Record & Tape Exchange is a recurring series where artists walk us through their music libraries on a physical and memory-based level. These are the songs and projects that hold special meaning, transport us to moments in their lives, and beyond.
Van Buren Records are a 13-member collective based in Brockton, Massachusetts, comprised of rappers FELIX!, Luke Bar$, Jiles, SAINT LYOR, Meech BOLD and Invada, producer/emcee multi-hyphenate Andrew Regis, producers Ricky Felix and Kiron Akil, engineer R. Louie, designer Moses Besong, and creative directors Shelby Narcisse and E. Their sophomore album, DSM, drops this Friday, September 9.
What song reminds you the most of your childhood?
Luke Bar$: “Diamonds Are Forever” by Kanye West. And that Nas song, “I Can.” The one that goes "I Know I Can." I vividly remember those songs as a kid being played on the radio. And “So Seductive” by 50 Cent and Tony Yayo. I listened to hella radio bro. ‘Cause I didn't have no iPod. I didn't have none of that shit. I have no iPod. So it was just the radio. You feel me? It was JAM'N 94.5.
Kiron: It's funny. It's like my childhood, it would have to be the early 2000s, like G-Unit. It was a lot of 50 Cent. Because my uncle is a big fan. So it's hard to pick one particular song by 50, but it's funny, it's probably “In Da Club.” Because it was really on the radio a lot. It's probably that.
What was the first physical record you remember buying?
Invada: The first CD I ever bought was Rodeo by Travis Scott. That was the first CD I ever bought. And the only CD I've ever bought to this day. I remember exactly what I was wearing. I walked straight to FYE, I bought the album. I was tight because I thought it was going to have the action figure with it. I was about to sell that, but it just had a poster.
Jiles: The first one was Curren$y, Pilot Talk 2. right after school, same story. I went to FYE, bought that. My brother drove me. It came out the same day as My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. And he looked at me like I was tapped. “Why are you buying this? And not the YE album?” And I was like, bro, you buy what you want to buy. I'm buying my Curren$y album. And he just looked at me like I was tapped when we were in the car because I had told him I'm playing this album first. Shout out Curren$y. Good album.
What song reminds you the most of home?
Luke: They're not gonna feel me for this, but “March Madness” by Future. I vividly remember hearing people play that every day in the summer, bro. “March Madness “was played every day in Brockton that summer. And I was one of those. Future, Chief Keef those two. I vividly remember them being big at Brockton High. And G Herbo.
Meech: Personally, if I heard a Meek Mill, Dreamchasers song, if I heard “Dope Dealer” by Meek Mill, that would remind me of home. I remember who I was. That was a time. This was a space and time for Meech. When I was living, I was 16, 17, 18 years old. Records like that. That's what stands out to me.
E: Ya’ll are talking crazy right now. I ain't hear nobody talk about French Montana, “Shot Caller.” I ain't hear nobody talk about Wiz Khalifa. It's crazy. How old are you niggas?
Luke: I said Future!
E: I'm questioning all my members in the group right now. Cause I heard y’all say “March Madness” and G Herbo. “March Madness…” That makes sense. I draw the line at G Herbo. What are you talking about? I remember when J Cole dropped his first album, that trash was crazy at Brockton High. That terrible ass album called The Come Up. J Cole should be ashamed of himself. For even putting that shit out, truth be told. Can't believe that was his debut. It came with a free towel. I bought that album, bro. Jamal still got that towel still to this day.
What song reminds you of traveling to a specific place?
Meech: Last year we traveled a lot. So we went to LA and heard “DNA” by Kendrick a lot. I honestly didn't really care for the record at first. And then we took a lot of flights. So I was just bumping the album, front to back, and that record. Oh my God. It just makes me think about grinding. For some reason, it was just like we were going from city to city touring and then he was just very loud, talking to his shit. I just resonated with that heavy at that time, it was like five years after the album dropped, but at that time I was like, “Okay, ‘DNA’ might be one of the craziest records,” type shit.
Kiron: I did this foreign exchange when I was like 12—this was before streaming services and everything too. So I had a little MP3 player, and the only music I had on my MP3 was Friday Night Lights by J Cole. I spent like 30 days in the UK only listening to that mixtape.
What is the song that you wish you had written?
Meech: Marvin Gaye “What's Going On.”
E: Marvin Gaye “What's Going On?” I respect it. I'm about to go left because you took the artist I was going to go with. My answer is “Niggaz Done Started Something” by DMX and The Lox. That is the greatest record to date. I don't care if no one says how they feel. That is probably one of the greatest records to date. Classic album. No, no, no, no. One of the best albums of all time right there. We got to talk about how Jay-Z got washed a few times by DMX. We'll talk about that later though. ‘Cause that's the internal beef. I got that.
What is the best song to play at a house party?
E: Anything off Gunna’s DS4.
Invada: The song that’s going to get everybody in the party moving… women, men, anybody over there? I’d play that Ice Spice song, “Munch.”
Kiron: Don’t listen to him. Stop. Stop him.
Invada: No. If it's a house party, and there’s young black women… I'm definitely playing that. And girls are gonna be like, “Oh my God, you're playing that. I fuck with you!” Yeah. That's all it takes. That's all I needed. Yeah.
What song would you like played at your funeral?
E: “Funeral” by Shy Glizzy. It's not even, that's not come on, man. That's too easy. I got Shy Glizzy, “Rich Shooters” by Shy Glizzy featuring Q Da Fool. Y'all better remember this. “Rich Shooters” is hard, okay?
Meech: Okay, “Rich Shooters” is hard, but at your funeral?
E: Y’all don’t listen. If people show up to my funeral today, they need to hear it.
Kiron: “Where I Came From” by Future would be a great song to play at my funeral. I think just because it’ll evoke some emotions for those who weren't already crying. Oh, and “You And I” by Stevie Wonder.
Describe one of your favorite songs without actually naming it or the artist who made it.
Meech: The record starts off very jazzy and melancholy… you could tell it's a very reflective type of sound. I personally love the reflective aspect of this. There’s little chimes, pianos. There's a drum loop. The beat stays the same the whole time. Long ass record, man. It represents various introspective points of view and they are all kind of pieced together at the end. They culminate at the end and it’s speaking to really different people. And then towards the end he acknowledges his current state. And that personally for me was a lot because that's just kind of how I view my life all the time. It's like, I always try to put myself in other people's shoes and was doing, he was that on this record. And then it got towards the end of the combination of it, all it was. And then me, it was just like, boom, it ends. It's a long ass record. This record gives me a lot of feelings. We went to Vegas in November, and this artist performed for the first time in five years. And I've never seen him perform. And that was the first time I honestly went to a live performance as well, like at a big festival like that. It was crazy. Half of my group started crying mid-performance.
Invada: So the song starts off. Technically the album version starts out with a little skit.
E: Playboi Carti! …I’m sorry.
Invada: Nobody laugh. Mics off. Anyways… back to what I was saying. Yeah. Song starts off with a skit and then it's like, damn, what instrument is that? I don't know. It's probably like some funky keyboard or whatever. Then the singer comes in. He slides in mad, smooth, and then it's pretty funky throughout. But you can tell it's like that, like that early 2000s funk with the little, they trying to get a little modern with it. Like, “Okay, I see you.” And yeah, it's just a groovy ass record. Top to bottom. Beautiful vocals per usual from the artist. And it's a timeless, timeless banger.
You're abducted by aliens and when you wake up on the spaceship, they pass you the aux. What is the song that you're playing to convince them not to destroy Earth?
Invada: I say it's a tossup between “Having A Talk With God” by Stevie Wonder and “Flatbed Freestyle” by Playboi Carti.
Jiles: I’d just play my favorite record ever, “The Heart Pt. 2” by Kendrick. That's five minutes of him just rapping. The Dash Snow little interview part. He sets the tone, like, “Yo, music keeps me alive.” So off rip, you're going to be like, “let me hear this.” Five minutes to just rap at his best. Can't beat that for some aliens.
E: My one more answer will be Jay- Z featuring Alicia Keys, “New York.”
Meech: You're an idiot. You're going to get us all killed. You're going to get us all murked immediately. Nigga, you got a death wish.
E: I thought Jay was y'alls goat. What happened?
Meech: That's not, that's not it. That era… that was his worst era.
E: Someone said a Playboi Carti song. Somebody said Kendrick Lamar rapping for five minutes straight, putting them aliens to sleep. Like they turning that off. Man, shut up!
Van Buren Records Portrait by Carlvin Medar