What Do Great Musicians Listen to?

What Do Great Musicians Listen to, you ask? Luckily for us, nearly every legendary music artist has been asked, and nearly every music legend has answered. Here are the top names from the top five genres on what music they love best.

What Do Great Musicians Listen to: Hip Hop Edition — Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar may not have been the best-selling rapper of 2016 (that was Chance the Rapper) but his socially aware lyrics and tough-love straight talk reach right through his albums to seize the listener, arguably making him the most inspirational hip-hop star of today.

According to Complex.com, Lamar cites as main influences many of the titans of the 1990s you’d expect. These include Tupac Shakur, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, the Notorious BIG, and Snoop Dogg. He also names some less obvious selections, though, including several DJ Quik records and “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.”

Kendrick Lamar says of the Lauryn Hill album, “That [record] probably had the most hits on it than I’ve ever heard. Even going back and listening to it now. Crazy, I think she was way ahead of her time—just the feeling and the cohesiveness and the concept behind it. It was just genius to me.

“[I] Really just [remember] the videos, how dope the videos were. They were cool and it was just a different feel. It had a natural organic feel. Back then the videos coming out, everybody had the high-class, high-end type look, hers was more natural, being-herself type look. I thought that was dope, and it’s dope that I recognized that at a young age.”

What Do Great Musicians Listen to: EDM Edition — Deadmau5

Yes, that’s what he looks like! and his name is Joel Zimmerman.

When you think of the best-selling EDM artists of all time, names like Avicii, Steve Aoki and David Guetta probably come to mind, but it’s usually Deadmau5 who takes the crown.

Nevertheless, Zimmerman is a man of the people and likes to make playlists for his fans. His popular 2014 list includes EDM tracks from the likes of Dillon Francis, Aphex Twin, Plastikman, James Holden, Pryda, Eekkoo and Spor.

What Do Great Musicians Listen to: Country Edition — Garth Brooks

Garth Brooks isn’t just the reigning king of country music, he’s actually the top-selling solo artist in the history of recording.

But he doesn’t open up often about the music he loves best. He once mentioned on the ‘Today’ show his love for James Taylor’s “New Moonshine” record, and talked up George Strait, too.

“George Strait‘s ‘Strait Country’ just was fantastic,” he said. “I think I’ve worn that thing out. I bought it in eight-track, album, cassette and CD.”

Finding additional comments from him on other artists he likes is more difficult, but America’s beloved genre-bending cowboy has recorded covers by artists including Billy Joel, the Allman Bros., Huey Lewis and the News, Bob Dylan, and even Kiss.

What Do Great Musicians Listen to: Pop Edition — Adele

Deciding on who should represent the best-selling genre of all, pop music, wasn’t hard. Adele had the best-selling album of 2016, and she had the best-selling album of 2015. Billboard also announced recently that her 2011 album, “21,” has registered more weeks on the Billboard 200 chart than any other album by a female artist.

All of which begs the question, what does Adele listen to? As it turns out, some very surprising names.

According to the Guardian in 2015, Adele’s noted favorites were Alabama Shakes, Karen Dalton, the Maccabees, and Macklemore.

What Do Great Musicians Listen to: Rock Edition — David Bowie

Also breaking records in 2016 next to Adele was David Bowie, the man, the myth, the Earthling.

Bowie’s infamous collection of prized vinyl albums had 2500 names in it 15 years before his death in 2016. Thank goodness Vanity Fair saw fit to ask him about some of his favorites back in 2003 when his health had not yet deteriorated.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Bowie’s selections are the most unpredictable of all.

He mentions 1970 hip hop group the Last Poets, ’60s proto-punk comedians the Fugs, and a 1972 Chinese collezione of traditional music called “The Red Flower of Tachai Blossoms Everywhere: Music Played on National Instruments.”

More intuitively, Bowie cites the Velvet Underground, John Lee Hooker, Charles Mingus, Toots and the Maytals, Little Richard, James Brown, and Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett, as well as many others.


That’s it for this week’s MondoBlog! Don’t miss last week’s bit on drug use in songwriting, and meet me back here on Tuesday for more talk on rock, rap, rhythm, and the rest.