After a 7 year hiatus, the Aruba-born talent is back – and enlightened
Words Marianna Manson
The early noughties aren’t exactly known for its pop culture exports, but there was plenty of raw talent smashing it just beneath the mainstream radar at the turn of the millennium. Take MC Pete Philly and his then musical partner-in-crime Perquisite. They made an impact on the Dutch hip-hop scene when they joined forces in 2002, producing what was then a groundbreaking mish-mash of hip hop, jazz and soul. The duo’s irresistible sound saw them tour the world opening for Kanye West and James Brown, as well as nominations for an MTV EMA.
Following a 7 year hiatus from the industry suffering from Lyme disease, it’s as if Pete Philly never left. And yet, his recovery has seen another element added to his already eclectic sound. Crediting Vipassana meditation with saving his life, his new creative focus is mindfulness – a new-found fascination with spirituality and the human condition have expanded his influence, and his recent live session, recorded at the Red Bull Studio in Amsterdam, is bursting at the seams with raw artistic expression. There’s also his new single, Dear, and upcoming London tour to get excited about. Here, he’s rounded up some of his favourite mindful listening, to really get us thinking about the important things in life.
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TRACK BY TRACK
1. The Roots
Living In A New World
Ok, so I’ve set this playlist up conceptually. It moves from the cerebral and egotistical to letting go and enjoying the flow. This first song is off Game Theory, a grossly undervalued Roots album. This track is about the reality of being brutalised, ostracised and monitored, which is how any system enslaves minds.
2. Jordan Rakei
Talk to me
Lyrically, we remain in cerebral mode. To me this is a song about the mind’s power to close us off, separating ourselves from others: “you cannot compare yourself to me”. In the meantime we’re waiting for disaster to strike, even though for now we’re “riding high”. That’s anxiety…
I’ll just drop the quotables here – there are far too many in this one! “[If] you’re not gonna respect self, at least respect the heritage, affecting lives is where the wealth and the merit is.”
“Women cry, children laugh, men dance, I refuse to lose self, in trying to win fans over, the weight on my shoulders fluctuates like Oprah.” “My verse depth, is that of a baby’s first step, or the old lady who died and the nurse wept.”
4 . Asap Twelvy
This is produced by the fantastic Beat Butcha, a UK producer that worked out of Amsterdam for a bit, before bouncing to LA to do great work over there. I love how this has the texture of a classic boombap track with the feel and energy of now. We’re still in the cerebral part of the playlist, but the tone is optimistic and celebratory: “I’m on my way”.
Classic mental trappings in this one. It can take a long time to figure out what love actually looks like and until then you’re often dealing with power dynamics running through most of these romantic encounters. Uncertainty in the relationship on whichever end it find itself is a recipe for disaster, sooner or later.
6. Flying Lotus
This is a palette cleanser. You can never go wrong with some Flylo, to take your mind off things.
7. Ocean Wisdom & The Four Owls
One of my favorite Ocean Wisdom songs is ‘Revvin’ with Dizzee’, but that’s more about kicking someone’s ass, than being mindful or spiritual. This one is cocky, jazzy and about being smooth and icy which is what one becomes when you’re killing it or have meditated. Either way I figured it would fit this playlist.
8. Black Star
Thieves In The Night
This is probably one of the best songs ever written. It deals with the words we choose to describe people, to honestly convey how we’re socially meant to perceive that group. If you control language you control thought, George Carlin says. This song’s hook is based off a Toni Morrison quote that Yasiin and Talib flipped beautifully. It is one big quotable, so just listen!
Great tune. Great lyrics. Anderson Paak. Black Thought. What else do you need?
I think Black Messiah is an amazing album. It’s a Gospel album, as the title suggests, but the musical approach is such that you’re not listening to it like that. Thematically, the whole thing’s really about finding God, finding yourself, getting over the hill, and having faith – all typically spiritual themes. An incoherent prayer trying to pierce through a sluggish beat sonically conveys the work it takes to remain spiritual in a world focused on the material.
Asked about you
This one is super dope to me, it has everything the geek in me wants – real personal thoughts on how the world works and even a great summation as to the history that brought us to what conscious hip hop expresses.
12. Young Blood Brass Brand
Human Nature pt 2
Another palette cleanser! This is something you want to listen to in the morning as you’re getting ready for the day. This is the thematic breaking point of the playlist.
13. Saian Supa Crew
I’ve toured the hell out of Europe with these guys. This amazing group from Paris that disbanded around the same time I stepped out of Pete Philly & Perquisite are to this day the dopest live hip hop act I’ve seen perform anywhere on the planet. This track showcases the reasons why they MC and it’s righteous, it’s fun, the beat knocks. What more could you want?
14. Iman Omari
Aaaah here we go, full zen, I love the texture of this track, it’s about conjuring up good spirits, feeling the vibe and rolling with the right people as you’re being your higher most positive self.