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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.


Steely Dan – Aja
What don't I say about Aja? We all have our different experiences with Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, but everything that they've created throughout the years is really awesome. I have a few albums of theirs I love; Can't Buy A Thrill, Katy Lied, Pretzel Logic, but there's a number of reasons why I am totally in love with Aja. It stems from the personnel, the feel, and how much it was a stab in another direction of pop culture. It was anti-pop, it was a bit on the outskirts of everything, I think. It's always funny listening to Donald Fagen singing about stuff because it's like, 'what's the guy rambling on about?' sometimes.

A couple of my favourite musicians are on it; like Steve Gadd and, again, Michael McDonald. When I realised this was Michael McDonald singing background I lost my fucking mind, like, straight up. I always loved the Doobie Brothers and I knew his hits because of hip hop and stuff, but I remember being like 'Who's this magical person singing these dissonant chords behind the changes with ease with this weird timbre of voice?' – and you look at the credits and of course it's Michael McDonald.

Aja, if I can't listen to it in its entirety then I get mad; I get pissed because I want to go through the whole album every time. One of my favourite moments on the album is Steve Gadd playing out on actual song 'Aja'; the way that just like the drum feels and everything – I don't know how to play drums but I love to try to act like I play drums to that one moment when he takes a slight solo at the end. Steve Gadd was always one of my favourite drummers ever because of the choices of records and stuff that he would do.

Aja is he was he was one of those moments that it spanned out to everybody at that point. It was like at the height of their popularity. That was what happened and it was perfect.