Forest Blakk’s “Urban Folk”
“People often ask me who or what I sound like, and for the longest time I didn’t quite know how to answer them. I found myself stumbling through different genres, cherry picking artists to try and bridge familiar sounds that would best represent my work. I don’t fully recall when it happened but one day after being asked for an answer to that taunting question, I mindlessly replied, “it’s folk music chasing the beat of a city, so I guess you could call it Urban Folk.” From that moment onward I’ve kept Urban Folk in my back pocket for those days when my favorite question comes up!” – Forest Blakk
This was the first song that stole the heart of my imagination. Don Henley’s lyrics just hit me so hard. On the surface, the song sings as you would expect, but once you dive deeper into the words, you can’t help but see all these layers unfold. It’s timeless! “Desperado” has been one of my greatest mentors in music and still today stands as “the one song” that makes me question myself when writing.
Bone Thugs N-Harmony, “Crossroads”
I can still remember hearing “Crossroads” for the first time when I was a kid in Montreal. I couldn’t get it out of my head, and to be honest I didn’t want to. It was actually the first “tape” I ever bought and I would happily buy it again today!
James Bay, “Incomplete”
“I breathe in slow to compose myself
But the bleeding heart I left on the shelf
Started speeding round, beating half to death
‘Cause you’re here and you’re all mine”
I have nothing to add. This song is a gift!
The Fugees, “The Score”
This track was just so raw! I loved every single element. From the sound of the snare to the vibe of the electric supporting each line as they’re being delivered, it was and still is perfect.
Sia, “Breathe Me”
I first heard “Breathe Me” while going through a break up, a really bad break up. I cried every time I heard Sia open her mouth. I felt every single word and breath in between. It was as if she was singing to me, and only me. This song stole the air from my lungs for the better part of a year. It still gets me!
Lucy Pearl, “Dance Tonight”
The production! The vocals! The time and space! I love this song so much. Simply put, this song makes me want to spend my money and dance the night away. Plus the world can always use a little more Raphael Saadiq.
From the opening line I was hooked. “Jealous” transported me to a different place and time. It was like a scene in a movie where the world slowed down for a second just so you could sit in the feeling for a moment longer.
“It’s hard for me to say/I’m jealous of the way/you’re happy without me”
Can I have my heart back now?
Missy Elliott, “Gossip Folks”
Missy Elliott is still the most badass woman in music in my opinion. She has always been risky, her style can’t be matched, and she will kick anyone’s ass when it comes to manipulating words. I just loved her and wished I could be as cool.
She is a legend.
The thing about Stromae is that whether or not you speak or understand French, you still get the essence of this record. There’s such a struggle between the words and energy in his performance. It is a conversation between pain, anguish, and chivalry. I’m obsessed with this track and have been for a while now.
Gavin James, “Bitter Pill”
Every so often there is an artist that has the ability to stand out amongst the rest. Gavin is a prime example of that. Not only is he incredibly gifted, he literally is a wonderful human being. I love Gavs writing style, his lyrics, but most of all his passion for music. Luckily I get to call him my friend in real life and besides, playlists are not half as fun without your friends being in them! If you don’t already know who Gavin James is, go check him out, I promise he is worth it!
Kevin Garrett, “Never Knock”
“And I’m a stubborn one
I’ll hide as best I can
Got this bright idea
If I show my fear
I’ll be less of a man
And I think too much
But I don’t feel enough
With the gun to my head
And I might confess
That it’s you I love”
This song… The way the dry vocals meet the wet delays in the crucial moments, so much detail. “Never Knock” makes me feel insecure in the best way possible.
Montell Jordan, “This Is How We Do It”
C’mon, do I even need to explain this one? Classic!
Alex Ebert, “Truth”
I never in my life thought I would tattoo someone else’s lyrics on my body, but that all changed the minute I heard “Truth” by Alex Ebert. I remember booking a flight to see my tattoo artist in Montreal the very next day. These lyrics found me when I needed them the most and are now part of me for life.
The Game, 50 Cent, “Hate It Or Love It”
I don’t think I played another track for a month straight when this record came out. I hung on to every line. I was an underdog in my life taking notes on how not to be! My life wasn’t built on love songs and poetry. I was homeless for most of my teen years and had to fight to keep myself sane. Even to this day this song still hits me. The lyrics are masked by a catchy beat but if you listen close enough you’ll really hear what’s going on.
Hate it or love it, the underdog’s on top and I’m gonna shine, homie, until my heart stops!
John Mayer, “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room”
“My dear, we’re slow dancing in a burnin’ room”
Talk about painting with words.
Everything about this record is timeless to me. The tones are unmatched. It is my past, my future, my present. Ive listened to this record on repeat everywhere between a cold day in New York right to a sunset on the beaches of Jamaica. It is perfect.
Aaliyah, “Try Again”
The Queen of Urban Pop lending her vocals to an equally incredible Timberland production … what’s not to love about this record? Need I say more?
Ben E. King, “Stand By Me ”
Okay, I know you’re either thinking great choice, or, really? But hear me out… this is the most classic, timeless song I can think of. It’s iconic, it’s romantic, hell it even has its own chord progression named after it called the “stand by me changes”. Go ahead and call me old fashioned but songs of this nature are what song-writing is all about. It’s true, pure, honest craftsmanship between words and melodies.
I was fortunate enough to perform “Stand By Me” on stage along side Ben E. King himself before his passing. To date that has been one of the greatest moments I’ve had in my career.
JAY-Z, “Hard Knock Life”
“Hard Knock Life” wasn’t just any record, it was an ANTHEM for all of us who dreamed of being more than what was built for us. There’s no smoke and mirrors here. This is up close and personal with the hand you were dealt. This is what it’s like to be at the bottom struggling to survive and then taking the world by storm! Nothing is written in stone unless you say it is!
Bet on yourself, that way you’ll never lose!
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