Hello. Before we begin this article, I have something to say, because Deep Cuts isn’t just an article series with guests, it’s also a team of people I love and respect. One of those people lives in Palestine, where Palestinians have been and are violently oppressed under an ongoing occupation that has been misreported and misidentified by our media here in the UK. If you want to read about what’s really happening, here is the link you need.
So here we are, Deep Cuts article #13: Sexy, with a variety of responses to its prompt question ‘What music makes you want to get dowwwn / sounds like getting dowwwn?’ It would have been nice to put this article out with a clear head, looking towards the end of lockdown and waking up with no messages about human rights violations on my phone. I don't know, maybe it’s right to put this article out now, as the music shared within does not simply look at sex, it looks at vulnerability, connection, honesty. I think now of a quote from the graphic novel Saga; ‘the opposite of war is fucking.’
I hope you enjoy this article, which - as with all Deep Cuts articles - is a conversation between diverse voices, a celebration of the things that connect us (check out the other articles here). As always, tracks from each contribution are gathered in the mix below, their timestamp highlighted in this colour in the article, and all Spotify-able tracks are gathered in the playlist linked here. Thank you to everyone who contributed (including Giulia who suggested the theme), to Trav for the artwork, and to all the musicians who remind us of our humanity. Much love.
Produced by Boi1da, so repping Toronto oh yeah! The theme of this song isn't really sexy but the production and her vocals immediately gives me sensual vibes. Never fails. So hard yet so smooth.
Originally written and performed by Prince, but honestly this is one of my favourite TLC tracks. Not their most popular by any means but the groove is just nasty. And T-Boz has the perfect sexy vocal tone to go with it. [If I Was Your Girlfriend appears at 0:00 in the Deep Cuts: Sexy mix]
Sampled by many, including Biggie, this is a classic sexy track. The title says it all! This funky family from Ohio has one of the best catalogues to groove to, and Ron Isley delivered the same energy as a solo artist for the younger generations.
Such a hard choice. Jodeci has so many sexy songs, but this was my first introduction to them and it sure left an impression. They embodied that theme in almost everything they delivered, and Devonte Swing was a producer extraordinaire! Timbaland came up under him so you know he was on another level. K-Ci and JoJo delivered the crooning gospel vocals. Freek N You, Feenin and Come & Talk to Me are all great sexy tunes in this category as well.
Part of the classic New Jack Swing group Guy, Aaron Hall also had gospel roots that transformed into late night silk. This track was a solo effort, featured on the classic Juice movie soundtrack (starring Tupac). New Jack mid-tempo and always transports me back to the early 90s.
Teena has one of the most soulful and funkiest voices and her catalogue is extensive. She worked closely with Rick James, but was also a writer and instrumentalist and so frickin' talented in her own right. After hearing her, many would be so surprised to see how small in stature she was... and perhaps that she wasn't black! So happy I got to see her in concert with my mom in my home state of Maryland before she passed.
Another great combination of sensual vocals and crazy production. The kind that instantly makes you do the sexy two-step. Before hitting it big with Thong Song, Sisqo led this group from Baltimore, Maryland and delivered sexy R&B classics like this. Their track Beauty is also a great runner-up in this category.
Part of the group Rotary Connection, mother of actress Maya Rudolph, queen of the whistle register, hitting these high notes way before Mariah. This track was also sampled by A Tribe Called Quest for Lyrics to Go. Not only her angelic voice but also the orchestration and bass line on this song is perfect as well.
This version of Lil Sumthin from the ‘Love Jones’ soundtrack is an instant late night classic. Maxwell's entire debut album is quite sensual. His satin falsetto and big afro was everything. I definitely grabbed a big poster when I was interning at Universal marketing department in Maryland at the time. Saw him in concert and needless to say, there were plenty of panties flying through the air! The track Fortunate is also a great runner-up!
Until the end of time, I'll be there for you! By far my favorite Prince track! The lyrics, the production and his voice! I love Prince when he's in his sexy falsetto pocket. One of the best slow jamz EVERRRRRR! Period.
Pursuit Grooves is a Toronto-based DJ, musician, visual artist and educator, who runs a beatmaking event named Loop Sessions; 1 vinyl, 5 minutes to sample, 3 hours to create. Her recent guest mix for Moxie's NTS show is an absolute killer, it appears at 37:50 in this show.
Ted Lavis Coward
When I think of sexy music, I think of my archived “bent” playlist on Spotify. Looking back with a little more musical knowledge than I had six or seven years ago, I notice this playlist curated specifically for getting railed has one musician appearing multiple times – Dev Hynes. His work as a producer in the first half of the 2010s was distinct, and music that I gravitated toward during the early days of having sex. From his production on indie favourites Everything Is Embarrassing by Sky Ferreira and Losing You by Solange, and underappreciated gems like Flatline from the original Sugababes lineup, Hours by FKA twigs, the queen of sexual tunes, and All That by Carly Rae Jepsen – his sound permeated music of that era and also creeped its way into my sex life. Nowadays, the song that I seem to always return to when finding something to play to muffle my moans and drown out my housemates chatting is It Is What It Is [3:30] from his own 2013 album Cupid Deluxe, released as Blood Orange.
Joined by singer Samantha Urbani, their voices intertwine in melodic murmurs. When lyrics are too clear they can pull you out of a sexual encounter, but grasping a few lines as you build an orgasm can occasionally enrich the experience. I hear the first lyrics every time – “I’ve kept it open” – as my body is open, legs around some dude’s waist. Sometimes I can make out something about “Soho nights”. Although the track is written about Hynes falling into a depression after achieving his dream of moving to New York, with it not quite living up to his expectations, the Soho I hear is the London one where I met the guy who’s now in my bed and not Soho, the neighbourhood in Manhattan. The queer affectations of his voice are distinguishable despite the reverb, and it feels heady and appropriate as I spill poppers over my sheets and try not to worry about stains on the Egyptian cotton.
The music I listen to when I have sex now has evolved somewhat. The one album I consistently gravitate towards is Our Love, the 2014 album by Canadian musician Dan Snaith, released under the moniker Caribou. Our Love has similar indistinct lyrics but a far heavier bassline, probably reflecting the type of sex I’m having now I’m more confident in the bedroom. Having said that, revisiting my “bent” playlist has inspired me to remake it, and I’m sure, just as it did back in the day, it will contain a few tracks from Dev Hynes, and of course, It Is What It Is.
The overall feeling is one of lust, love, desire and attraction, confusion and curiosity.
Music has a deep place in my heart and my being. My partner says that I even relate my feelings to it and that I understand the world, objects and the people around me through sounds. Writing about this subject has been very interesting for me because I feel that I really link the two things together, sex and music.
To begin, I wanted to select tracks that I hear when clubbing as the cocktail of substances in my bloodstream often makes me feel a certain sexual desire in relation to the dance music and atmosphere. However, I have a feeling that there is something more about the structure and science of this music that provokes a feeling of sexual promiscuity. I think it is the science of tension. Sustain, and Release. The musician keeping things from us that we desire in different parts and giving them to us once we really want them. A lot of broken beat rhythms seem to provoke this sexual feeling because of their stop-start nature. They have an element of teasing, beginning a regular beat and then stopping it, pushing and pulling. I believe though that there has to be a contrast. Just as in any sexual situation, variation and surprise is often the key to sustaining tension.
Two pieces of melted plastic, elastic and trying to become one object. This is what I could define in my mind as the feeling of sexual attraction. It is as if objects are trying to become one thing, it’s almost impossible but the feeling and possibility seems real, and they keep endeavoring. This can also be represented in music by two elements being present that usually wouldn’t sit together. For example, Sleep D’s Reggatron has this techno beat surrounded by dub features and soft elements that sound quite far from the other sounds but create a distinct tension around the music, making me feel out of the ordinary.
The sounds above make me feel sexual desire in many different ways. On the dance floor, at home, on my bike riding through crossroads in Shoreditch, and when I’m listening at night after a day of activities laying on my pillow. They seem to carry me into another part of myself I that may rarely see or have time for.
[Kundai’s selection M. Baysden appears in the mix at 9:55]
Kundai is a graphic designer, clothes maker, DJ and producer of minimal house, inspired by the traditional drumming of Zimbabwe. He first met Deep Cuts editor Will at an amazing Shanti Celeste-curated night at Corsica Studios, a glorious session that continued into the wee hours.
Giulia / Evilbaby
I know it's kinda toxic, it's hard for me to stay away from things that are bad for me. I hope I can grow and find passion for the things that nurture me, slowly. I find it very hard to go slow when it comes to love and emotions, I find myself consumed very quickly and left empty. I want to learn to take my time and put myself first, learn to say no if I need to, be able to stick and fight for the things I need and believe.
With music tho, it's not always about doing the right thing. It's not always educational. Sometimes I just got to get the feelings out of me so that I can live my life in peace. [Giulia's selection Forever appears at 12:47]
When Will suggested the next topic was sexy, I honestly thought yes! This is totally me. I have just the right songs for this, but looking myself in the mirror as I type, I guess that sexy self has slightly drifted away. I genuinely think the never-ending trapped cage we call lockdown has turned me into the human equivalent of a sloth. Back in the days of me being the badass freelance model I once was, wait, let’s rephrase that… I AM. Anyway, I did have some go-to songs. These have either been blasting through my headphones or speakers whenever I am trying to be as sexy, confident, and feminine as I can realistic be.
Snoop Dogg’s Sensual Seduction has been a main pinnacle in this playlist for years now. Maybe it’s the sound of the synths or the voice of a man who obviously is very comfortable about how he would treat a lady in bed. Just makes me wish I were chilling with him instead of singing along whilst doing the washing. Crazy in love – Beyonce remix was first heard in - don’t roll your eyes - ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’. This remix is far different from the original and maybe it is the relation it has with the film, but whenever it’s on, it just makes me wish I had a boyfriend. It gets so intense, the general power within this song reminds me of that lustful energy where you just get consumed by the other person and you just let the world fall around you. Outstandingly gorgeous, outstandingly hot.
Back to the 90s we go, Closer by Nine Inch Nails. Now, if this song doesn’t make you think of sex, then questions might be asked. This isn't one to for me play at full volume in the car, but it sure is a secret favourite when I’m in the gym, pushing towards that final bit. Somehow makes turns me into a superhuman who just wants to get sweaty and wild. Imagine me as Teyana Taylor in Kanye West’s Fade [21:15], just throwing herself around the gym – that would undoubtable happen if dignity and public nuisance didn’t exist for sure. FYI, also a super-hot song and as previously stated, great video!
Last one - F.U.C.K by Victoria Monét. I had a date late last summer and he was playing what must have been something similar to ‘recent R&B’ but, wow. The music that night seriously made the date. Trust me, I am quietly judgemental to what people will play when I’m around, so I’m more surprised that he was able to impress me with his music selection. It set the tone for the whole night. When I got home, for weeks Spotify's ‘R&B now’ was my go-to playlist and this song brought this independent female hustler vibe, how I wanted to picture myself. “Wanna be your friend you can keep….F.U.C.K yeah, friend you can keep”. So much so, this song is now a key part of my ever-growing playlist.
Amber lives in a small town named Leominster way out in the countryside. She is very much ready to return to dancefloors.
When thinking about sexy as a music theme the first artist that springs to mind is Marvin Gaye. This is not only due to obvious tracks like Sexual Healing and Let’s Get It On, but also tracks like Come Live With Me Angel and I Wanna Be Where You Are from the incredibly sexy album 'I Want You', Marvin Gaye is the epitome of sexiness with his voice, lyrics, looks and the sultry sounds of his records.
Next up one of the sexiest ever tracks for me is Love to love you baby [18:10] by Donna Summer. Vocals and sexual moans don't get any sexier than this, let alone that bassline and groove. I opened with this track at a party after a quite fast house set and it blew the place up. Totally infectious!
I can't write about sexy without mentioning the one and only Prince. I have been a huge fan since the age 13. I love him so much!
He was the soundtrack to my life and teenage sexual angst! Prince is unbridled passion. There are so many tracks you could mention! Darling Nikki, Hot Thing, Lady Cab Driver, Soft and Wet, Sexy Dancer, Head and so on. Some reflect his playful and naughty side while others like Private Joy and When Doves Cry show his sensitive side or whatever other crazy side he wants to adopt! Prince's band The Revolution were also a huge inspiration for me as a teenager. I finally felt like there were people out there that I felt I could identify with. They also gave me the confidence to explore my sexuality. Hugely liberating!
I was completely awestruck by members (and duo in their own right) Wendy and Lisa, and have been ever since! They are so inspiring to me and were a huge part of helping to build my confidence to make music even though they are unbeatably awesome! There are so many sexy tracks of theirs such as Everyday [24:36] that I have listened a million times. That's another great track to play at a party. People love it but hardly anyone has ever heard of it! They are such amazing musicians, my heroes!
I love Grace Jones so much too and as I'm half Jamaican she is a huge inspiration for me. Pull up to the bumper is a total classic. Such a playful and fun track with that sexy reggae vibe. I imagine her as dominatrix kind of role especially with her version of Private Life. Shade at its finest!
Betty Davis: Shoo-B-Doop And Cop Him and Gettin Kicked off, Havin Fun. Well this woman is a sexual deity, warrior queen! There's not much more to say about that! I discovered her in the early 2000's. It's crazy and sad that she had faded into obscurity!
I was also known as DJ Siren back in the day when I used to play and produce Drum’n’Bass. I worked with people DJ Damage and Dylan and released a few tracks on Spectrum Audio / Alphamagic. A favorite track from that era that I consider to be sexy would be Nasty Ways by Dillinja. It starts off with a kind of cheeky RnB feel then launches in to a sick bassline. Why is another a sexy beast of a track by Dillinja. His music is bass sex!
In terms of what i'm playing a lot of right now, I'm gonna go for Radioactive Man's Old Tight Selektah e.p You bring it, we'll wing it. It's a dubby, slow jam electro track with a proper sleazy bassline. Keith is such an awesome artist and a lovely person. I've been fortunate to get to know Keith and his lovely partner Kirsti as they moved to Hastings a few years ago along with Curved Pressings. It was amazing to have my album mastered by Keith! They have also played at my Hybrid events too, so awesome!
Carl Finlow is another master producer and makes some sexy electro. His latest album Apparatus is definately worth checking! I love the sleezy vibe of Quandry.
Nice and dark with those warm synth sounds. Black Ice on his Obscura e.p is another lush track with that sexy bassline!
So many artists have a strong sexual energy which is part of their allure. All of the greats such as Bowie, Hendrix, Freddie Mercury etc. I could go on about this theme for days not to mention the romantic moments in my life that music has punctuated but I'll keep those special memories to myself!
Kim Cosmik is a fantastic DJ and bonafide rave legend and Deep Cuts team member who provided the mix mix for Deep Cuts: Euphoric Apocalyptica. Check out her Rave Memories piece for more of her 90s rave yarns.
Sexy. Right. Obviously this is a bit different to the other deep cuts articles so far. We don’t any prompts like ‘what music makes you want to dance’ or ‘makes you want to work out’ or ‘makes you want to go for a drive’, the experiences we talk about in deep cuts tend to be more focussed on feelings than activities. What music feels like this. But the theme of music that sounds sexy, music that makes you want to have sex - or as the theme’s creator Giulia Tomassi put it, ‘to get down’ - that music is such an interesting, subjective thing.
One of my favourite tracks that actually kind of sounds like sex is named New & Physical [27:16], produced by my close friend Angus and unreleased until now. We’re premiering it as part of this article, because the track naturally came up when I was recording the Deep Cuts: Sexy mix, it fit with the other tracks so well in terms of mood, key, tempo. I love how uses tropes from a genre that I’ve always found sexy; Dubstep. Take Joker’s remix of Cruel Intentions, that is a very seductive, naughty tune. I asked Jack Woodward, a Dubstep producer, to share some sexy Dubstep tracks for this article. His response was that Dubstep is the last genre he would think of as Sexy.
In the midst of lockdown 3, I asked Angus ‘what music is sexy?’. It was a really fun and funny process going through his responses, some of the first tracks sounded wrong to me, too sugary sweet (just as the majority of Dubstep is probably too dark to be considered sexy). However, some of the tracks Angus shared, like Louder by Brook Baili [15:45] were obviously, immediately perfect,
What’s funny is the tracks that hit the mark was that they also felt kind of wrong, in some way. Not wrong in a musical sense, but wrong in that the lyrics or music video contained something a bit off, just as the first track in Pursuit Grooves’ contribution has what she describes as an ‘unsexy subject’. I personally suggested Vossi Bop by Stormzy [6:00], a disarmingly confident track with an absolutely devious beat, whose hook describes Stormzy seducing ‘your girl’, and Leg Over by Mr Eazi, a track about being cheated on. I’m no psychologist but I’ve listened to enough podcasts to know that taboo is a classic component of sexy music. I immediately think of Gal-Dem’s article about the sex symbol that is Eastender’s Max Branning, an objectively bad guy who ‘a terrible father and is always teetering on the edge of criminal activity. This man has more enemies than friends. Yet confusingly the girls simply can’t get enough of their bald bae.’
In the School of Life’s youtube video ‘How to Seduce Someone on a Date’, they describe seduction as the very strange, unnatural project of getting them to someone to like you, to consider you a plausible partner in romance and life. According to the School of Life, the most subtly powerful way to do this is to accept their flaws, to make little affectionate jokes that recognise what they said earlier about their insecurities and show that they don’t put you off. The acceptance of stuff that isn’t sexy, that moment is a deep bonding moment. This acceptance is a subtle moment of change with big consequences, it’s the moment when the guards start to come down. Later down the line you might reveal your deeper taboos.
So what of my own all time sexy favourites? I immediately think of the xx, a group whose name includes the word ‘sex’ when said out loud, but their music doesn’t really make me think of sex, it makes me think of all the awkwardness and hopefulness and fear that precedes your first time. This is partly because the band were so young when they wrote much of that first, iconic album that their lyrics were plucked from imagination. I think this is partly why that album is so classic; the time before you first have sex is such a bizarre, intense period, you spend so much time thinking about something that is out of arms’ reach, you don’t even know what it feels like. I can’t see any music ever striking me as sexier than the music I was into in the last years before I had sex.
This is convenient for me as in the last 12 Deep Cuts articles, I have somehow managed to avoid sharing any music by my favourite artist, an artist whose first mixtape and debut album came into my life in these years, in fact I bought that debut album on CD 6 weeks before I lost my virginity; Frank Ocean.
Alongside Kendrick Lamar, Frank Ocean is possibly the most critically acclaimed artist on the planet of the last 10 years, but his music still has to be shared. Not just because it has relevance to my life, but also because this article involves writing about the Isley Brothers, Marvin Gaye, Prince and D’Angelo, and our generation deserves the credit of birthing an artist of their calibre. You probably haven’t even listened to Channel Orange’s lead single ‘Thinkin About You’ for a year or two have you? Put it on. I’m not big into vocal acrobatics, but I’m also a redblooded human being, that falsetto is just insane, and it’s perfect for a song about your first love, a feeling so warm and intense that nothing can shake it, not even impending heartbreak;
‘I remember how could I forget, how you feel. You know you were my first time, a new feel. We will never get old not in my soul not in my spirit keep it alive, we’ll go down this road till it turns from colour to black and white.’
Instant classic, even though it has hints of its forefathers. I remember reading a very funny Reddit post that explained how Channel Orange can aid a sexy atmosphere appropriate for some lovely heterosexual fun; ‘unless you were at fuckin age when D'Angelo's Voodoo came out, this is some of yall's first real love making album experience… so you got homegirl over at the crib. Yall just came back from a fancy ass steak dinner at Denny’s which you had to take a shit after but you don’t wanna shit in your bathroom because you know she’s eventually gonna go in there and you don’t wanna lay down work in there so you use your roommate bathroom. Candles lit, pop open a bottle of Andre, and turn on that motha fuckin Ocean.’
It's funny to read this 2012-era blogpost about a definitively queer album. I wonder how many straight guys came to see eye to eye with their queer counterparts after listening to it, hearing the sound of someone who – like all of us – just wants to be loved. I’ll close out with an actual Frank Ocean deep cut, which appears in remixed form on Channel Orange, but the original version is just perfect (and obviously a D’Angelo tribute), Voodoo. [29:07]
Will Soer is Deep Cuts' Mama.
As soon as I saw the brief for this piece, this man shot into my mind. Once you start going down the route of being a musician - or artist - a whole myriad of artistic questions pop up. What kind of music do I want to make? Who do I want to work with? What kind of releases should I put out? How can I tell this isn’t garbage? The not-so-fun part is realising that the only person who can answer those questions is you. Finding the answers can take time. Sometimes you make unnecessary, painful questions for yourself.
D’Angelo had that problem on one of his singles. Found on Voodoo, D’Angelo’s sophomore album, Untitled (How Does it Feel) [30:42] is an unbelievably powerful, sultry love ballad. It’s a real masterclass in patient songwriting. Over 7 minutes it gradually builds from Questlove’s drunk drums hit searingly loud heights before suddenly cutting out, just like the Beatles. It’s easily the highlight of the album. Hell, it’s probably his best song. All-time classic. Beyonce even straight-up copied it (pretty decent copy tho). I remember the first time listening to it, lying-in bed in awe after it finished, as the next track Africa gently started playing. It’s an unbelievable high point on a record full of them. The way Voodoo feels like such a loose, lush jam session of talented players nodding to many different genres whilst making gentle, layered, meretricious R'n'B slappers that even now somehow sound rooted in the past, present and future… I think it will forever be in my all-time top 5 albums.
Anyway. At the time, D’Angelo hit the gym as much as he did the keys. So his manager had a simple idea to show that off in the Untitled music video – lets have him sing the song to the camera. Naked. Nothing else, just D’Angelo’s voice and ridiculous abs.
It worked. Ladies loved it. The video was humongous popular on BET and MTV. Something about the extreme eye contact felt very intimate as the camera zooms in and out around his unreal physique. You see everything except for… it. Women loved it. Guys hated it. I definitely feel a bit uncomfortable watching a naked dude serenade me, but I get it. I respect the immaculate craft.
The problem with the video was that D’Angelo wasn’t a gym guy, even if he looked it. He grew up in the church. He played the piano since the single digit age. He’d never been particularly sexy his entire life until an extreme fourth month personal training regimen. He went from introverted gospel piano singer to a fit icon overnight solely due to that video.
He wasn’t comfortable with it. When he went on tour to support his album afterwards, the cascade of panties thrown at him didn’t feel exciting, they felt confusing. He wanted people to listen to the music, not stare at him the way he did in that music video after his manager thought it’d be a good idea. He started wondering – are people here for my music or my abs?
The question seriously messed with his head. He told Questlove he was going to get fat and chill the fuck out as soon as the tour was over. In Quest’s words – “He doesn’t want the pressure of being 'Untitled' the video".
D’Angelo was in an intoxicated car crash 5 years later. It took him 14 years to release his follow-up record.
Fame comes with a lot of pressure. Being hot can have serious cons and be its own kind of pressure to contend with. It took D’Angelo a long, long time to cope with it, and when he did make a return, I was so relieved to hear he somehow made a follow-up record in Black Messiah that was genuinely worth the wait. There’s nothing wrong with sexualisation, but try to remember - there’s a person underneath the goods.
Jack Woodward DJs and makes a variety of punchy dance music - Dubstep, Footwork, Jungle - as CA$TLE, recently receiving his first Radio 1 play from Sherrelle for a James Blake remix. His sexiest track is probably this sultry number.
If I Was Your Girlfriend – TLC
It Is What It Is – Blood Orange
Vossi Bop – Stormzy
Feeling U, Feeling Me – Alicia Keys
M. Baysden – Body San
Forever – Danger Incorporated
Louder – Brook Baili
Love To Love You – Donna Summer
Fade – Kanye West
Everyday – Wendy & Lisa
New & Physical – Angus
Voodoo – Frank Ocean
How Does It Feel – D’Angelo