Sounds of Summer: Chairman Mao's Playlist

Chairman Mao, the resident DJ of Red Rooster has kept folks in the groove at every event he's spun--from the Chopped All-Stars finale party to packed Friday night dinner crowds. What better way to help kick off a summer of listening pleasure than to ask the expert himself?

We're dying to know--what's on your summer playlist?

Summer is always prime time for lots of disco classics and old school b-boy breaks since it’s park jam season. I’ve always had a blast spinning at St. Nicholas Park the past few years as part of the “Digger’s Delight” series. And off the top of my head, these are some things I’ve been listening to lately:

Pharoah Sanders – “Heart Is a Melody”

Willis Earl Beal – “Evening’s Kiss”

Marvin Gaye – “Ain’t That Peculiar (Oddisee Remix)”

The Upsetters – Blackboard Jungle Dub LP

Tyrone Evans – “Rise Up” (NYC Trust Disco Mix)

And of course in remembrance:

Chuck Brown & the Soul Searchers – “Go-Go Swing (Live)” (RIP Chuck Brown)

Brainstorm – “We’re On Our Way Home” (RIP Belita Woods )

Any classic Beastie Boys in memory of Adam Yauch.

What ten songs make up the soundtrack of your life?

There are these songs that always bring me back my childhood and teenage years. Good times.

Jackson 5 – “Goin’ Back to Indiana” This is the title song to the first album my parents ever bought for me.

George McCrae – “Rock Your Baby,” as heard via the K-Tel Records TV commercials.

Stevie Wonder on Sesame Street. I mean, this is just classic.

Boston – “More Than a Feeling.” This is special because when I was a kid my older sister used to have a cassette tape that she’d play with only this song on it. Not a cassette single or a “cassingle.” A 60 or possibly 90 minute cassette with this song recorded over and over and over.

Chic – “Good Times,” heard via an AM transistor radio.

Herbie Hancock – “Chameleon.” I had never heard a bass sound like this before, part 1.

One Way – “Cutie Pie.” I’d never heard a bass sound like this before, part 2.

IRT – “Watch the Closing Doors.” I taped it off the radio while in search of rap music.

Afrika Bambaataa & the Soul Sonic Force – “Planet Rock.” This was so otherworldly, and it kind of freaked me out as a youngster. But I liked it.

The Time – “The Bird." This was the best part of Purple Rain.

DJ'ing must take a lot out of you. What do you eat before a gig?

I’m chronically last-minute when preparing for gigs, so I’m usually still pulling records or sorting the playlists until the last possible moment. I just eat whatever is most convenient. For me, it's the eating after a gig with friends that I look forward to. When I worked at APT,  where I was a resident for nine years, I’d go with friends to Florent around the corner for a 5 AM cheeseburger. After Florent closed it was either chicken and eggplant at the late-night spot in Chinatown, or borscht and other Ukranian delicacies in the East Village.

 How about your favorite thing to eat in NYC?

This always changes, but right now it's the Miso Ramen at Totto Ramen on West 52nd St.

Favorite thing to eat anywhere, anytime?

I would probably eat quality Mexican food all the time if I could.

Let's do a little "music" association. What is the first song that comes to mind when you think of the following foods:

Fried chicken

The Vibrations – “Ain’t No Greens In Harlem.”

Although, as you might guess, the song is not about chicken, and is only part of the punchline at the end when the singer decides since he can’t find any greens uptown that he’ll eat chicken instead. But then it turns out that there’s a poultry workers strike, he winds up with nothing.

Spaghetti and meatballs

“On Top of Old Smokey.”

Prime rib

Andre Williams – “Rib Tips.” I know prime rib and rib tips are not the same thing. But they both have “rib” in them so…


B-52s – “Rock Lobster”

Ice cream

EPMD – “You Gots to Chill”

Photos: Courtesy of Jefferson Mao

For more of Chairman Mao, check out his blog here and stop by when he's on the 1's & 2's at Red Rooster Harlem and Ginny's Supper Club. Here are a few songs off of the Chairman's summer playlist...