by Brian Golden
According to a survey conducted with 2,000 Americans, People Magazine reported that 65% of all participants said that they would have “no motivation” to work out without being able to play music. This stat rings true for a lot of people, including myself. In a workout, music provides us some extra motivation; making us push that much harder when one of our favorite songs comes on.
Sound tracking your warm-ups and cool downs can also heighten your experience at the gym. Positive messages and songs you love can keep that endorphin-high going long after the actual workout. That’s why when creating the playlist to pair with the scents of AROOMATHERAPY’S Gym Spray, I wanted to take a chronological approach to the order of the songs and workout. The goal is to take you from your warm-up, with light-hearted and energetic tracks to get you ready, and bring you all the way through your workout into cool down. When researching music for this playlist, I noticed that the aforementioned survey concludes that Hip-Hop tops the list of most popular genres associated with the gym. This is how I started. I wanted to root the playlist in modern hip-hop while also venturing into some trap, electronic, and more classic Hip-Hop. I wanted to take this time to point out some important featured artists, up-and-coming artists, and describe my process of putting this all together. Hopefully I can enlighten people onto new artists or music they haven’t heard before, that they can then integrate into their workouts and day-to-day life.
The most important part of any playlist is the beginning, and Gym Spray starts with a bang. Harlem’s own A$AP Rocky is featured in the first position, with his fun and breezy song, “Sundress”. In the middle of the playlist, we feature high-energy tracks from hip-hop’s most recent stars including Travis Scott, Cardi B, Young Thug and more. One specific song I'd like to highlight is “Tyler Herro” by Jack Harlow. The Louisville native Jack Harlow dropped this in October of 2020, and it’s named after a Miami Heat basketball player of the same name. I thought the sports reference, as well as the song would fit perfectly. In the cool down portion of the track list there’s fresh songs with positive messages, like one of my personal favorites, Kanye West’s “Lost In the World”. To begin the creation of this playlist, I chose 3 or 4 cornerstone songs that could really lay the foundation for what I was trying to get at. “I Like It” by Cardi B is a good instance of this. After working in a gym myself and seeing the effect this song has on people, it was clear to me that it would make a good start. I also added Young Thug’s “Hot” as a foundation for the playlist because of its energy and notoriety. I then went on the pop-end of the hip-hop spectrum with songs like “Liftoff” with Kanye, Beyonce, and Jay-Z and “Cardigan” by Don Tolliver. I like how “Liftoff” has a theme and message that is very conducive to the gym. It's not just modern hip-hop, however. I added some classic artists like Digable Planets and The Pharcyde. Digable Planets’ “Cool Like That” is a true self-confidence booster and I thought it would be a great song to send people on their way after cooling down and keeping them in that positive mindset. The group is a trio from Brooklyn, originally founded in 1992. They brought a very refreshing and smooth take on the rap of the 90’s, and some of their music has been repopularized in the last few years. The last element of this playlist from a genre perspective is a tinge of electronic music, usually showing up in a mix with hip-hop. Tracks like Mura Masa & A$AP Rocky’s “Love$ick” and “Dissonance” by Chuck Sutton bring a feeling that only more electronic, action-packed songs can cultivate. The beats are hard, the lyrics are on point, and the intensity is there.
Living as a student in Philly, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with some incredible new artists in the area. Some only have a hundred plays, and some have a hundred thousand, but I think it’s important to give attention to artists who may not have as big a platform as the Drakes and Lil Wayne’s of this world. Introducing first, Blonde on Bread is a new-age hip-hop group hailing from right outside of Philadelphia. They released their greatest album yet, “Field Day” just last summer. Featured second on the playlist is their fun, charming track “Is what It Is”. The song is an exercise in being unapologetically you, and its verses filled with melodies and swagger are perfect to get warmed up to. The members of their group consist of Hue Hinton, Truth Ingram, Thomas King, and Alex Snyder. Another up-and-comer I’d like to highlight is Chuck Sutton. Chuck is a master music producer, rapper, and singer with quite the following right now. I placed his song “Dissonance” right at the tail end of the workout section of the playlist for its driving beat and motivating lyrics. Chuck Sings, “It’s a long, long way before I sit down; I don’t care if I can see it put my head down”. The song is a great motivator and I believe that Chuck Sutton will become a constant in the music industry in the near future, he sure sounds like it. Rounding out our new artist list is Philadelphia’s own Goldmine, a 20-year-old rapper & producer. His song “Rocky” is a great pump-up track and it references the famous boxing movies of the same title. I’m glad that I was able to put these artists in the mix and spotlight them along with more established and seasoned acts.
This playlist is unique in its comprehensiveness. It is truly designed to soundtrack every single aspect of the gym and it’s extremely practical because of this. To break it down, I would consider the first five to six songs to be warm up. “Really Got It” by Jearraeu is what I think of as a transitional song. It takes us from warm up to the workout by easing you into it, not just starting with the most intense songs. Then, the intensity slowly builds with each track adding onto the next and so forth. At around sixteen or seventeen tracks in is when the intensity peaks and it starts to wind down. “Déjà vu” by Post Malone and Justin Bieber plays as the energy starts to wind down. I think this song will attract some different fan-bases than most other tracks on the playlist. It ends with Kanye’s beautiful song “Lost in the World''. I think it does a good job wrapping up the journey. This playlist was a ton of fun to create and I’m excited to see people utilize it in their gym routine.
Click to listen to our HIP-HOP ENDORPHIN HIGH playlist on Spotify!