10Trax: The songs behind Mura Masa’s star-studded debut album

This week Mura Masa breaks down the essential ten tracks behind his stellar debut album.

1 year agoText by

mura masa

Mura Masa is the hottest producer in the UK right now. His self-titled debut album has been with us for just a week, and it’s already being hailed as one of the summer’s best releases. It’s easy to see why. Aside from Masa’s deft hand behind the (key)boards, of course, the tracklist is stacked with some of the best talent around. Christine & The Queens, A$AP Rocky and Charli XCX all make appearances, as do Desiigner and Damon Albarn, alongside more frequent Masa collaborators Nao and Bonzai. It’s a highly impressive feat for a debut and one that’s introduced fans from all corners of the musical world to Mura Masa’s work.

With search a diverse roster of features on the album, we couldn’t help but wonder about the influences behind it so we reached out Mura Masa to see if he’d break them down for a special playlist takeover. The results are eclectic to say the least: The Beatles, Slipknot, Prince, the playlist runs like a musical history of Mura Masa’s life to date. It’s the perfect playlist to capture the genreless way of listening to music that’s developed since the internet took over the industry.

The Beatles – ‘Yesterday’

“This is just a pure and simple statement of songwriting. It’s just so perfectly metered and every line and melody has a perfect place. Classic McCartney, very important example of songwriting.”

Prince – ‘I Wanna Be Your Lover’

Prince – I Wanna Be Your Lover (Official Video) by Prince-Official

Possibly my favourite song of all time. One of the reasons I love Prince is because he’s the archetype of what so many bedroom producers and artists are doing today; playing every instrument, recording and producing everything, writing everything and creating an aesthetic and a palette for himself culturally. Only he was doing it 30 years ago. Big inspiration to me.”

Burial – ‘U Hurt Me’

When I think of what the UK sounds like in this century, I think of Burial. He so perfectly captures that mix of whimsy and melancholy with the playful vocal sampling alongside the darker textures. This song is an amazing canvas of UK sounds.”

Death Grips – ‘Come Up and Get Me’

“The introduction to No Love Deep Web is such a great mission statement for Death Grips; visceral, raw experimentation driven by the combination of three incredible musicians. This song is a great reminder that above all, the energy of what you’re doing in music has to be authentic.”

Frank Ocean – ‘Solo’ 

“Frank Ocean is an amazing storyteller, and his turn of phrase is always so recognisable. I love the combination of that and James Blake’s signature chord progressions on this song, two of my all time favourite artists working in unison.”

Gorillaz – ‘November has Come’

“Demon Days was a seminal album for me, in terms of getting to grips with that multi-cultural, boundary-less, genre-less pop sound. Having Damon on my album is such an important thing to me. This song also features MF DOOM, who’s style is a constant reminder to me that music can be rabidly intelligent and funny/playful all at the same time.”

Jai Paul – ‘Jasmine’

“The work that the Paul brothers did on Jai’s two released records is sonically breathtaking to me. It’s the opposite of traditional in terms of the choices being made, but it carries a thread of amazing pop sensibility that makes the whole experience of listening to a song like this so enjoyable and repeatable. A. K. Paul being on my album is an amazing thing for me, I love his understated style.”

Nao feat. A. K. Paul – ‘Trophy’

“Again, the Paul brothers’ approach to production and sonically how they structure music is a huge inspiration to me.  Added to that is the absolute glory of Nao’s silky tones on this track. She’s a gifted songwriter and one of the nicest human beings I know, and seeing her progress and bloom as an artist in herself has been one of the biggest inspirations to me during this process. This song is the shit.”

Slipknot – ‘Eyeless’ 

“Slipknot really connected with me growing up because I loved the way that underground rave and DJ culture was woven into the extreme distortion of their sound. The way Sid Wilson opens out this song with some pure junglism is amazing. Huge proof that experimentation with genre-mixing and odd pairings can be incredible when done thoughtfully. I also was very inspired by Rick Rubin’s work on Slipknot’s Vol. 3 album.”

Tame Impala – ‘Let It Happen’

“How does he get his drums to sound like that? How does he get his drums to sound like that?! How does he get his drums to sound like that?!? Seriously. This whole album is just incredible. It’s a pop album at it’s heart, but it bends the rules so effortlessly. Another example of a one man wunderkind polymath who can just shit on everybody at everything. I’m forever listening to this.”

Mura Masa plays Pukkelpop Festival, Belgium August 16th-19th.

Follow Mura Masa on Twitter and Instagram
Follow Mike Vinti on Twitter