30 years ago this month — on September 24th, 1991 — two albums released on the exact same day would have a significant impact on my own musical development and popular culture at large. Nirvana’s Nevermind and A Tribe Called Quest’s The Low End Theory were radically different records. Nevermind was full of fire and volume. The aesthetic of the American indie / post-punk underground collided with dissatisfaction and pent-up rage of White generation Xers on Nevermind and rock music would never be the same after it. On the other side of the coin, A Tribe Called Quest captured the bohemian cool and streetwise culture of a certain subset of Black American youth who grew up in the post-civil rights era. While Nevermind would channel punk’s energy into catchy pop-rock nuggets that rang with emotional truth, The Low End Theory used sampling to call upon decades of soul and jazz to create an album that reflected a living historical continuum that connected hip hop to its musical ancestors. Both albums would change me fundamentally.

Both the viscerality and emotional truth of Nevermind and The Low End Theory’s correspondence with the music of our past are ideals and characteristics that inform the music that I select for Culture Cypher Radio. This month songs like The Beatnuts’ “World’s Famous” and DJ Shadow’s “Building Steam with a Grain of Salt” celebrate the music of the past through the joy of sampling while Martina Topley-Bird’s “Wyman” and KA’s “Everybody Up” make a convincing case that 30 years after Nevermind, contemporary musicians are able to make us feel something new.

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1. Little Simz feat. Obongjayar – “Point And Kill”

2. DJ Shadow – “Building Steam With a Grain of Salt”

3. Moka Only – “Hi”

4. Martina Topley-Bird – “Wyman”

5. The Beatnuts feat. VIC – “World’s Famous”

6. Common feat. Black Thought & Seun Kuti – “When We Move”

7. Bush Babees feat. Q-Tip – “Three MCs”

8. AZ – “Never Enough”

9. KA – “Everybody Up”

10. A Tribe Called Quest – “Excursions”

A Tribe Called Quest — Excursions
A Tribe Called Quest — Check The Rhime
A Tribe Called Quest — Jazz (We’ve Got)
Cymande — Brothers on the Slide
Common feauring Jill Scott — I Am Music
DJ Shadow — Best Foot Forward
DJ Shadow — Building Steam With a Grain of Salt
DJ Shadow — Midnight in a Perfect World
Grooveman Spot feat. Count Bass D — Benzaiten Love
Moka Only — Hi
D’Angelo — Devil’s Pie
AZ — Never Enough
KA — Everybody Up
KA — Enough Prise
Martina Topley-Bird — Wyman
GZA feat. Ghostface Killah, RZA, Killa Priest — 4th Chamber
Jazzy Jeff feat. J-live — A Charmed Life
De La Soul — The Brakes
GB feat. Spacek — Simply So (Sa-Ra Remix)
Bush Babees feat. Q-Tip — 3 MC’s
Nice & Smooth — Old to the New
The Beatnuts feat. V.I.C. — World’s Famous
Rock La Flow — What!?
Original Flavor feat. Jay-Z — Can I Get Open?
Planet Asia feat. Willie The Kid — Dalai Lama Slang
Weather Report — Mysterious Traveller
The Sons And Daughters of Lite — JuJu’s Door
ShrapKnel — Red Herring
Saun & Starr — Look Closer (Can’t You See The Signs)
Erykah Badu — Bag Lady (live)
All Natural — 50 Years
Common feat. Seun Kuti, Black Thought — When We Move
Edwin Starr — War (King Britt remix)
Antibalas — Big Man
Little Simz feat. Obongiayar — Point And Kill
Little Simz — Little Q Pt. 2
Starvin B, Zangif Nori & Breeze Brewin — Fresh Rhymes
Emma-Jean Thackray — Venus
Miles Davis — Black Satin
Carl bradney — Slipping into Darkness
Interpol — Obstacle 1 (Arthur Baker’s Return to New York mix)
James Mason — Sweet Power Your Embrace