DJ Rashad Hayes Summer Playlist - Rolling Stone
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DJ Rashad Hayes’ Summer Essentials Playlist

New York DJ shares his favorite summertime jams

DJ Rashad Hayes

DJ Rashad Hayes

Courtesy of DJ Rashad Hayes

DJ Rashad Hayes is a New York DJ originally from Brooklyn who has spent time living in Maryland, Seattle and Los Angeles.

“I got to see all the different aspects of music as they were happening in those regions,” Hayes tell Rolling Stone. “I was in the West Coast when it was poppin’; then I was in the South when it was an explosion. So I got to see the differences and see the pride of it and encapsulate all those things. 

“When I was in college and I started DJing, my whole aim was always to come back to New York City,” says the DJ. Upon returning to New York City in 2006 to pursue a full-time DJ career, Hayes eventually linked up with Mark Ronson, an influence alongside DJ AM and Q-Tip. Since then, he’s DJed parties for Drake, Jay Z and Nas, among others, and currently holds residencies at The DL and the rooftop of the Empire Hotel. He has also produced tribute mixes to the Roots and Mos Def and DJed events for numerous companies, including Lamborghini and Bentley. Hayes shared his essential summertime tracks.

1. Ed Sheeran, “Sing”

It’s written by Pharrell and you can definitely tell there’s a Justin Timberlake influence. It’s just a dope summer joint man. You can just see it coming out of high-end boutiques in Soho, hearing it in cool new record stores and stuff like that. I like how Pharrell brought him out of his comfort zone and it’s like summer. It’s almost like a futuristic blues folk song, like a breakbeat.

2. Usher, “Good Kisser”

I love this song because it’s a light summer, flirty song that you can hear in your head as you’re walking down the street. It’s like checking women out on the street; like grab a girl and get her number. Everything about the song is perfect and it definitely makes you feel alive. The highlight is definitely the acapella bridge at the end; it’s a little ill type of spiritual.

3. Fitz and the Tantrums, “The Walker”

Mike Fitzpatrick’s just a great songwriter. It’s very structured. I love dope pop songs that are clever and have elements of soul, funk, and rock and it’s all anchored under this big huge sing-along hook. It’s just a genius song.

4. Buddy featuring Miley Cyrus, “Smoke Signals” 

Buddy is a new artist out of L.A. and he’s signed by Pharrell. It’s just an absolutely refreshing, dope song. It feels like driving down Hollywood with the top down heading to the beach. The melody is perfect and it’s genius for Pharrell to use Miley’s voice like an ill sample throughout the track. Like you can’t even tell it’s her because they use it almost like a sample; it’s like a siren. It’s the perfect summertime joint.

5. Tinashe featuring Schoolboy Q, “2 On” 

This is currently the joint for ladies in the club, before the club, after the club. It’s like a summer anthem. It’s going to be a joint everyone’s going to remember in 2014. Tinashe’s a really dope artist. I can’t wait to hear her album and this is a great summertime joint for the ladies and it’s chill in the clubs in New York right now.

6. Konshens, “Bad Gal”

It’s a personal favorite of mine because it’s a summer joint of the islands. And it just feels really summer-y and just a dope summer reggae dance song.

7. YG featuring Drake, “Who Do You Love?”

This one’s from DJ Mustard, the same producer of the Tinashe joint. He’s the king of the clubs right now in New York and killed all of 2014 with his beats. They sound like Cali; just dope ridin’ music at its finest. YG brings the Compton flavor, Drake kills it as usual and it’s killin’ the clubs in New York.

8. Lil Wayne and Drake, “Believe Me”

Wayne and Drake’s chemistry on this one is undeniable. Wayne is back in joint mode; he’s killin’ everything. The beat is just sinister. It’s produced by BOI1DA AND VINYLZ. It’s killing New York radio right now.

9. Vic Mensa, “Down on My Luck”

It’s one of my favorites at the moment because he’s a really talented new artist out of Chicago and it’s just a credible, catchy tune. It’s got a melody on it and clever songwriting. And if you listen to it, it’s going to be in your head the rest of the day. It’s just a real summertime, ill, futuristic type of old school-house type shit.

10. Trey Songs, “Na Na”

DJ Mustard, once again, is crazy on the beat and kills it in the clubs. When the girls hear it, they rush and yell. I love the Fugees reference on it since they’re one of my favorite groups. It’s just the perfect summertime joint for the clubs.

Can I have like two bonus joints? K Camp’s “Cut Her Off”. He’s a young dude out of Atlanta and he’s killing it in the clubs. He has real ill songwriting and his understanding of melodic structures is insane. He’s definitely shocked a lot of people and the song is definitely going to be a summer anthem. 

And the 12th song is Raekwon’s “Ice Cream.” It’s a classic throwback joint. It’s a classic Wu joint and the definition of a summer banger. When everybody hears it, everybody rushes to the floor because it’s a classic Wu-Tang joint.

DJ Rashad Hayes is currently working in the studio on a series of beat tapes, including a tribute to mix to J Dilla. He will soon release Black Means Forever, a mixtape focusing on his soul and funk influences.


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