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Baker's Dozen

Future Islands Discs: Samuel T. Herring's Favourite Albums
Patrick Clarke , October 14th, 2020 08:40

From teenage years spent amassing an arsenal of underground hip hop CDs to his first forays into jazz, post-rock and indie, Future Islands' Samuel T. Herring picks thirteen records that soundtracked his coming of age


The Roots - Illadelph Halflife

When you’re a fledgling rapper trying to string words together, and you first hear Black Thought, you’re like ‘wow’. He had that freestyle from two or three years ago go viral and everyone’s like ‘Woah, Black Thought can rap!’ It’s like, this motherfucker’s been doing this for 30 years! He’s been killing it! Recently Malik B passed, the other long-time rapper in The Roots, and he’s really showcased on this record. I really like duos or trios of rappers where all their styles play off each other and elevate each other. I feel like Malik B was even more raw, you can hear it in his flow and in his words that he’s battling with his personal demons through the music. Where Black Thought was effortless and felt like he could rap forever, Malik B felt like he was fighting for it.

I love the whole album but the song ‘The Hypnotic’ is really important to me. He’s talking about his early memories of this girl he was introduced to by a friend growing up, and how they became really good friends but she had to move away and his life went on. Years pass and he’s making music doing his thing, and one day she just crosses his mind – I’m getting goosebumps just talking about it – and he hits up his old friend like ‘when did you last see Alana’ and his ’Response beyond sombre incredible crushed… To find out that her life was over - it made the room feel colder / I thought I could get with her when she was a little older / But she a victim of the wicked system that controlled her it's all chaotic / But if my life it's symbolic forever shadow on my mental I never forgot it’. The way he builds this beautiful instrumental and by the end she’s this person that you just fell in love with who’s dead. It still gets me. That was a really early version of teaching me what you can do with songwriting.