Best of 2019 all genres

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I had this all ready to go and never published it.  Better late than never.

I’m not really sure why I’m making this list again this year, except it is a lot of fun for me, as weird as that sounds, and I get to listen to lots of great music with purpose.  I narrow down songs from thousands to hundreds, then to two hundred, then one hundred and finally fifty.  This task is not easy, and mostly involves a lot of feeling, like if one track hits harder, or gets stuck longer, but I also like to think that I apply some loosely made up rubric inside my own head.  Sorta like if you are a legend you get one more point, if you are making a statement another, etc etc. Aside from all that though, I get to listen to songs over and over and create a relationship with them like we used to do, remember that?  Listening to your new favorite songs over and over again, partially because you had to (the world wide web hadn’t been gifted to us yet, with it’s entire catalog of every song ever), but also because you wanted to, you were in love.  Of all things, most of all this years list is about love, I narrowed it down to the essential tracks of the year that I felt in love with.

So this is MY list.  Of course the biggest (and admittedly best) songs of the year were Billie Eilish’s Bad Guy, Lizzo’s Truth Hurts and Lil Nas X’s Old Town Road, but they don’t belong here. This year’s list did have a flair for the quirky and country,… and made lots of room for baddies.

Thanks for playing, come again.

50. Cactus Blossoms-Got a Lotta Love

49. Fruit Bats-The Bottom of It

48. Big Thief-UFOF

47. Steve Moon-New Moon

46. Doug Tuttle-I’ll Throw It All Away

45. Grace Ives-Mirror

44. Walker Lukens-Baby

43. Boz Metzdorf-Sails Across the Sea

42.Danny Brown-Best Life

41. Flying Lotus-Black Balloons Reprise

40. Vincent Neil Emerson-25 & Wastin’ Time

39. Cass McCombs-Confidence Man

I can only assume this song is about tRump.  Nevertheless I love the laid back groove and hushed, almost secretive, poetic lyrics.

38. Marc Lanegan-Playing Nero

37. Dope Lemon-Salt and Pepper

36.Bill Callahan-If You Could Touch Her At All

35. Local Natives-When Am I Gonna Lose You

34. Karl Blau-Twilight

33. Night Beats-(Am I) Just Wasting Time

32. Cut Worms-How It Can Be

31. Brockhampton-Boy BYE

Also one of the most amusing video’s of the year.

30. Injury Reserve-Jailbreak the Tesla

29. Bon Iver-Hey MA

28. People Under the Stairs-Hard

27. Jim James, Teddy Abrams and the Louisville Orchestra-Back to the End of the World

26. Cate le Bon-Home to You

25. Tyler the Creator-New Magic Wand

24. Mac Demarco-On the Square

23. Kindness-Hard To Believe

22. Whitney-Giving Up

21. Lyrics Born and Cutso-Hit Number One

20. Izzy Bizu-Lights On

19. Beast Coast-It Ain’t Easy

18. Nubian Twist-Jungle Run

17. Sam Cohen-I Can’t Lose

16. Big K.R.I.T.-Energy

15. Wyclef-Baba

14. Steve Lacy-Playground

13. Brittany Howard-Stay High

12. Gang Starr-Bad Name

11. Sudan Archives-Confessions

10. Richard Hawley-My Little Treasures

9. Drug Dealer-Fools

8. Jamila Woods-BETTY

7. Andrew Bird-Bloodless

6. James Blake-Mile High

5. Nas-Jarreau of Rap (Skatt Attack)

4. Foxygen-Face the Facts

3. Purple Mountains-Snow is Falling in Manhattan

2. Madlib & Freddie Gibbs-Crime Pays

1. Emily King-Teach You

There is just something so special about this song.  I don’t know if it’s the mandolin casually skipping in after the verse or just the overall feel, that is entirely contemporary yet completely timeless.  Such a lovely and vibrant song, so full of life and love, and that is why it’s my favorite of the year.  It just stuck with me til the end.

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New Again

Gil Scott-Heron-We’re New Again: A Reimagining by Makaya McCraven


1. Special Tribute (Broken Home pt. 1) (0:42)
2. I’m New Here (4:13)
3. Running (2:04)
4. Blessed Parents (1:09)
5. New York is Killing Me (5:19)
6. The Patch (Broken Home pt. 2) (1:16)
7. People of the Light (2:54)
8. Being Blessed (0:14)
9. Where Did the Night Go (2:37)
10. Lily Scott (Broken Home pt.3) (1:05)
11. I’ll Take Care of You (3:25)
12. I’ve Been Me (0:36)
13. This Can’t Be Real (1:30)
14. Piano Player (0:36)
15. The Crutch (2:34)
16. Guided (Broken Home pt.4) (1:57)
17. Certain Bad Things (0:13)
18. Me and the Devil (4:48)

To mark the tenth anniversary of the release of I’m New Here, the thirteenth – and last – studio album from the legendary US musician, poet and author Gil Scott-Heron, XL Recordings released a unique reinterpretation of the album by acclaimed US jazz musician Makaya McCraven. Titled We’re New Again, the album was released on 7th February 2020; exactly a decade after the release of Scott-Heron’s original Richard Russell-produced recording. It follows in the footsteps of Jamie xx’s highly acclaimed 2011 remix album We’re New Here and will be McCraven’s first release of 2020, following the huge global acclaim heaped upon his 2018 album Universal Beings. One of the most vital new voices in modern jazz, McCraven is described by the New York Times as a “Chicago-based drummer, producer and beat maker, [who] has quietly become one of the best arguments for jazz’s vitality”

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Best Soul/Funk Albums 2019

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The Top 25 new soul/funk albums countdown as heard live on Soul Donuts Radio!

25.  C.S. Armstrong-Truth Be Told

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Hip hop and R&B influences crusted over with street filth and hiding some deep down soul.

24. The New Mastersounds-Shake It

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The addition of singing sensation Lamar Williams Jr. really adds to the groups already tight sound, rooted in jazz and featuring the organ this group is always creating new slick styles to work with.

23. The Bamboos-By Special Arrangement

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String arrangements of some of their greatest hits, a really special album.

22. Tanika Charles-The Gumption

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Light hearted and artfully crafted soul tracks that take Motown as their cue.

21. The Mighty Mocambos-2066

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Instrumental funk maestros still have an axe to grind.

20. Sault-5 & 7

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Featuring production by Inflo, this new group released two great albums in 2019, both of them featuring funky hooks and thought provoking lyrics.

19. Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed-99 Cent Dreams

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The retro soul revivalist at his very best, with straight forward vintage soul cuts and fantastic guest appearances.

18. Lydia Persaud-Let Me Show You

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Sumptuous and soulful R&B that simultaneously carries weight but can feel light and airy, a true mystery and mastery of the sound.

17. Eric Boss-A Modern Love

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A confident take on retro soul featuring horns, back up singers and gritty funk.

16. The Limboos-Baia

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An eclectic collection of rhythm driven Afro-Cuban, Latin-funk, soul, blues, mambo, salsa, and the list goes on and on…

15. Brittany Howard-Jaime

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The lead singer of the Alabama Shakes steps out to show the world she can be dynamic and fresh on her own.

14. Bobby Oroza-This LoveImage result for bobby oroza"

Powerful messages from the heart in the perfect style of soul.

13. Nick Waterhouse-Nick Waterhouse

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The authentic rhythm and blues and classic sounds of Nick Waterhouse on display yet again here.  He is one of our consistently favorite artists in the revival movement.

12. Marc Cohn and Blind Boys of Alabama-Work To Do

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A match made in heaven.

11. Michael Kiwanuka-Kiwanuka

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With clear socially conscious intentions in mind, Kiwanuka sounds like an honest re-imagining of Marvin Gaye’s classic eco-soul albums.

10. Smuggler Brothers-Musione


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Showcasing a large range of different funk stylings; jumping off in Italy and traveling around the globe.

9. Shawn Lee-Rides Again

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Veterans always know how to craft meaningful albums, as this album see’s Mr. Shawn Lee employing country, yacht rock, and Americana into his funk and soul landscape.

8. Carlton Jumel Smith-1634 Lexington Ave

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Genuine soul from this new-comer.

7. The Dip-Delivers

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Classic soul and doo-wop written, recorded, and performed to perfection.

6. Black Pumas-Black Pumas

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Hard hitting funk n soul.  Like a lost album from the early to middle 70’s era, conjuring gritty streetwise activists stomping through the ghetto.

5. Kelly Finnigan-The Tales People Tell

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The lead singer of the Monophonics mixes authentic sounding soul numbers, with a touch of R&B.

4. P.P. Arnold-The New Adventures of…

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Stunning return of a soul legend.  Produced by Paul Weller and Ocean Colour Scene guitarist Steve Cradock, this album updates the sound of classic oldies, easy listening, and soul for new audiences and old alike.  These songs would feel equally at home amongst Burt Bacharach and Dionne Warwick’s most iconic albums.

3. Durand Jones and the Indications-American Love Call

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The actual trials and tribulations of life are what shaped and molded the strength behind this soulful sophomore album.  A little bit slower vibe and a more serious agenda punctuate the deeply funky grooves and tight rhythms.

2. Yola-Walk Through Fire

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Combining a breezy, easy listening sound with folksy soul and Americana, Easy Eye Sound Recording Studio has done it again, and delivered us one of the best albums of the year.

1. Lee Fields and the Expressions-It Rains Love

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The consummate professional and soul veteran combines with his off the charts talented band to hit us with slick soul and funk productions that typify the revival sound.  Just another smash hit album for the Lee Fields and the boys, ya know…another day at work.

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Best of Soul Donuts 2019: singles

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I stole that banner from BandCamp.  I took it from their Best Soul Albums of 2019 blog post.  Mine were better. Ya dig?

Here we are again…Soul Donuts radio turned 12 years old and we keep rollin’ on.  Due to the chaotic nature of my life right now, and the steadily mounting tasks threatening to bury me alive, I’m not going to do a lot of writing about each track this year.  I leave that up to you dear listener to approach each new track with fresh ears, but fear not, for those of you who enjoy my linguistic prowess I’ll be back behind the writers desk in no time. The upside to this is I upped the ante and expanded my list to 50! This year was the most abundant year yet in the world of new Soul and Funk and I had enough material to review that included a top 50 tracks.  My master list over on Spotify contains a whopping 300+ songs in total.  In years past I would review 200 qualified candidates max.  What this says about the global expansion of new Soul and Funk is phenomenally optimistic!

One thing to celebrate is the enormous diversity of people participating in this movement with this year’s list featuring a push from LatinX talent.  Joey Quinones and Thee Sinseers, Bobby Oroza (we’ll get to him in the albums post), Quantic, and Nicole Willis w/ Banda Palomita highlight the list.  This year’s list also predictably features some legends hard at work, and a lot of new comers who have thrown their hat in the ring.  The list also features some notable hip hop influence in the likes of Anderson .Paak and Free Nationals, Georgia Anne Muldrow, The Grand Scheme, and Ben L’Oncle Soul.  Without further ado let the music shine.

50. Soul Motivators-Modern Superwoman

A screamer…

49. Jason Joshua and the Beholders-Evangeline

Cadillac DeVille vibes.

48. Josh Hoyer and Soul Colossal-The Night

Do I hear a touch of gospel?

47. The Eminent Stars-Mrs. Phillips

Heavy hitting instrumental saturated with organ.

46. Alex Opal-Telling You Lies

Modern take on the pop of Motown.

45. Carlton Jumel Smith-Ain’t That Love

Achingly soulful and talented, w/ the new allstars Cold Diamond and Mink offering support.

Since I couldn’t find a video of the original full song I posted the mp3 for ya below…

Carlton Jumel Smith-Ain’t That Love

44. Sugaray Rayford-The Revelator

The bluesman get serious…seriously funky.

43. Orgone-Suma Juice

Up-beat funk with pure passion.

42. Raphael Saadiq-Something Keeps Calling

R&B legend gives us something that just keeps callin’ us back, w/ jazzy, soulful energy.

41. Dojo Cuts-Rome

Leaves you in ruins. Solid!

40. Ben L’Oncle Soul-I Don’t Wanna Go

A lil bit of hip hop and R&B sneaks it’s way on stage w/ this noted French soulman.

39. Free Nationals-Eternal Light

Better known as Anderson .Paak’s backing band, w/ all the skills.

38. The Grand Scheme-The Scheme Theme

New pioneers of Soul-Jazz and Funk at times featuring Aloe Blacc.

37. Lady Wray-Come On In

Southern diva excels.

36. Nicole Willis w/ Banda Palomita-Reparate

A slice of 80s soul and funk-pop rearranged perfectly.

35. Georgia Anne Muldrow-Always

THE Queen of funk bass intertwines her instrumental funk with hip-hop influences.

34. The Limboos-Big Shot

Raucous 50s style rhythm and blues gets feisty.

33. Golden Dawn Arkestra-Blood of Royalty

A hint of afrobeat and well crafted funk.

32. Lydia Persaud-Honey Child

OOzing w/ talent and floating over a 70s summery feeling.

31. Quantic feat. Alice Russell-Now or Never

Two legends in the new soul game reunite!

Here is the full album stream, and I dropped the single below.

30. Holy Hive-Oh I Miss Her So

Classic soul and doo-wop influences.

29. Laneous-Hold My Hand

Pop and soul together.

28. Night People-I Can’t Keep Crying

I noticed the file is named Night Moves, buuuuut it’s not, it’s Night People, and it’s a satisfying bit of funk.

27. Nick Waterhouse-Wreck the Rod

This young man traffics in the stylish sounds of classic rhythm and blues.

26. Michael Kiwanuka-You Ain’t the Problem

Social commentary in the realm of the folksy stylings of mid-career Marvin Gaye.

25. Anderson .Paak-Make it Better

Modern superhero Anderson .Paak employs the legendary vocals of Smokey, what can you say but THANKS!

24. The Lewis Express-Clap Your Hands

Boogaloo and jazz make friends on this soulful instrumental.

23. Benny Sings-Not Enough

Smooth yacht rock meets a swinging uptown funk.

22. Devon Gilfillian-Get Out and Get It

Hard hitting funk and R&B mix together in an inventive way.

21. Neal Frances-Changes

New comer captures that smooth and funky 70s vibe, also featuring a jaunty little reggae breakdown.

20. Dent May- Why I Came to California

Hazy pop and soul crash on the beach after a few too many.

19. Menahan St. Band-There’s a New Day Coming

Elder statesmen and master of modern soul find new ground to work from in the wake of Charles Bradley’s death.

18. Ghost Funk Orchestra-Modern Scene

Undoubtedly the funkiest track you will hear all year, dark and bass heavy.

17. The Natural Yoghurt Band-Colours

A laid back groove featuring the vibes and heavy duty clavinet.

16. Brainstory-Dead End

Similar to the Sha La Da’s from last years list, these guys drop the crafty vocal harmonies here.

15. Thee Sinseers-I Don’t Mind

With lead singer Joey Quinones at the helm Thee Sinseers channel 60s lowrider soul and doo-wop.

14. The Dip-Adeline

Heartfelt authentic 60s soul from this abundantly talented group.

…bonus live version!

Maaaan, that boy can sing!

13. Surprise Chef-Where’s The Cream?

A side to the first of 2 7″ singles to have both sides featured on our list.  Instrumental funk and hip hop in the vein of El Michels Affair featuring the organ.

12. Karate Boogaloo-Do You Even Know What a Passport Is?

Pulsing and dark heavy instrumental funk and hip hop continues on side B featuring more guitar on this one.

11. Paul and the Tall Trees-Beware

This is one of my overall favorite tracks of the entire year in any genre! A strange, and addictive song that has enough soul to to put it at number 11 on this list of the best of soul but could top any all around list for best tracks of the year.

10. Joey Quinones-Don’t Tell Me

A powerful new voice in Soul emerges!

9. Alexis Evans-I’ve Come a Long Way

With everything perfectly in place this buttoned up Soul is just right.

8. Shawn Lee-Crystal Springs

Multi-instrument master of many styles rides again. Another one of my favorite tracks of the year!  There’s just something about the way that the twangy, soulful, funky and smooth vibes coalesce to make my memories drift and my emotions swirl.

7. Yola-Faraway Look

Not even my favorite song on this album…(we’ll get to that later) this track is the most Soul Donuts on the album, though.  A classic folksy soul with all the fixin’s that sounds straight out of the 60s.  Produced by Dan Auerbach and his stable of consummate professionals over at Easy Eye Sound, not only did they craft one of the most exquisite soul tracks of the year in Faraway Look but they also crafted one of the year’s best albums bar none.

6. The 100 Knights Orchestra-Soul Fugue

Daptone celebrates the release of its 100th single.  This is the second 7″ single to have both sides featured here on our list. Big band soul and jazz in a bold cinematic style. The Orchestra’s “Soul Fugue” features EVERY HORN PLAYER THE LABEL HAS EVER WORKED WITH. That means members of The Dap-Kings, Antibalas, The Budos Band, Menahan Street Band, The Extraordinaires, The Soul Providers, and The Daktaris

5. Family Daptone-Hey Brother

Sounding like a lost Willie DeVaughn song featuring all of our favorite retro-soul people alive or dead over at Daptone.  The message is love, the mood is haunting, and the style is unmatched.

4. Durand Jones and the Indications-Don’t You Know

Undisputed rising star in the new soul genre with his sophomore album.  Gritty old-school soul with a new sense of purpose.

3. Lee Fields and the Expressions-A Promise is a Promise

Smart and sexy as always, Lee Fields is a true professional and legend.  I could’ve easily chosen any of the tracks on his new album but for some reason this one stood out with its

2. Swamp Dogg-Sleeping Without You is a Dragg

The OG D O double G is back again with a new track in advance of his album set to be released in 2020.  This track features the likes of Justin Vernon and Jenny Lewis and showcases Swamp Dogg’s signature style of perfectly blending together southern soul and country swagger.

1.P.P. Arnold-Baby Blue

This song is perfect from the vocals to the way the lyrics hit and the timeless 60s production.  A pure gem of a track.

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Darkness Falls on the Edge of Time

A really solid new album of afrobeat, funk, and soul instrumentals and more.  Grab a copy and some merch. here, and enjoy the massive sounds of Blood of Royalty from the album below.

Golden Dawn Arkestra-Blood of Royalty

This from the record label: “Golden Dawn Arkestra hails from a small planet in the constellation Cygnus, light-years away in the outermost reaches of the galaxy. The Arkestra conducts experiments involving space and time travel through the use of sound and movement. Their followers delight in these rituals; all bear witnesses to their higher selves and joyously bask in the eternal light that joins us all as one.

Armed with unique instrumentation that includes, horns, percussion, synthesizers and vibraphone, Golden Dawn Arkestra combines deep grooves with cinematic textures. The theatrical visuals of The Arkestra are enriched further by appearances from various dancers who, like the musicians, are adorned in shimmering garments reminiscent of intergalactic kingdoms of yore. Inspired to exuberance by ritualistic practices such as processions, chanting, and the power of the music itself, the audience falls into spellbound frenzies.”

01. Golden Dawn Arkestra – The End Is the Beginning (1:13)
02. Golden Dawn Arkestra – Mama Se (3:40)
03. Golden Dawn Arkestra – Allo Allo Boom (3:20)
04. Golden Dawn Arkestra – Showdown (3:15)
05. Golden Dawn Arkestra – Darkness Falls (5:09)
06. Golden Dawn Arkestra – Blood of Royalty (5:59)
07. Golden Dawn Arkestra – Hamza (4:48)
08. Golden Dawn Arkestra – Vetiver (4:19)
09. Golden Dawn Arkestra – The Beginning Is Ending (1:32)

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As 2019 AKA Tru Thought’s 20th birthday year draws to a close, ‘Tru Thoughts 2019’ is the latest edition of their annual compilation series. Curated by A&R, co-owner and DJ – Robert Luis, the digital album celebrates the best of the wide-ranging and international releases from the year, featuring the finest of Tru Thoughts’ classic artists, new signings and inspired remixes. This compilation highlights a diverse selection of sounds, from neo-soul and electronica through to grime, jazz, UK hip-hop and leftfield dance music.

“It is always good to look back on the year of releases on Tru Thoughts. This compilation has a track from each release this year and features some of the more established artists alongside the new signings, highlighting the eclectic nature of the label and our commitment to creative artists across the world.” Robert Luis (Tru Thoughts A&R and co-owner).

02. Moonchild – Get to Know It (3:46)
03. Ego Ella May – How Far (3:06)
04. Terror Danjah – Wavy (3:13)
05. Quantic – You Used to Love Me (feat. Denitia) (6:18)
01. Rhi – Swagger (3:02)
06. Sefi Zisling – Happy Solar Return (feat. Kutiman) (9:08)
07. Pieces Of A Man – Listen (3:36)
08. Bryony Jarman-Pinto – Sun Kissed (4:19)
09. Hot 8 Brass Band – On the Spot (Animanz Remix) (4:23)
10. Nikitch, Kuna Maze – Zbra (4:34)
11. Strategy – Trinity Way (feat. Reece Williams) (4:54)
12. zero dB – Party Girl (7:36)
13. Lightning Head – Superfunky Bird (4:05)
14. WheelUP – Self Healing Machine (3:03)
15. Anchorsong – Ancestors (Souleance Remix) (4:00)
16. The Seshen – Dive (3:40)
17. Rodney P – The Next Chapter (Radio Edit) (2:54)
18. Gawd Status – Uranium (3:17)
19. Flowdan – Welcome to London (Radio Edit) (3:57)
20. Irah, Abstrakt Sonance – Duppy Show (Radio Edit) (3:48)
21. Wrongtom, The Ragga Twins – Woah! (Shop Soiled Dub) (3:44)
22. Animanz, Juanita Euka – Drink the Water (Dub) (3:57)
23. Uniting Of Opposites – Ancient Lights (Tim Liken Remix Instrumental) (3:34)
24. KingDem – The Conversation (We Ain’t Done Yet) [feat. Rodney P, Blak Twang, Ty] (Radio Edit) (3:37)

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Stuff I missed: the Muro Edition

Let this be your introduction to Muro if you haven’t heard of him before.

Takayoshi Murota, better known as Muro, is well known for his crate digging of old records in order to (re)create new ones. Also known for having released many mixtapes on various formats, using sections and breaks from funk, soul, disco, and many other sounds.

When DJing live, Muro also is known for often doing 7″/45-only DJ sets, playing anything and everything; from disco to boogie to funk to soul.

VA - Muro - Diggin' Heat 2015 - 30 Years And Still Counting (2015)

Be on the lookout for any number of his compilations from Diggin’ Heat Winter Flavor, matter of fact all the Diggin’ Heats, Diggin’ Ice, Best of Tropicoool Boogie, Synthetic Boogie, and more.

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