What’s the Mood?: Workout

For my second-to-last column, I’ll be talking about a frequently requested playlist — that is, a workout playlist. Now, I understand that most people, including myself, listen to hip hop music while running or lifting, but if my previous nine columns haven’t given it away already, I can’t say that I’m entirely well-versed in that kind of music to have interesting takes that aren’t just mainstream artists. That being said, I’ve tried to assemble a list of some of my favorite workout songs, mainstream or not, that are great to listen to when exercising.

  1. “17:35” by Stoop Kids
  2. “Dojah” by Kid Indigo
  3. “Wedding Crashers” by Aminé and Offset
  4. “Doubt It” by KYLE
  5. “Aerosol Can” by Major Lazer and Pharrell Williams
  6. “Perfect People” by Mr B
  7. “Slide” by Calvin Harris, Frank Ocean and Migos
  8. “Right Above It” by Lil Wayne and Drake
  9. “Bonfire” by Childish Gambino
  10. “Saintlike” by Jakey
  11. “Otis” by Kanye West and Jay-Z

​Just giving it a listen, my personal musical biases obviously show. Generally, I like the kinds of hip hop music that have a sing-songy aspect to them, like “Wedding Crashers” (2017) or “Doubt It” (2016). Also, I find songs that mix genres to be quite interesting as well, like “17:35” (2015), which I can only describe as being a cross between rap and doo-wop, a mashup which you might not expect. The song that I think is the most interesting on this playlist, though, is “Perfect People” (2014), a song that tells the story of a stereotypical valley girl and samples the 1954 Chordettes song, “Mr. Sandman.” While many of the earliest songs sampled in hip hop music today date back to the late ’60s and early ’70s, it’s quite remarkable to find a sampled song from the 1950s. It’s even more fascinating to consider how “Mr. Sandman” has kept its relevance in popular music for 65 years, surviving into a genre of music that’s seemingly antithetical to its barbershop origins. It was perhaps most famously sampled in “Mr. Clean” (2018) by Yung Gravy, but it has also been sampled by a number of other hip hop artists, including Russ and Wu-Tang Clan members Method Man and RZA.

​On a different note, some of my favorite hype-up songs are on this playlist. One of them is “Otis” (2011) by Kanye and Jay-Z from their collaboration album “Watch the Throne” (2011), which uses samples from Otis Redding’s “Try A Little Tenderness” (1966). In “Otis,” Kanye and Jay-Z brag about their wealth and fame over a melodic beat sung by Redding, and it’s always able to pump me up, especially before sports games. Another great pump-up song is “Right Above It” (2010) by Lil Wayne and Drake. I associate it most with the opening credits for the HBO series “Ballers” (2015–2019) which features the song with a minute-long montage of people playing football and doing workouts. Whenever I listen to “Right Above It,” I feel like I’m in that same montage, and I hope that one day, I’ll maybe be half as cool as the Rock.

Here’s the link if you want to listen: https://spoti.fi/32TCl8N.


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