I only have one regret so far in my 39 years of existence. I haven't been friendly enough. I can't be too mad at myself, my dad raised me to understand that I don't really have friends, I have "acquaintances", but I also can't blame him completely as once i'd realised although he meant well he was slightly misguided; it then became my responsibility to move on from that misconception.
The truth is I have more friends than I even know. All of us do. Inadvertently, we all need each other. When I think of all the structures that exist that allow us to live our lives, literal strangers created that I benefit from. No, that's my friend. Love thy neighbour, it all makes sense.
And that's the concept of my newest song with someone I consider a friend, (although we've never met!) SoulChef.
Anyone familiar with my brand of positivity knows that it is firmly rooted in reality and even pessimism (anyone remember the song "Everybody Dies"?), so I'm not acting like the concept of friendship is plain sailing and easy, that's reflected in the songs third verse and I wanted to put together this playlist, a little journey through the ups and downs of friendship. I want to break down a little about each song and why it is where it is in the playlist so without further ado: LETSA GO! (Mario Voice) - here is the spotify and apple play list below with some notes about each song, if you are reading by email and it doesn't load properly please go online!!
- To All My Friends.
A true collaboration, SoulChef sent me the beat. In typical Chima Anya style I tried to do it all myself. Write, record, rap, sing. But my good friend SoulChef was like Chima you can't sing and he is indeed correct, so I hollered at my homie Francis Mott who can sing VERY WELL and his contribution just took the whole song up a thousand levels. Wait till you see the video !!!!
2. You've Got a Friend in Me (Solo Piano Version)
This one is pretty self explanatory. I wanted to set the vibe early with sincerity. Curiously people who listen to the playlist on Apple Music will be treated to a better version of the song as the only solo piano version that exists on Spotify is in collaboration with Rex Orange County. The Toy Story version of the song is a bit much for me and Rex's voice while very sweet lacks the playful emotive weight of Randy's.
3. Real Friends
"When was the last time I wasn't in a hurry". This song really resonated with me when it dropped, my early thirties, always in a hurry trying to get things done before I was too old. It's slow lamenting vibe invited me to relax slow down and meditate on what was really important.
Opening yourself up to friends means opening yourself up to betrayal. And people will betray you, the amazing thing is, that even in spite of that, we stay open, and that's how we keep it moving. I heard this song on Gangstarr's greatest hits album at the time hence the artwork I chose to represent the song, the whole double CD is essential listening !!!
5. Buddy (Native Tongue Decision)
While this song is not explicitly about friendship in the way I'm referring to mostly here I decided to include it because a) it's called buddy! b) it's light hearted and fun - which is how one tends to interact with buddies c) it's a crew cut with many buddies getting down and just vibing to together. We can discuss friends with benefits another time.
6. Lean on Me
This song all about repping for your peoples, the sense of happiness when you think about your friends and the joy you bring into the world together. It's a celebration of communities "My block behind me" and how we inspire each other. Interestingly Kanye's contribution is the only verse not really on this flex and only about himself but you can always change the song before he stats rapping.
Iconic. FRIENDS. HOW MANY OF US HAVE THEM????. Also, the beat??? the synth, the bounce, it's definite evidence of another dimension. But ye this is kinda on the nose, they laboriously rap about every type of friend lol but essential nonetheless. The chorus makes up for having to endure the rap verses (sorry 80s rap fans).
9. Worst comes to Worst
"I got world wide family, all over the earth, and I worry about them all for what it's worth".
The beat, the sample, Alchemist, even a special appearance from GURU, a scratched chorus that can completely stand on it's own. Classic hiphop about friendship, it had to go in the playlist.
10. I Get Lonely
Putting my doctor hat on here. Loneliness is a major risk factor for disease . Having been in the job for over a decade I've seen the devastating effects first hand of poor social support. Drakes neediness comes through excellently on this song and that's why I chose to include it. Wether we like to admit it or not, we all get lonely and sometimes a kind word even from a stranger can be the difference between us keeping it moving or just giving up. I love this song.
11. The Point of all this
I chose this song for this point of the playlist as I think the vibe is actually quite drake-esque. This was me at my most naval gazing nihilistic and what is funny to me is now what I actually hear is - the point of all this is - friends, family, fun. I just didn't have the right perspective at the time.
The way this song lifts from "the point of all this" was perfect in terms of sequencing this playlist. I feel like the common conception of loyalty has been distorted, it's almost like if i'm loyal to one person I can't be loyal to another, but actually loyalty is just being supportive. You can be loyal to two opposing factions, it's support that is the key. This song is such a fun vibe.
Still in keeping with the concept of loyalty. I just love this vibe and try to share it as often as I can lol
14. Old friends x New foes
I love how carefully this song starts, as you feel the friendship deteriorating, how carefully you have to tread, out of reverence for the respect that you once had but when it moves into all out war the urgency of the second part of the song is palpable.
15 Deep Friend Frenz
Friends will let you down. That's this section of the playlist. It's ok. It's part of it. It's what makes your actual friends even more special. So many bars in this song:
"send me a letter or even better we can see each other in real life, so you can feel me like a steel knife" - that is COLD, it's like he saying yo let's spend time together, SO I CAN STAB YOU lol...
"never lets your so called mans, know your plans"
And ofcourse - the reprise to Whodini.
16 By Your Side
O.k a bit of resolution here. This the sound of that friend coming through out of the blue last minute that you didn't even realise but in reality they had your back the whole time.
17. My Family
And just like that, you back up, ready to go to war for your Family.
18. Got Friends
I included this because it exemplifies the concept of the importance of your network. Friends of friends of friends is how the world works. You can think of it as nepotism, but actually if we just operate in a friendly with each other it that's how things move forward. Relationships are the building blocks for everything. It doesn't have be sleazy smooching networking vibes and it's probably more efficacious for finding a life partner than dating apps.
19 Crew Love
I'm sorry for including drake so much, to be honest every time I played this song at BEspoke I would cut it off before Drakes verse, I didn't realise it's actually his song. This would be the sickest song to drop, when the club is going off some high tempo music and you slow it all the way down and everyone shows love to their crew!!! no one ever complained that I didn't play Drakes verse either.
20. The Chain
I was scouring my whole music collection looking for songs about friendship and there is a surprisingly low amount. I saw this tune and while I love this song, I must admit I never really knew what it was about. It's funny that I had a feeling that it could in someway be related to friendship. So I did a bit of research about the song and it emerges what the chain is in reference to is the bond between people/ friendship groups etc. and that this song is actually about how strong it is. What a result. So glad I can include it in my playlist and what a song. If you've never heard this song before YOU ARE WELCOME MY FRIEND.
This one is a straight play on words. We are all neighbours. Act accordingly.
This beautiful song is a story about this different friends, all who have taken different paths and all he has left of the various relationships is photos which he cherishes, which sort is a summary of all the themes of the playlist we've explored so far.
23. You've got a friend
This chorus is so infectious. I'm most familiar with the Brand New Heavies version being a 90s baby but I had to draw for the original. SoulChef actually suggested this joint (the James Taylor version) but I had give the credit to the original writer of the song.
24. After All this Time
This song is structured as a conversation between myself and 2 close friends who died. In the conversation all the themes mentioned above get explored and it's actually the song of mine that probably has gone the furthest, it's how SoulChef heard of me and we ended up working together. My friends still teaching me and helping me decades after their deaths. Seemed an appropriate end to my playlist about friendship.
If you've made it this far thanks so much! hope you enjoy the songs and hope to see you soon friend!