Soundtracks of our lives: Athens based rapper Linqua Franqa picks us her most important records

Athens based linguist/rapper Mariah Parker, aka Linqua Franqa, has her debut album The Model Minority released today via HHBTM Records. As expected from someone with a masters degree in linguistics, the record covers a range of topics includingemotional instability, self-harm, depression and the like with skill, insight and a poetic sense of the real life. All backed up with emotive soul heavy, almost Erykah Badu style accompanyments, she’s made a very good record indeed.

We invited Linqua Franqa to make us a little playlist of the records that have shaped her as a person and as an artist.

The track that influenced you to start making music? Aesop Rock — No Regrets: I remember being totally floored when I discovered that hip hop like Aesop Rock existed. I was a latecomer, admittedly, in fact ten years late to discovering Labor and, with it, the song No Regrets, but it’s been my anthem ever since. Aes’s imbricated lyricism was a source of stylistic inspiration, but the content of the song, too, continues to inspire me to chase my dreams. I have always felt like the little girl protagonist–a weirdo obsessed with living their dream.

Tour bus favourite? Element by Kendrick Lamar: DAMN. dropped shortly before my first east coast tour, and best believe it stayed in rotation that entire month long. The cameleonic production on this record, across the board, captivates me unlike any other hip hop record in recent memory, but this song in particular was huge for us on the road, when we were tired and smelly and lost and over caffeinated and sick and mad at each other but always reminded that we could make it look sexy.

Saturday night tune? Opps by Kendrick Lamar: I get down on the dancefloor no matter what, but this track’s dark undertones and ferally defiant refrain, you’re dead to me, also make this track especially cathartic to bounce to. Plus, every rapper on this beat smashes.

And a Sunday morning record? Ziggy Starfish (Anxiety Raps) by Open Mike Eagle: I frequently wake up on Sundays feeling like my chest is being crushed, like I’ve just woke up on the bottom of the ocean. Anxiety’s a bitch. But then, Sunday sunshine, a walk in the park, a cup of coffee mixed with chocolate milk–Sundays can also have this delicate lightness to them, too. This song, to me, captures all of those things, in the beat alone but also in lyrics, which nail what’s it like waking up feeling like an alien, like I ain’t never been to this planet, and but still making eye contact and smiling nonetheless.

The Cover I would love to play? Shrunk by Aesop Rock: A weird one, I know, but in hip hop, what are covers? This is my favorite Aes song and unraveling the lyrics over dozens of listens to realize he’s narrating his first experience with therapy really hit me in the feels. It’s so dense and technical that to land the lyrics perfectly live would be a point of immense pride.

The best song I have written? My Civilian Life was written disjointedly over a period of several years, but when I heard Knife’s beat I had a moment of clarity, seeing finally how these verses I’d written separately could be organized into a cohesive arc. It also really captures where I’m at with life right now–trying not to drown emotionally, painfully cognizant of and pissed off at all those who squander their privilege on themselves (myself included, sometimes)– so I’m really proud of this track right now.

The song that I remember most from my childhood? The Age of Aquarius by The Fifth Dimension: My mom and I would bump this shit full volume on the drive to school every morning when I was in high school–particularly at the breakdown at 2:17–and belt harmonies like the world was ending.

My favourite track made by friends? Nothing to Lose by Dope Knife: The drums are simply bombastic and that horn riff is so damn smooth. Plus I love piano samples and this one’s among my top faves. The way it creeps playfully in and out of the track. Love. And to top that I also love the moody snark of Knife’s rhymes. He’s a keeper.

The words of this song inspire me? Perfect, Dark by Sammus: Black girls wanna have a hero too. Story of my fucking life, having grown up in rural Kentucky where almost nobody looked like me, not even in the fantasy books I so voraciously read. When I listen to this song I feel increased resolve to be that black girl hero I didn’t have as a kid.

The record I shall have at my funeral? As Raizes da Samba by Cartola: Brazilian Portuguese has a special place in my heart. It’s a kind of music of its own. Then this shit, this record, is so elegant and tender and sad but has this keep-your-chin-up! whimsy to it that I think is perfect to get buried to. Particularly the track Preciso me Encontrar. “Deixa me ir, preciso andar, procuraria a procurar, sorrir pra nao chorar…” So good.

Linqua Franqa’s forthcoming Model Minority LP, is out today (Feb. 23, 2018) via HHBTM Records. Pick it up here

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