Emily Wells Picks Five Must-Have Mixtapes for Summer

Emily Wells

Emily Wells is a classically-trained violinist who trills her way through emotive songs with her endearingly airy voice. This week, she releases the swoonsome ten-track Mama Acoustic Recordings set, which is hooked around her performing a stripped-down reinterpretation of last year’s Mama album. But Emily is also something of a huge underground hip-hop fanatic and earlier this year released Pillowfight, a project with hip-hop producer du-jour Dan the Automator. Thus, she knows a thing or two about what makes a solid beat. Here’s five mixtapes she’s rocking right now and thinks you should be too.

1.  Rockie Fresh, Electric Highway

“Now you might think I’m biased: I came to this mixtape when a friend of mine played “Barrel of a Gun” which samples a live version of my “Symphony 1 in the Barrel of a Gun” playing throughout. It was a shock, but it was kind of a dream as I’m a huge fan of Maybach music and now of Rockie Fresh. The production throughout the tape is innovative; it’s not mimicking anything else I’m hearing right now. I’ve been listening to Rockie’s newer The Birthday Tape too and I’m liking it, especially the James Blake sampled song “Life Round Here,” but Electric Highway still stays at the top of my list.” [Download via Datpiff.]

2. Big K.R.I.T., King Remembered in Time

This is some of my favorite kind of hip-hop — production that is often grandiose, that moves you and is incredibly musical, and the kind of raps where you know the person behind the mic is also moved, means what he’s saying and isn’t just floating on bravado. This reminds me at moments of some early Outkast, but with very much Krit’s own voice. My favorite song is “Multi Til the Sun Die.” [Download via Datpiff.]

3. J. Cole, Cole Front

Soul samples, confident production and raps! He discusses moving back towards traditional soul and away from modern synthy production in some of the lyrics and I think this is what appeals to me most about this mixtape. [Download via Datpiff.]

4. Chance the RapperAcid Rap

I just got this — it’s playful and honest at once and immediate. I want to keep listening. I like his distinctive voice, but it’s mostly the lyrics that do it for me, which are clever and give us an eye into his world and his personality. [Download via Audiomack.]

5Travis PorterMr. Porter

There are some good songs on here, but I got a little bit addicted to “Err Damn Day” which features Jeremih.  It’s good to have an East L.A. anthem while living in New York. That said, the whole tape is worth a listen. [Download via LiveMixTapes.]