DJ Spinna’s Moving 90-Minute Mix Teaches Black History, In Audio

DJ Spinna is well known for his massive record collection, varied musical tastes, and extensive mixes. This Brooklynite has refused to be pigeon-holed and has created essential mixtapes and compilations that focus on a wide variety of genres including Hip-Hop, Soul, Funk, Deep House, Jazz, Post-Disco, R&B, and more. He has dropped must-have mixes with cult labels like Rawkus, Up Above, Redefinition, Female Fun and, of course, his second home, Britain’s BBE Records.

How deep are this music connoisseur’s crates? Well, in 2016 he released the third volume of his tribute series to Stevie Wonder, The Wonder of Stevie. That’s 35 Stevie covers, and most of them are obscure. His dedication to the art of digging makes him more than just a DJ. He is an archivist and arguably, a historian. Thus, Spinna is the perfect candidate to do a mix that covers all eras of Black protest music.

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Soul Science Lab is the duo of creative director Chen Lo and musical director Asanté Amin, who has produced a “live musical documentary” titled Soundtrack ’63 that is currently playing at The Apollo Theater. This multimedia performance consists of a video installation showing archival footage of the Civil Rights movement, which is scored by an 18-piece orchestra and vocal ensemble.

Per the website, the point is to illustrate how the fight for equality continues to be “two steps forward, one step back” for African-Americans, and how conscious music is needed now more than ever. So, to further push their project and message, they commissioned DJ Spinna to do a companion mix that includes the music that inspired the creation of Soundtrack ’63. And when Spinna is handed an assignment like that, he turns in an hour and a half mix that includes everything from Civil Rights spirituals to dead prez to Kendrick Lamar. Check out the continuous mix (available in both standard and edited versions) below. For Heads to follow along, AFH made the tracklist:

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1. Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around (Civil Rights spiritual)
2. Billie Holiday – Strange Fruit
3. Harry Belafonte – Oh Freedom
4. Rahsaan Roland Kirk – Volunteered Slavery
5. Michael Kiwanuka – Black Man In A White World
6. Nina Simone – Young, Gifted and Black
7. The Last Poets – When The Revolution Comes
8. Gil Scott Heron – The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
9. Nikki Giovanni – Ego-Tripping (uptempo version)
10. Anthony Hamilton & The Blind Boys of Alabama – May Be My Last Time
11. John Legend f/ Common – Glory
12. Run-D.M.C. – Proud To Be Black
13. T.I. – Warzone
14. dead prez – Police State
15. Black Star – K.O.S. (Determination)
16. Pointer Sisters – Yes We Can Can
17. A Tribe Called Quest – We The People…
18. Arrested Development – Revolution
19. N.W.A. – F*ck Tha Police
20. Joey Bada$$ – AmeriKKKan Idol
21. Marvin Gaye – What’s Happening Brother
22. Chi-Lites – Give More Power To The People
23. The Impressions – We’re A Winner
24. X-Clan – Tribal Jam
25. Public Enemy – Fight The Power
26. Sly & The Family Stone – Stand!
27. Jimi Hendrix – Freedom
28. James Brown – I’m Black And I’m Proud
29. Jungle Brothers – Acknowledge Your Own History
30. Kendrick Lamar – Alright
31. The Voices of East Harlem – Right On Be Free
32. The Isley Brothers – Fight The Power
33. Donny Hathaway – Someday We’ll All Be Free

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Spotted at Grand Good.