Summer has different meanings for different people, but for many it’s also the prime time for cookouts and barbecues.
Be it a seaside grill in a tourist town or a pot luck in a New York City park, dining al fresco with friends and family is as much a part of the season as baseball or sunburns. And while everyone has a personal favorite marinade or potato salad recipe, there are also different versions of the most important non-edible element of a cookout: the playlist.
amNewYork caught up with CeeLo Green, who is performing at this summer’s Afropunk Brooklyn music festival, to talk about the best music to accompany a summer barbecue.
Do you remember music being a big part of cookouts when you were a kid?
Oh definitely. I used to hear Evelyn “Champagne” King’s “Shame,” I used to hear Tavares’ “Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel” — that was a good one. McFadden & Whitehead’s “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now” was a hit, too.
What makes for a good cookout song?
When you think of barbecues, you think of all the generations being there. The elders are there all the way through to the little ones. So you play the records that are a bridge between those generations. You can never argue with the music from the past that came from our parents. How are you going to argue with “Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel,” you know? That song is a bright, clear, sunny day, you know what I’m saying? The smell of the grill, chicken and hot dogs, laughter. It just sounds joyful, there’s a lot of sweetness in that song and of the songs of that era. It was shamelessly romantic. Those fundamentals still boil down to the core of it being family.
If you were throwing a barbecue this weekend, what would be your go-to track?
I like to put together a mix; the first song that comes to mind is Chubb Rock’s “Treat‘Em Right.” Another one that, as unassuming as the song was, defied all of our expectations of it in terms of how long it’s stayed around, is Montell Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It.” That’s still the jam for parties.