sam's top 12 favorite mixes in 2017

by sam lai

back in 2016, i started keeping track of the mixes i listened to on soundcloud by compiling monthly playlists labeled “100%”. early on, i didn’t pay attention to who made the mix, mostly judging it by the cover art or whether i recognized anything on the tracklist. once my friend summer invited me to join her music blog/virtual community space named @wocbeats (women of color beats), i began being more intentional in what mixes i chose to listen to and who put them together. thus, i am proud to say that all 227 mixes (missing a few since they got taken down) featured in my 100% series in 2017 were created by womxn of color, transgender and non-binary folks, and queers. i spend so much time on soundcloud looking for fresh mixes, and get so excited whenever i find someone who puts out their own.

in this list, i’m honored to share my top 12 favorite mixes released in 2017.

january - chingonxs to the front / chulita sad sam @chulitavinylclub

i confess that i don’t listen to or know a lot of punk rock bands. only after i started dating my partner, a brown cis straight man who grew up in east los angeles and loves the smiths (of course), did i come to understand the roots of punk music come from black and brown folks, particularly radical womxn and queer folk. as someone who mostly listens to 90s rnb and the latest pop music, i surprised myself by how much i loved this mix. not only does it capture the fierceness of brown voices, it also sends the message to womxn of color to raise their voices and take up space. this mix stood out to me because it captured so well the hxstory and sound of a movement.

february: lust,love&loathing VALENTINE's DAY MIX for ACCLAIM magazine / @amberakilla

amber akilla definitely has one of my favorite social media accounts on twitter and IG for her cheeky, self-aware sense of humor. of course, this mix appropriately starts off with DVSN’s “too deep” and includes sza’s “twoAM” and frank ocean!! so many of my faves in here!! whether or not you got a crush to text, this is the soundtrack to play when you’re feeling yourself.

march: FADER mix / @hoodykim

when i stumbled across hoody last year, i knew i found a gem. i first heard her vocals on the track “F.W.B.” by fellow korean artist ELO. what i love about this mix is how well it mixes 80s pop with clubby edits. hoody’s star is on the rise, and this mix demonstrates that she can balance groovy dance beats with edgy techno. given how hip hop and rnb dominates the k-pop scene nowadays, it is refreshing to hear the unique electronic sounds that hoody curated in this mix.

april: in time (side a.)/ @hourglassmixes

this mix really sets the moooood. based in atlanta by way of charlotte, NC, DJ hourglass seamlessly transitions from rihanna to khalid, from groove theory to miguel. there’s plenty of 90s rnb vibes to satiate my appetite, and while most of the songs are familiar, DJ hourglass puts a fresh spin on them. like who can hate a mix that has frank ocean’s “pink + white”?? the effortless way that DJ hourglass melds these tracks together makes me wish i could mix, or at least witness her live.

may: F*CK / @jcaradelrosario

one of the reasons i started the 100% playlist series was discovering amazing mixes by people who love good music but may not necessarily produce their own or have a full-time job in music. i’m so blessed to be in the bay area where there are plenty of venues where i can listen to the music featured on this mix and be surrounded by babes of color! short and sweet, the title of this mix pretty much says it all: whatever activity you do to this soundtrack, you’ll wanna get up and dance.

june: mind F x C K VI / @mona-lisa-taurus

i’ve been following DJ mona-lxsa dublin for a while now, and her mind f x c k series is consistently good. this one in the series continues the moody vibe, the kind that makes you want to check up on your ex. while mona-lxsa might be a taurus (going by her soundcloud URL), these mixes sound like a scorpio at their most emotional, so beware cuz you will be in your feelings!

july: TIHYKIWY- summer sol (new moon cancer) / @decolonizedmind

as someone who strongly believes in astrology, i love DJ decolonizedmind’s cosmically aligned mixes for being on point and full of substance beyond the music. they bless listeners with each mix released in time with the new moon accompanied by a blog post. also, from our limited online interactions, i know DJ decolonizedmind is a dope activist and educator. they’re intentional in including artists who are womxn of color, and in this summertime soundtrack, there’s bangers like “thunder thighs” by miss eaves and “godsteppin” by rocky rivera.

august: L A V E N D E R / @morganne-nikole

“don’t compromise your soul,” croons neosoul singer M.I.BLUE on what morganne nikole describes as “a sound remedy for the mind that overthinks”. everything about this mix channels intention and healing energy, from the title to the tracklist. i feel truly fortunate to have come across morganne’s soundcloud, since all of their mixes speak to the heart and spirit. their mixes serve as a reminder to take pause and practice stillness and self-reflection. the best way to listen to this mix is to have some lavender nearby and share a cup of tea with someone you love.

september: SF->SJ->SF / @leviathenvoi

*note: i’m not biased that i chose this mix because lien is one of my best friends haha.*

of course, i do know the backstory of this mix, and what makes me adore it even more is the range of genres it encompasses. it coasts through alina baraz’s “fantasy”, king krule’s “border line”, and picks the beat back up with kaytranada’s “you’re the one”. the first 10 minutes and last 1.5 minute are my favorite parts, so dreamy and romantic!

october: OHSO LIVE ON SWAY IN THE MORNING 2017 #SHADE45 / @djohsoxo

DJ ohso is hands down one of the hottest acts coming out of 2017. as a follower of hers since 2016, i’m so happy that last year was a busy one: she performed at almost 100 events! ohso has got it all: impeccable transitions, a dedication to uplifting young girls and women, and no hesitation calling out white and non-black people who say the n-word at her shows. i love that this mix is jam-packed with throwbacks, which is a testament to DJ ohso’s passion for having a fun time. i’m excited to see what 2018 will bring for DJ ohso cuz she’s on fire and deserves all the best!

november: appetizers 3 / @plzpassthepie

this mix got me through my commute to work during my last month there, and even upon re-listening to it for this blog, i’ve replayed it three times cuz it’s just that good. i’ve been blessed enough to have seen DJ salty sherilyn perform as part of the all QTPOC day party, hunnies & hot sauce, and at the bimonthly humpday hunnies at the miranda in oakland. so exciting to see sherilyn’s representing the bay through cheat day oakland and putting on dope events. i swear i teared up hearing sherilyn’s edit of kehlani’s “honey” on this mix cuz it just blows my mind to witness queer people of color taking up space and being unapologetic in their identities. i’m so here for it, and i’m so excited for what 2018 will bring for us. favorite part: shigeo sekito’s “the word II” mixed with jamie foxx’s “blame it on the alcohol”.

december: NIGHTCAPPERS LIVE @ MOOD RING NYC 10.19 / @fiveboi

nothing i write here will do justice to the cultural impact of this mix. y’all have to get over to fiveboi’s instagram to hear it from her. standout quote: “it’s going down on a libra new moon so i know this shit is ALIGNED aka the universe wants you to come through, so come one, come all”. with a caption like that, i don’t care about showing up by myself and staying all night, fuck it! this set showcases her eclectic taste in makeout music: opening with one of the theme songs from rick and morty, it takes you through an ambient multiverse where travis scott and rae sremmurd kick it with mikky ekko and rave with daniella andrade. there’s something for everyone in this playlist, and like vanessa said, the universe wants you at this function. good people like fiveboi are the reason things are gonna be ok.

sam laimixes, 2017