As we sat pretty, our team took the devilish task of going through the infamous Grant Baker’s Spotify playlists. Throughout his musical collection, he has profound artists such as Jay- Z, N.E.R.D., Yves Tumor, and Slayyyter embedded in the nooks and crannies of an archive he refers to as, “Songs I’ve Been Listening to.”
His taste expands farther than just a simple taste or intrigue, it stands as an incredible ability to be a present learner, and steward of life- open and available to memories and their stings. The pain, the love, the indifference. All of these emotions and nostalgia based feelings are attached to his favorite songs on Spotify. Together, we sat down on the phone to talk about his evolving pallet in music.
Interviewer: Tell me about your relationship with music.
Grant Baker: I grew up in a pretty musical family. I don't remember anything other than worship or gospel music being played in our house. When I was about 9 or ten, [that] was when I would start looking stuff up on Youtube and I remember I got Apple Music when it first started.
Interviewer: I remember 2011, I was 9, watching Disney Channel and hearing Bridget Mendler talk about Spotify. I was like, 'what is Spotify?' What was it like back then, Grant?
Grant Baker: It’s always been the same. I mainly used the Spotify on the computer in my grandma’s room. I remember keeping my headphones in and probably playing Minecraft. I remember the night Yeezus came out.
Interviewer: Who were the top 5 people you were streaming back then?
Grant Baker: I didn't really start listening to hip hop until 2012. The biggest songs my friends and I would always listen to were “All Gold Everything” by Trinidad James, “I'm Different” by 2 Chainz, “Started From the Bottom,” and Watch the Throne.
Interviewer: That’s a good segway into rap. Hip-Hop is so versatile- you would think that it would be a surface genre, but there's so many things that I don't know about Hip Hop. It’s music, but it’s also culture related. There’s so many elements that I don't even understand.
Grant Baker: Actively using various websites to find new music is really helpful. Meeting friends who recommend stuff, and going through youtube links and finding random stuff. All of that stuff.
Interviewer: The best feeling is when you’re with your friends in a setting- at the house, or out, and you hear a song and you just get put onto it.
Grant Baker: The most recent one for me was driving with two of my friends- we were trying to do a spring break trip. We were driving to Memphis. One of my friends played the Cocteau Twins, and it’s a pillar of rock music. It never clicked with me, but in that moment, when we were driving it was pouring down.
Interviewer: Fast forward to freshman year of high school. What year was that?
Grant Baker: 2014 or 13.
Interviewer: Grant… no. That doesn’t make any sense to me.
Grant Baker: Something like that. I know, I’m super young.
Interviewer: Fast forward to high school, when did your, “Songs I’ve Been Listening To” playlists come into fruition?
Grant Baker: It started really late. Probably, late 2016. I started doing Apple Music and the thing that got me to switch over to Spotify was I logged onto apple music, and all of my playlists were empty. And so I didn’t mess with it anymore and [I] rebuilt that first part that I have [on spotify.]
Interviewer: Anytime I follow a friend on Spotify, I do some diving. I love stalking on Spotify. It’s my favorite hobby to do when I'm bored, having fun- all of it. The truth comes out. I love seeing the similarities and differences in music I have with people. I feel like your music is kind of like an archive. Tell me about the memories you have with those playlists.
Grant Baker: I feel like each playlist is like a time capsule. It tells me exactly where I was at that moment. I have specific memories when I add certain songs in there. Once I hit 100 songs, I start a new one. It’s a new part of my life- the next ‘whatever.'
Interviewer: People love nostalgia. When we make a monthly playlist or we make a playlist when you’re about to get into the shower, you will have memories associated with those things and it makes you feel something. Speaking of nostalgia, why are you obsessed with Lil B?
Grant Baker: He’s in the top 3 for most influential rap artists for right now. I think the repetition has been bitten by every rapper. I’m confused why he hasn't had much mainstream success. I did meet him. It was weird- I jumped the barricade to meet him after the show.
Interviewer: How does one become astute in the realm of HIp- Hop?
Grant Baker: Mainly, a lot of it comes to being open to stuff that sounds different. People dismiss a lot of the newer stuff because it’s repetitive. You don’t listen to Lil Pump for the same reason you listen to Nas, so there’s no reason to compare them because they’re not trying to do the same thing. There’s so many subcultures. You can’t compare certain years. That’s how fast it moves.
Interviewer: How do we feel about Bjork? It makes me mad because she’s so reclusive. I want to ride my bike with her, I want to get to know her, I want to be her friend.
Grant Baker: She’s the legend. I love the way she’s put together electronic [music]. She has the most insane range. She gets the most insane producers. Her lack of popularity is reflecting that because no one’s doing what she’s doing. She’s one of the few artists who changes. If you listen to Post and listen to the stuff today- it’s such a diverse catalog.
Interviewer: Put me onto somebody- an artist.
Grant Baker: Heaven or Las Vegas by Cocteau Twins [and] the score from If Beale Street Could Talk. Have you seen that?
Interviewer: See, I’m going to literally scream at you because of that movie… I listen to that score so much.
Grant Baker: I can’t even put words behind it. It’s extremely emotional somehow. It’s so good. The movie is amazing. It felt like I was watching a stage play, in the way that all the scenes were set up. I’m not into scores, but if the movie’s good enough, you know you did something right. I probably cried two or three times.