Labor Day Weekend is upon us, which means you still have a few more weeks to throw a pool party, host a dinner, sip a few cocktails on your balcony, all while listening to a playlist you actually like. And who better to help you craft said ‘End of Summer’ playlist than everyone’s favorite DJ, Mick Batyske (although he’s pretty mononymous, often going by just Mick). With experience spinning at various Grammy afterparties and every cool vacation spot you can think of—Cannes, the Hamptons, Davos, etc.—he truly is our guru for good summer tunes.
It seems obvious, but start with something summery.
“I like to start with a couple of songs that reference warm weather or summer or sunshine,” says Mick. The point of that is to capture the right vibe, which according to the DJ should feel light and vibey but not ever heavy. Basically, save the Pearl Jam for your fall and winter playlists and instead seek out tunes that are inherently more upbeat. Which means “Dear Summer” from Jay-Z is always a good idea.
Then add in some crowd favorites.
You’d be pretty pressed to find someone who doesn’t enjoy classic R&B, so throw on a few of those. “I Wish” by Skee-Lo is always a crowd-pleaser, as is TK. Mick likes to add in ‘90s hip-hop, like “It Was a Good Day” by Ice Cube or anything from the Beastie Boys in addition to a more recent throwback: “The whole Kygo era from a couple years ago always works,” he says. And one more genre people have been loving lately? “Afrobeat.”
Consider adding one of Mick’s current favorites.
“Essence” by Wizkid. “I’ve just started to play it,” our DJ admits, “and I’ve played it at a few gigs I’ve done over the last week.” If it’s good enough for our pro to put on repeat, trust that even your AUX cord hogging friend will be impressed.
Stay away from any song that’s popular on dance TikTok.
Mick didn’t want to name any names when it came to songs he’s not loving at the moment, but he did impart us with this: “If it has a dance to it I’m not putting it on.” And that’s one rule we think everyone should live by.
Don’t skimp on length.
Consider the purpose for your playlist and make it slightly longer than you think it needs to be. Mick makes his fiancée a cooking playlist that stands at 35 minutes but what’s the sweet spot for a party or a barbeque? “Two to three hours is good,” he notes.
Now that you’ve got a playlist, it’s time to do some mixing of your own.
You could go the amateur route and hit shuffle—or you could make like a DJ and put all the songs on your playlist in a purposeful order that actually has a nice flow to it. The simplest way to do that? Couple like songs together and link them. “If you’re doing a couple of afrobeat songs, they should go together,” says Mick. “If you’re doing reggae songs, they should go together. And if you’re doing reggae songs that have a little hip-hop, try to find a song that’s kind of both reggae and hip hop as a buffer.” Of course, this isn’t a hard and fast rule but it is Mick’s preferred way of working.
Finally, don’t forget to give your summer playlist an epic name.
We’re not talking about “Summer 2021” or “~Vibes~.” The entrepreneur and DJ expert even suggests keeping SEO in mind. “Tie it into something people are searching,” he suggests. “And if you’re a known creator, put your name in it because people are gonna see that before they see your account name.”