(Editor’s intro: I first met Lauren Onkey at the EMP Pop Conference where she gave this incredible paper on Black bands in Liverpool and all I could think was, “ok, I need to meet this person.” Since then, I’ve come to value both her knowledge and passion and I’m glad that someone as capable as she is working at the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame. I was overdue in getting her to write a summer song post for us but here she is, talking about that “Sweet Sticky Thing.” –O.W.)

The Ohio Players: Sweet Sticky Thing
From Honey (Mercury, 1975)

Since 1975, when I first bought the single, I dig “Sweet Sticky Thing” out every summer. It’s the heat, and the memory, and the fantasy, and the sex. Summer songs for me are as much about my memory of summers past—or, truth be told, my fantasies of those summers—than soundtracks of whatever life I might actually be living. Honey was part of the soundtrack of 7th grade, when parents were freaking out over busing and integration, and the kids were trying to avoid the crossfire and figure out how to live together, through music as much as anything else—could Brass Construction, Earth, Wind, & Fire and The Brothers Johnson coexist with Aerosmith and Peter Frampton? Seems like we could all get into “Love Rollercoaster”—must have been the hormones. (Hey, come to think of it, The Brothers Johnson’s “I’ll Be Good To You” is another summer soundtrack song).

At first, “Sweet Sticky Thing” isn’t the flat out funk you expect from the Ohio Players, like “Fopp” or “Fire.” Leroy “Sugar” Bonner’s jazzy guitar intro and the synth strings set up what sounds like a soulful, romantic girl-watching song, like “Just My Imagination” (well, after the wolf whistle). Clarence Satchell’s sax starts out smooth, too, and then Bonner and the other horns lay down a funky groove, and Satchell goes a little nuts. The woman, “leaving her honey everywhere,” is driving them all to distraction. And it grooves along that way for 6 minutes, hot and smooth, and a little dangerous. It’s hot out, and everybody’s wearing as little as possible, the heat’s shimmering off the asphalt and that honey’s starting to stick. You don’t know what’s going to happen, and you’re not even sure you know what you want, but you’re just drawn to that honey. The guitar, sax and horn workout for the last minute of the song could be the soundtrack to sex, or a fight, or a threat—or an attack on the woman, for that matter. Depends on your summer. –Lauren Onkey


Ghostface Killah feat. Raekwon, RZA and Slick Rick: The Sun
Deleted from Bulletproof Wallets (Epic, 200*)

(Editor’s note: Ever since he worked at the original Sound LIbrary in the East Village, Jared Boxx has become one of the city’s favorite merchants of grooves, as celebrated for his record knowledge as he is for a disposition a gazillion times sunnier than what you’ll find at some other boutiques. Outside of his new store – Big City – Boxx stays busy as part of the Bump Shop crew, guesting on radio and dropping his own killer soul mixes. For his summer song post, Jared went with one of my all-time favorite Wu-related rarities. –O.W.)

Thanks O-Dub for the invitation

to shine a light on my favorite summer jam.
Not an easy task, but grab some cold funky lemonade and let’s’s summertime.
All versions of George Gershwin’s masterpiece “Summertime” would do just fine.
Hard not to not choose, Sly Stone’s “Hot Fun In the Summertime”
or Quincy Jones & Valerie Simpson’s amazing rendition of “Summer in the City”
Kool & the Gang’s “Summer Madness”
has to be on the list, perfect song for any long hot summer night
I recently imagined what it must have been like to hear
“Everybody Loves the Sunshine” by Roy Ayers for the first time, in the summer of 1976,
or having in the tape deck Zapp & Roger’s “Computer Love” in that summer of ’85
Public Enemy’s “Fear of a Black Planet” changed my life in the summer of 1990.
and Spike Lee presenting new possibilities with ice cubes in “Do the Right Thing”
Hard to imagine the summer of ’91 without DJ Jazzy Jeff’s & the Fresh Prince’s “Summertime”
or ’92 without Organized Konfusion’s “Walk Into The Sun”
95′s anthem “How High” by Redman & Method Man, is also a top contender
I stumbled across “Ballin” by Above the Law from their “Livin Like Hustlers” L.P. recently,
and also deserves a honorable mention.
but Soul-sides followers for me, the winner has to be…
“The Sun” by Ghostface feat. Raekwon, Slick Rick & the Rza,
reminding us of who is really behind all this summer fun
The Sun


Naughty by Nature: Jamboree
From 19 Naughty Nine: Nature’s Fury (Arista, 1999)

(Editor’s Intro: DJ Cosmo Baker is one of the core members of the DJ collective, The Rub, and he’s a master in the mix, whether hip-hop, funk, or electronic. I’ve been chasing after him for a summer songs post for years and Cos didn’t disappoint with his ode to “Jamboree.” As you’ll note, this post is running on his born day so happy b-day Cos! –O.W.)

    When I was asked to write about one “definitive” summer song I had to give some thought about what direction I wanted to go in. You see, to me there’s two types of summer energies and they effect me in different ways, and they both have a particular “sound” to them. I think of late summer when the days are hot, and long, and you can see the heat radiating off of the asphalt, making you want to reach out and try to touch the waves bouncing back up to the sun. Time seems to move slow on these summer days and there’s a feeling of tranquility, but also a strange ominous feeling from these days as well. But that’s not the shit that I’m on right now, because there’s also the festive, “school’s out so fire up the BBQ and open up the hydrants because we’re partying in the streets all day and night” summer vibe. And today that’s exactly where my head is at. Two different energies, two different summers, two different sounds. Dig me? Okay, so let’s continue.

    I make no apologies about my sincere love for Naughty By Nature but it’s something that a lot of my friends love to try and clown me for. To me Naughty has always been one of the most “complete” rap groups of my time. Treach is one of the finest rappers and lyricists to have ever blessed the mic and still to this day he so often gets overlooked when the “GOAT” conversations come up that it’s a shame. Kay Gee on the beats always brought the heat and in my opinion was the key component to Naughty’s success. I think the sound signature that he crafted allowed them to live both in the hardcore and pop worlds of rap comfortable, without compromising the credibility in either end of the spectrum. And Vinny, well.. let’s just say that Vinny was integral so that Treach could take a breather every once in a while.

    When Naughty dropped the dubiously titled Nineteen Naughty Nine: Nature’s Fury back in (of course) 1999 they had fallen off the radar of a lot of rap fans and pop-music consumers alike. With the mid to late 90s see-saw that was the takeoff of “jiggy” rap to the backpack backlash to the new rise of New York with Jay-Z, Ruff Ryders et al – and Dirty Jersey’s finest party-rocking crew wasn’t really that relevant anymore. But leave it up to Kay Gee and Co to concoct a recipe for a summer jam that would usher the group into the 21st century. The song is based mainly around a sample of Bennie Golson’s “I’m Always Dancing To The Music” which just sounds like a carnival. And so why not film the video at an actual carnival, complete with bikini clad ladies and super soakers. Now I don’t know about you but that just screams “summer” to me. To the song Kay Gee added some real groovy synths underneath the beat and enlisted long time collaborators Zhané to sing the hook. Couple that with Treach bringing his A-Game on some party rocking rapping, and you have a major win. The public thought so too, making “Jamboree” Naughty’s 4th gold record, helping put the crew (briefly) back on top.

    The summer of 1999 was pretty great for me. I spent the summer rolling around the city of Philly maxing in the parks during the day and balling out with friends at night. I had spend most part of the previous year in the hospital so ’99 was an awaking of sorts. I was a free man, was making great money, had great friends, and had limited real-life responsibility. Plus I met my now wife that year, so the whole summer was full of massive amounts of win. It was like the whole summer was a celebration. So at the very hight of the summer, when one night at my weekly party a rep for Arista came up in the club and handed me doubles of Naughty’s new 12″, I put the record on almost immediately and my party was propelled to the next level – forever linking this song in my mind with good times and celebrations during the summertime. I played it again on my birthday party and ever since then, every year on my birthday (July 9th) it’s one of my few “must hear” songs. I’ll always rock it on the born day, or have whatever guest DJ is rocking for me play it. It’s my own personal “summertime party anthem.” And so, when people might look at me funny when they see my reaction to this joint, I don’t really need to explain myself. Life is good, and “Jamboree” reminds me of that specific time for me that life really started to get good again. So let’s jam…

(The accompanying image – used, um, sans permission – is by Zoe Strauss, an accomplished Philly photographer who also happens to be Cosmo’s sister).


Leo’s Sunshipp: Give Me the Sunshine
From We Need Each Other (Lyons, 1978)

(Editor’s Intro: Jamie Strong is one of the main staffers at Stones Throw Records but in L.A., he’s probably even better known for running THE summer party series, here in the city: The Do-Over. Held every Sunday during the summer, the Do-Over has drawn the best DJs and crowds for a party that begins in the afternoon and grooves into the night. He seemed like an obvious person to ask for a summer song contribution and here he is, appropriately enough, asking for some more sunshine. –O.W.)

    Over the course of my life there have been certain songs, artists & sounds that have been synonmous with summer. However, summer for me these past six years has been consumed by my Do-Over party ( and no song better suits my summertime vibe than Leo’s Sunship ‘Give Me The Sunshine’. I think I first dusted off this record a few years back when I awoke to an overcast cloudy Southern California day. I can’t remember the special guests we had lined up that day, but I remember them being special and did not want it to rain so I was hoping to deter the rain gods w/ this song. Lo & behold, I dropped this record on the early side of things with our host Aloe Blacc singing along and by end of the song, the man from above gave us the sunshine which lasted throughout the day. So this has not only become my good luck charm record to thwart off the rain, but is also such a good time jam that one cannot help but smile and get into the groove.


(Editor’s Intro: Months back, myself, Musica Del Alma’s Slim Jenkins and Super Sonido’s Sonido Franko had batted around the idea of contributing to a group blog on Latin music. That still has yet to materialize (we’re all too damn busy!) but I was able to corral the three of us together for a group summer song post. Bajar con nosotros! –O.W.)

From Slim Jenkins:

    Conjunto Cacique: Playing
    From Afro Rock (Supremo/Fonobosa, 1977)

    Here’s a tune you won’t hear anywhere else, and apologies up front for the obscurity of my selection. Many folks out there would elect to return to the classics to create their summertime soundscapes, and believe me, there’s nothing wrong with that at all. There’s something comforting about those familiar jams from yesteryear, but there comes a time when that stable ground of familiarity must be left behind in search of more. Having the time to explore and forge new ground is one of the beautiful things about summer, and something I try to make the most of every year.

    Take the mysterious Conjunto Cacique, for example. They released music in Mexico, Colombia, and Peru (and surely elsewhere in Latin America), but their true nationality remains a mystery for many folks in the know. Just as their origin can’t be easily tied down to one country alone, the track “Playing” from their Afro Rock LP jumps between musical styles like a child at play. From Latin rock to Montuno and back again, the track illustrates how a perfect summer day should play out: unpredictable yet fruitful, spontaneous and fun.

From Sonido Franko:

    Lisandro Meza: Juventud Flaca Y Loca
    From En Nueva York (Fuentes, 197x)

    O-Dub asked me 3 weeks ago if I could select a quintessential summer jam. Since then I’ve been stuck thinking about Kool & The Gang’s “Summer Madness”. If I have to ponder on a summer jam, my mind instantly goes in that direction. But at least I didn’t have “Celebration” stuck in my brain. Thank God!

    Instead I opted for something that has been receiving heavy rotation lately and a song that I will probably be playing in my dj sets all summer long. Lisandro Meza’s Juventud Flaca Y Loca is my choice.

    From the big band cumbia sound of Los Corraleros de Majagual to his refined solo career, accordionist Lisandro Meza was pretty much the driving force behind the evolution of the Cumbia Colombiana. But it’s really Meza’s experimentation with other genres that keeps me heavily interested. The album, En Nueva York, indicates that the song is a Salsa number, but it is a far cry from Willie Colon’s “wall of trombone” sound of that era. It escapes the New York Fania sound we identify with. Either way, I really love what’s going on. Especially with the use of an electric guitar, it sounds more like an afro-funk track than anything else. And like I’ve said a million times in my audioblog, I love these hybrid musical genres. El Rey Sabanero is at his best when he breaks out of his traditional vallenato/cumbia mould. Both a quintessential “summer jam” and “me jam” I suppose.

    Anyway, I hope you like the song and I want to wish everyone a great, safe summer. A young, skinny and crazy girl.….who doesn’t want that? Enjoy!

From O-Dub:

    The Latin Brothers: Dulzura En Sol
    From Buscandote (Fuentes, 197x)

    I thought about going with this smoky, Hector Rivera tumbao cut but in honor of the great South American selections above, I decided to keep it in continent with one of my all-time favorite Fuentes jams – “Dulzura En Sol” (sweetness in the sun) which seemed quite apropos for the season. This song was a ¡Boogaloo! classic at my defunct weekly and it really does remind me of the warm summer nights Will and I would spin during – the excitement and energy of this cumbia-cum-salsa cut is some top-of-the-night, blow-the-roof-off-the-house type heat.


Scott Down and DJ Cutler: Track 10 [“A Day in the Life”]
From Ultimate Breaks and Beatles (LO DO, 2009)

(Editor’s Intro: I first met Loren when he was an undergrad at UC Berkeley and he was already showed all the signs of being an extraordinary music scholar. In the time since, we’ve become good friends – not to mention co-enablers in culinary excess – and now he’s Dr. Loren Kajikawa, musicology professor at the U. of Oregon. He’s currently working on a scholarly book analyzing hip-hop – I’ve been enjoying his Dr. Dre chapter – and took some time out to pen this summer song musing about “A Day In the Life,” mash-up style. –O.W.)

    On 09/09/09—the same day The Beatles™: Rock Band™ and The Beatles Stereo Box Set went on sale—the upstate New York-based duo of Scott Down and DJ Cutler made their Ultimate Breaks and Beatles available for free download—not a bad deal considering the two official Beatles products threatened to set you back about $500. Down and Cultler’s unauthorized mix combined both original and cover versions of Beatles tunes with well-worn hip hop samples to yield just over an hour of continuous music. Since first listening to the album, something about it has resonated with me. Like millions of other kids, I grew up in an environment that included my baby boomer parents’ old vinyl and “golden era” hip hop. Today their old Beatles records, particularly Abbey Road, The White Album, and Sgt. Peppers’ evoke long summer days spent exploring music on my own through two main outlets: L.A.’s OG rap music station AM 1580 KDAY and my parents’ dusty LPs. Ultimate Breaks and Beatles seems bent on creatively re-imagining this soundscape. The result is a meditation on the Beatles’ legacy, and, with its emphasis on vintage breakbeats and rapping, the idea of “classic material” itself.

    The track I’m sharing for this post remixes the much-celebrated “A Day in the Life,” which one critic famously compared to T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land (itself an early example of literary “sampling”). Down and Cutler begin by splicing Lennon’s ethereal vocals into Les DeMerle’s haunting jazz cover of the same song. Hip hop heads will immediately recognize DeMerle’s cover as the backing track to O.C.’s “Time’s Up,” itself a song worthy of the highest compliments and comparisons. Indeed, the DJs also include numerous fragments from “Times Up,” calling our attention to the way one great song can beget another great song that begets yet another great song. During McCartney’s B-Section, Down and Cutler switch to the original Beatles track, but they add a significant twist: phat bass booms, syncopated drum fills, and scratching that enhance Ringo’s subdued playing gives us the familiar Beatles sound filtered through a hip hop lens. I can no longer listen to the original version of “A Day in the Life” without hearing these additions in my head. Perhaps I now prefer Down and Cutler’s hyperreal version of the Beatles.

    Last summer I left L.A. with my family to begin a new job in Eugene, Oregon, and Ultimate Breaks and Beatles’ was the perfect album to get me through the transition. Perhaps given my mental state, I was ready to indulge the nostalgia permeating so many of these samples. Yet returning to the album this summer has convinced me to hear the album as an important counter-narrative of the Beatles’ far-reaching influence. In place of the tightly controlled, scripted, and commodified legacy of the Fab Four, we’re treated to proof that the Beatles can still inspire grassroots creativity. Classic material wants to be free, even if The Beatles™ catalogue isn’t.


Martinho da Vila: Disritmia
From Canta canta, minha gente (RCA Victor, 1974)

(Editor’s Intro: DJ Rani D hosts the bi-weekly “Soul in the Park” party at Footsie’s in Cypress Park and I’ve had the distinct pleasure to DJ with him many times over the last couple of years; he’s one of the guys who turned me onto cumbia and his ability to switch genres in the middle of a heated mix is a skill all its own. For his summer song post, Rani D takes us back to a swinging hammock in Santa Teresa. –O.W.)

    I remember the first time I heard this song I was laying in a hammock in Santa Teresa, a hilly borough in northern Rio. On this summer afternoon, a local sambista (who would frequently loiter the hostel I was staying at) wanted to listen to the records I had recently acquired, so he brought his turntable and janky speakers with him on this particular visit. As he thumbed through my records, most of which I hadn’t heard yet, I was eager to see which ones he decided to play – especially since he was familiar with some of the records, and he had a sense of what the gems were. When he finally played this album, I remember this song in particular really catching my attention. The lazy sway of the rhythm, the way the vocals were wafting out of the cheap speakers he was using – there was something perfect about the whole scene.

    Although this song is fairly straight-ahead and not hard to find, this style of samba at the time was still very new to me. I was immediately captivated by the sensual delivery of the lyrics, the steady groove and languid use of guitar and cavaquinho, the way the bass comes in, the tension that slowly builds as a result of the interplay between the vocalist and the chorus, all complete with a subtly epic ending using strings and harp.

    I can’t deny that L.A. summers are different from those in Rio. So whenever I feel the need to transport myself back to that summer moment on the hammock, I throw this one on, lay back, and enjoy the sway.


Mid Air: Ease Out
From 12″ (Full Scope, 198x)

(Editor’s intro: If you recall, Brendan collaborated with me to produce the updated Digitizing Guide and apart from helping me sell off a few grails, dude is just an all around, frighteningly impressive record hound who knows more at age 23 than I do now as nearly a 38 year old. If he wasn’t such a good guy, I’d probably hate him (though I’m still at least 15 years away from really entering the “bitter old man” stage). Seriously though, keep an eye on him and his Cavern Productions. Big ‘tings on the horizon. –O.W.)

    In California, no summer is complete without the requisite road trip between the Bay and LA, zooming down I-5 (or if you’re from Southern California, the 5) without so much as an In-and-Out in sight, switching off the A/C to stop the car from overheating on the grapevine. I have a bad habit of being woefully unprepared with music for such trips, and there are barely any FM radio stations for most of the drive, which has resulted in some truly surreal listening experiences, including two hours of commercial-free Gagaku music, driving through no-mans land questioning reality (road-trip requisite #2 – oddly-timed philosophical discussion).

    This year though, I’m coming prepared with music, and the song that captures summer of 2010 for me is an elusive one that I’ve never had a physical copy of – “Ease Out” by Mid-Air. Early 80s funk at its absolute peak, “Ease Out” stays in rotation every summer – for me it’s the song I throw on before heading out the door to go out on a warm summer night, jam while getting down to business on a new project, or blast in the ride going a few too many over the speed limit – summertime should always be a few dBs louder.

    There is, to my knowledge, very little info out there about the group – they were from Chicago and there are two pressings (green lettering is original, purple is the remix), and “Ease Out” was their only song that ever saw the light of day. I can only speculate alongside my Sweaterfunk peoples at how massive “Ease Out” must have been in nightclubs of the era, on massive sound systems, and cruise down to Los Angeles with my summertime jam on repeat.


Heatwave: Star of the Story
From Central Heating (Epic, 1978)

(Editor’s Intro: I once asked DJ Day why he stayed in Palm Springs, having grown up there all his life. His reply: “Most people spend their lives waiting to be able to move out here. I’m already here – why would I moved away?” That logic seemed good enough for me and for certain, DJ Day knows how to live the good life out in what must feel like the endless summer vibe of Palm Springs. I’ve enjoyed his music for years and it only seemed right to have Day talk about one of his favorite summer songs. –O.W.)

    Unlike most folks, where summer is a reward for surviving winter or “just another sunny day in LA”, it’s pretty much the closet thing to hell on earth here in Palm Springs. It can be anywhere from 113 to 120F depending on the day, so for me, it’s all about sunsets and late nights when it comes to the summertime.

    When Oliver first asked me to write a post for Summer Songs I was excited. I can get open, give a top 10, maybe even make a mix…until I realized I had to chose ONE song. Like many of you, my tastes run wide and deep so narrowing it down wasn’t easy. After much back and forth, I decided to go with a classic…

    “The Star Of A Story” by Heatwave (I know, the irony is not lost on me) isn’t “raer” or unknown by any stretch, but the vibe of the song epitomizes the otherworldly feeling of 80 degree nights and distant memories of summer loves passed. Not to get corny, but there’s something else going on with this that can’t be put into words. Maybe it’s the tension in the strings or Rod Temperton’s vocal arrangements, but it’s the auditory equivalent of a summer night here. From drinking 40′s listening to Tribe’s “Verses From The Abstract” to “E Business” from People Under the Stairs, this song has been a part of summer since my youth.

    One of these nights, when everyone has stumbled home from the bbq and you’re under a full moon with a breeze through the trees, put this on and you’ll get an idea of what summer is like in the Coachella Valley. –DJ Day


Cassiano: Onda
From 12″ (Polydor, 1977)

A message from your editor: The 2010 edition of the Soul Sides Summer Songs series has a few small changes. For one, we move over to Word Press and lightly tweaked the template. More importantly, for at least this year, I’m asking all contributors to write about just one song.

For some naive reason, I thought this would make it easier but it’s actually been quite a challenge from folks to limit their musings about summer to just one song. But personally, I like having that kind of framework/limitation. It forces you to be precise (at least in theory).

As the editor…I’m going to cheat though, allowing myself at least a few entries throughout the summer (though again, I’ll only post about a song at a time), beginning with this one…

I’ve actually been waiting a couple of months to write about this song – I got the 12″ back in March but held off until now because I knew I wanted it to be the first summer song I wrote about.

Cassiano was a major figure in the Brazilian soul movements of the 1970s – apparently a contemporary of folks like Tim Maia, Hyldon, Ivan Lins, etc. The folks at Soul Strut were the one who put me up on “Onda” and from the moment I heard it, it absolutely nailed this slow, perfect groove that sounds like a quintissential summer song with its breezy sway and liquid feel.

The fact that the song mostly repeats the hook, over and over, works to its advantage: it takes you out of the routine elements of the day and envelopes you in this mantra that subtly unwinds and relaxes. Hell, I don’t even quite know what they’re saying but I’m assuming it’s nothing urgent. What better way to kick off the summer then to put this on constant rotation and let the season wash over you?

With that, Summer Songs 2010 is officially on. We already have a nice line-up of guest writers lined up; just keep it locked here until the autumn closes us down.