Adrian Daniel: 5 Albums That Changed My Life
It’s no secret that Brooklyn is a hotbed for some of music’s greatest acts, but the borough’s hip-hop presence can easily overshadow its talents in other genres. For singer and BK native Adrian Daniel, this flaw is far from a setback; in fact, it’s pushed him even more. As an R&B vocalist, he looks to expand the Brooklyn sound, and as a lover of music, it’s inspired him to encourage other artists to do the same.
It’s a hot summer day in June, and I’m sitting on a Brooklyn rooftop opposite Adrian Daniel, who, behind his shades, lights up when talking about his own music and the acts that have informed it. And though we speak largely of legends like Prince and Michael Jackson, Daniel makes it clear that his attention and respect is equally allotted to the acts yet to be discovered and the ones on the come-up.
With a forthcoming album on the way, Daniel, who has also created corresponding animations for the LP, intends to revive Brooklyn R&B and remind other musicians that community is an essential part of the craft.
Michael Jackson, Bad
So first up, Michael Jackson’s Bad album. One of the most incredible albums in the world. I think, for me, just seeing him on the cover of that and hearing where he went sonically, and the mixture of rock & roll and pop music; I just love it so much. It resonated with me. Especially ‘Dirty Diana’ and ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’ and ‘Man in the Mirror.’ when I was a kid I was like, ‘This is everything. This is everything to me.’
Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
The reason why [My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy] was so important for me is just because the music, the mixing of these different elements with Kanye. ‘Cause you never know what Kanye’s going to do, whether he’s singing or he’s rapping. Or he’s not even saying the words and he’s just like mumbling. It’s some of the best raps and some of the best not-good singing. It sounds so amazing. For me, my favorite part of the album was the end of ‘Runaway.’ When he wasn’t saying words, he was just humming. I remember I was freaking out for a good, like, twenty minutes. So that album, the artwork, everything was just so incredible to me.
Prince, Purple Rain
Purple Rain was the first album my mother played for me, actually. She’s a super Prince fan. Like, super. It’s actually very scary.
The first music I ever heard was ‘Beautiful Ones.’ That was the first song. And I remember, I was like, ‘Ma, why is this guy screaming like that on the song?’ She’s like, ‘It’s feeling.’
So yeah, Prince. God rest his soul, man. Prince is everything to me.
John Mayer, Continuum
John Mayer, that album, listening to that for the first time… It was the first time I really started to understand songwriting and lyrics and telling the story that it makes it so honest.
And I remember when I first heard ‘Gravity.’ I think I was fifteen. And I remember, I was like, ‘Man, why do I feel so heavy?’ The song was called ‘Gravity,’ but I feel heavy listening to this. It was like everything I was going through. I’m fifteen, you know. He’s a lot older than me. We weren’t going through the same things, but I felt everything he was saying in the song. ‘Stop This Train.’ There was so many good songs, and I really started to appreciate songwriting around that time, when I first heard that record.
50 Cent, Get Rich or Die Tryin’
[Get Rich Or Die Tryin'] was everything for me. When we was eleven, twelve. That was the shit. I had the jeans and the sneakers. I had the durag. I used to have the wife beater.
I’m from Brooklyn and of course I’m going to always rep HOVA, but 50, at that time, was a massive force. I wanted to be from Queens for a minute. You know what I mean?
That was like some of the first hip-hop I was hearing. I didn’t even hear HOVA until a little bit after. But 50 was the first thing I heard. And I don’t know. We were bad kids.
G-Unit … that era. Come on. That was Drake before Drake. He was singing and rapping, you know what I’m sayin’. But it was hard, though, and it was real. When we walked outside, the neighborhood I was from, there was a lot of gang activity, so you walk outside and you see exactly what he was talkin’ about.
You see it, and it’s like, man. For me, that was like … People say Tupac; I’m like 50 Cent, Get Rich or Die Tryin’: greatest hip-hop album of all time for me.
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