1. “Who Got Da Props?” Black Moon, 1993
In high school, I started getting into underground New York hip-hop — I would tape these radio shows late at night. I heard this song, and I had to go buy the 12-inch. That’s what led me to DJ’ing.
2. “Cult of Personality,” Living Colour, 1988
At the same time, I was playing in bands. We were five city kids — two white kids, three black kids, all of us 14 or 15. Living Colour was all we wanted to be.
3. “Cut the Cake,” the Average White Band, 1975
Their approach to rhythm guitar was so tight.
4. “Dream Come True,” the Brand New Heavies, 1990
I loved this instantly. It was sweet but funky.
5. “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.),” Pete Rock and CL Smooth, 1992
This is definitely the first hip-hop song that ever made me cry from emotion.
6. “Work,” Gang Starr, 1998
When I was starting to make beats, nothing influenced me more than wanting to be DJ Premier. He almost had the feel of a great rock drummer.
7. “Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You),” Stevie Wonder, 1972
I was dating this girl in L.A., and it wasn’t going well. I went out there, and she dumped me. So I bought a cheap electric piano and figured out how to play this song.
8. “Remember (Walkin’ in the Sand),” the Shangri-Las, 1964
Amy Winehouse played this for me the first day that we met. I listened to it that night and came up with the main piano chords for “Back to Black.”