe Called Quest quickly became the greatest of the acts rejecting the posturing of so many of their peers. From their very first album, People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm (which this song comes from), they were already executing a fully realized artistic vision, one perfected in their next album, The Low End Theory. The focus on addressing topics that other groups weren't talking about along with a sonic palette that included far more jazz than was the norm helped them stand out from just about anybody else, excepting maybe De La Soul (who were frequent collaborators). Simply put, A Tribe Called Quest is one of the giants of hip-hop, and their first three albums are all essential listening.
Flying Lotus, "Stirring"
Just a short little instrumental piece from You're Dead here.
Bruce Springsteen, "It's Hard To Be A Saint In The City"
I'm honestly not much of a Springsteen guy. I know how much of a debt so many acts owe him, sure. But I've never really tried to dive too far into his discography, so I'm afraid I can't provide any novel insight here. Don't worry, there are plenty of tedious old white guys who have your back on the subject!
Mark Ronson, "On The Run"
The world knows Ronson as the guy behind the ubiquitous "Uptown Funk", but I first noticed him as one of the people behind Amy Whinehouse's tremendous Back To Black. Going back into his records from there, I picked up Here Comes The Fuzz, which set the template for so many of his later albums. Working with a bunch of collaborators, he went all over the map, but always showcasing his production. This track, featuring the always great Mos Def, is one of the better songs on the album.
Toots & The Maytals, "In the Dark"
Always, always happy to hear Toots & The Maytals pop up.