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The Filter Podcast’s Season 1 Musical Playlist

Above image: The Filter - Vicky Diaz-Camacho & Ieshia Downtown | photo: Kansas City PBS

Hosts Vicky Díaz-Camacho and Ieshia Downton break down their first season through music

Music was the match that lit the flame for both of us to create a show that we’d call The Filter. 

Almost one year ago we, who were fairly new hires at the time, sat across one another in the newsroom as a song by Ari Lennox’s newly released “Shea Butter Baby” played in the background. The song sparked conversation, which led to a friendship. In the months that followed, we’d take walk breaks and talk about almost everything. We thought, why don’t we start a culture podcast that takes our lunch break chats into the studio? A pitch and approval later, here we are. 

And being that our beginnings began with song, each episode is named after a song that connects to the discussion of the month. This playlist includes all six titles and a few favorite songs we’ve found throughout the year. 

“Don’t Touch My Hair” by Solange: This track is our first episode in a nutshell. In our debut episode, we dove into the natural hair resurgence in Kansas City, and the current legislation that was on the floor to protect communities against discrimination from those who embrace their natural tresses in the workplace. Solange’s angelic voice explains the complexity of hair and beauty as a Black woman in America. 

“Alone, Together” by The Strokes: This is the perfect song for an imperfect moment. When producing our second episode, life suddenly shifted from the studio to a makeshift in-home studio because of a novel virus upending all of our lives and work routines. As the chorus goes: “Things, they have changed // In such a permanent way // Life seems unreal.” In this second episode, we got real about our new social lives and how the handling of a public health crisis revealed other symptoms. Racism. Othering. Political confusion. We may be feeling alone but we’re in this together.

“Dear God” by Monsters of Folk: During moments of crisis and pain, some people turn to spirituality or faith. So, we wondered, what are people doing with their uncertainty during this new pandemic? This song struck a chord. The band, made up of My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, She & Him’s M. Ward, Conor Oberst, Bright Eyes’ Mike Mogis and Centro-Matic’s Will Johnson, wrote a mournful, contemplative song on faith. It perfectly aligned with the topic of discussion, where we turn to three different spiritual leaders on how they were faring in these times. 

“Good Morning” by Kanye West: Ironically, West never did graduate from college, but the song still reigns significance every year during grad season. In our fourth episode, we discuss the challenges for students of color on and off campus and special tools to overcome. 

“Be Free” by J. Cole: For our fifth episode we dove deep into the history and relevance of Juneteenth. This track greatly exemplifies the celebration and conflicting victory over June 19 and where the liberation of Black folks in America stands today. 

“Melanin” by Afro B: This song is an anthem of loving the skin you’re in, particularly those with darker skin tones. It perfectly aligns with the theme in our season finale: colorism and featurism. We bookended our first season with deep-rooted questions about race, identity and belonging. In episode six, we look into why there exists prejudices and preferences for certain skin tones – oftentimes, we found out, people think the lighter, the better – and features that resemble the Eurocentric ideal of beauty. 

“Devoted” by Aysia BerLynn: If you didn’t know, now you know what our theme song is! This beautiful song encapsulates the vibes we want our listeners to feel when tuned in every month.  Aysia BerLynn, a singer-songwriter based in St. Louis, graciously allowed us to include this enchanting track to The Filter sound.

“BETTY” by Jamila Woods: In her 2019 album, “Legacy! Legacy!”, songstress Jamila Woods named each track after influential Black people. The album’s opener, “BETTY,” talks about running from oneself, but eventually accepting your uniqueness. This song resonates with me, because during quarantine, I’ve come to know more about myself since being away from many everyday distractions. 

“Slow Down” by Skip Marley ft. H.E.R.: Feeling overwhelmed, or anxious? This song will definitely mellow you out. Surviving during a pandemic is no easy task; throw this record on to give yourself a chance to breathe. 

“Better Days” by Odunsi (The Engine) ft. WANI: That’s the sentiment we all share, right? This song is sure to make the day better with its electric rhythms and catchy melodies. The artist, who’s part of the Nigerian alt scene, keeps rolling out banger after banger. The songs are uplifting in their own way and in this case, “Better Days” serves as a reminder that better days are ahead, even if it is at home bingeing the latest Netflix original. Enjoy the little things. 

“You Can’t Save Me” by SiR: SiR is an artist who is lyrically candid in his emotions. This track exudes just that. He opens with the lines, “In another time, in another place” — a sentiment that has probably crossed all of our minds during the current circumstances.

“After the Storm” by Kali Uchis ft. Tyler the Creator, Bootsy Collins: Perhaps best known for her sultry voice and old school vibe, the Colombian-American artist’s collaboration with Tyler and Bootsy renders an enjoyable, sunny sound. And the message is exactly what we need right now. As the chorus goes: “The sun will come out. Nothing good ever comes easy… Don’t you give up.”

“10k Hours” by Jhene Aiko ft. Nas: Having to social distance and quarantine for months can take a toll on anyone. In this song, Aiko explains the emotions of missing someone for 10,000 hours because she can't let go of 10,000 memories. Even though no one is counting, the days between March to now feel just that long. 

“Nada” by Lido Pimienta ft. Li Saumet: As soon as this song starts, vocalist Lido Pimienta’s siren-like “oohs” draw you in. Her vocals ripple over traditional cumbia drums, an ode to the artist’s Colombian roots, and draws on meditative, repetitive elements to drive the song forward. Her Afro-indigenous influences are front and center in this song, and throughout her album “Miss Colombia.” This song, however, is an intimate conversation as she confronts the anxieties she experienced after giving birth. She’s joined by Bomba Estereo’s frontwoman Li Saumet for a mesmerizing duet about womanhood, trauma, mortality and strength. 

“Biking” by Frank Ocean: If you’ve heard any Frank Ocean song, you know how his voice and production is completely mesmerizing. “Biking” is no different. Close your eyes, and let Ocean guide you through the carefree experience of biking — a common extracurricular activity turned into a booming hobby during the last couple of months, while several attractions have been shut down. 

“Heavy” by Kiana Ledé: This song is lyrically and emotionally, well, heavy. For some people, the pandemic hit a little differently, stirring up stress, anxiety and depression. Just know you’re not the only one. In this song, Ledé, tells her personal story of depression and anxiety. Have your tissues nearby, because this one may be a tearjerker. 

“Vamóno” by Buscabulla: Puerto Rican duo Raquel Berrios and Luis Alfredo Del Valle know how to create a modern ethereal sound that somehow threads in 1970s salsa influences. In 2014, Dev Hynes (also known by his stage name Blood Orange) named Buscabulla winners of a competition that would land them their first EP. Fun fact: Their name (pronounced Boo-scah-boo-yah) means “troublemaker” in Spanish slang. Years later, they continue producing their retro-electronic, salsa beat-infused soundscape. Just sit, breathe and listen. 

“Champagne Coast”' by Blood Orange: We can’t leave Dev Hyne’s solo project out when we included Buscabulla. So this song, dropped in 2011, is the beginning of the artist’s signature style, heard in collaborations with other artists such as Solange and Carly Rae Jepsen. Blending raw vocals and synth-driven beats, Blood Orange creates a world of his own, one that’s a perfect, sonic escape.

“Turn the Light” Karen O & Danger Mouse: The Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O is already a force but tack on trip-hop, hip-hop electronica master Danger Mouse and you have this. Groovy bass drives the song, it’s almost meditative. We all need more meditation these days, right? Trust us. Turn this on and go with the flow.

“Tenderness” by Jay Som: By now you’ve probably guessed we love some hip-hop, dreamwave vibes. This lo-fi song is no different, written and produced by Los Angeles-based Filipina artist Melina Mae Duerte. It’s a soft and gentle reminder, albeit in sonic form, that we all need more tenderness in the world.  

“Mas y mas” by Reyna Tropical: Punctuated by delightful guitar riffs and steered by whimsical vocals, Reyna Tropical folds in electro-dream pop sounds with Afro-Mexican drum beats. The duo, also known by their pseudonym Sumohair, is a collaborative effort by Fabi Reyna and Nectali Diaz — both of whom grew up in Mexico. In addition to her work in this group, Reyna has also built a following for appearing on She Shreds, a platform that elevates women guitarists and bassists. Those melodies you hear? All her.    

“Magic” by Linda Diaz: The New York-based songstress dropped this song back in February and is also the recently minted NPR Tiny Desk Contest winner, announced Aug. 4. Twinkly synth backdrops and reverb-laden vocals create a smooth neo-soul sound, one that NPR called “euphoric.” I concur. Let this take you away into her magic land of sweet affirmations and chill vibes. 

“I Want You Around” by Snoh Aelegra: At this point, I want all my friends around but we’re having to do virtual hangs these days via Zoom. But, this is the song I’m dedicating to them. R&B maven Snoh Aelegra is an Iranian-Swedish singer who listed Sade and Brandy among her main influences. Can you hear it? 

“On & On” by Erykah Badu: What’s a playlist without a little Baduizm? And these days, time really does just go on and on and on. This song is on her 1997 debut album “Baduizm” that blends jazz and hip-hop vibes, the queen’s solo entry to the universe. Known for her mesmerizing voice and, well, all around aesthetic, this song is the song to listen to in these times. And if you haven’t already, go watch her Instagram Live event with Jill Scott. These two artists laid the foundation for a number of artists on this list. We could go on and on but we’ll let you go ahead and listen.  

“Melanin Poppin’” by Khrystal.: What better way to conclude our season one playlist than with a song that perfectly relates to our last episode? Kansas City’s own, Khrystal., exudes confidence from beginning to end in this ode to deeper skin tones. Turn it up and enjoy! 

Listen to Season 1 of The Filter here via Flatland and check out a full Spotify playlist below!

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