Welcome back to Takeover Tuesday, where each week Billboard taps chart-topping artists and taste-makers to compile their very own playlist exclusive to Billboard’s Spotify account. We give the artists free reign to base the list on whatever subject they choose. The only rule? Make it as creative and unique to them as possible.
Mat Kearney is a singer-songwriter with a knack for blending his favorite elements of various genres — be it rock, folk, hip-hop or anything in between. His latest release “Money” is an upbeat ditty that effortlessly combines a carefully strummed guitar with electronic production and a hip-hop flow — just a precursor to what fans can expect of Kearney’s upcoming album CRAZYTALK, due May 4.
Kearney draws from a wide range of inspirations for his unique sound, but for his Takeover Tuesday playlist, he shows love to the sonic diversity of the 1990s.
“I’m a ’90s music kid. Growing up in Eugene, Oregon there was everything from The Notorious B.I.G. to Weezer playing in my car.” Kearney told Billboard. He included standout tracks from both artists in the playlist — Biggie’s “Juicy” and Weezer’s introspective single “Say It Ain’t So,” both of which came out in 1994.
Kearney waxed poetic about the decade and its lasting influence: “It’s still one of my favorite eras of music; classic swagger and great songwriting. It’s the music that made me and influences the songs I make today.”
The significance of the ’90s to the current evolution of music shows in the depth of Kearney’s picks. While his 19-track playlist is hip-hop heavy, there’s variety within each song from the genre — as well as the representation of various coasts. There’s the East Coast jazz-infused hip-hop classics like A Tribe Called Quest’s “Can I Kick It?,” “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)” by Digable Planets, and Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth’s “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y)”. West Coast rap shines through the timeless songs “Runnin” by The Pharcyde and “93 Til Infinity” by Souls Of Mischief. The South is well heard per the inclusion of “Tennessee” — the breakthrough single of Atlanta’s Arrested Development.
Yet, Kearney also taps into a medley of rock offerings from the ’90s, starting with a couple of alternative rock staples. The Verve‘s strings-heavy “Bittersweet Symphony” is in the lineup, as is Sublime’s Billboard Alternative Songs chart top 5 hit “Santeria.” Leading ladies of the era also make an appearance, from Natalie Imbruglia (“Torn”) to the Dolores O’Riordan-fronted The Cranberries (“Dreams”). Kearney even gives props to artists whose careers well preceded the ’90s — but still made hits in the era — like Eric Clapton and the late Tom Petty.
Listen to Mat Kearney’s eclectic ’90s Music Kid playlist below.