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Baker's Dozen

Creating A Songwriter: The 13 Albums That Made Thundercat
Rob Hakimian , April 14th, 2020 08:53

The virtuoso bassist takes Rob Hakimian through his musical life story with a baker's dozen that traces his trajectory from kid messing with his parents' records to the in-demand player that he is today. Photographs by The1Point8.


Gino Vannelli - The Gist Of The Gemini
Gino Vannelli's albums were what made me feel it was possible to be a songwriter. When I was younger I used to do a lot of production work with my cousin Brian Warfield, we had our own studio. He went on later on to produce artists like Jhené Aiko and Miguel, but before that I feel like I was very much his very first hep artist, his homeboy at least, just making music together. We'd go buy records to sample and then we would work on music and go eat Yoshinoya.

I remember my older brother came over, and he picked up Gino Vannelli's album on a fluke. I'd never seen it, I'd never paid attention to it, it was just sitting in the pile of records. My older brother put the first song on to find the sample and the way the record starts out grabbed my attention because of the style progressions that are happening immediately.

When he left I put the record on and it washed over me and transformed me. There's songs that when you actually put them on you lose control of yourself almost, and you go into this thing where you start to sing, and all of a sudden you are a singer because this is something that you love so much. And when I would hear Gino Vannelli, I would pay attention to the lyrics, I'd pay attention to what he was singing about; some love loss or some mythology or something weird that a woman that has done to him.

This is one of my favourite albums, Gist of the Gemini. Along with Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald, he kind of shaped my songwriting and kind of let me know what it was to write songs. I was always told that you have to be honest in the music, but I was like 'well how do you do that?', and the people that taught me how to do that were Gino Vannelli, Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins, with a couple of other people too.