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5 DJs Share Albums to Inspire Hope, Redemption, or Pride

Honey Dijon, Eris Drew, Myst Milano, Lakuti & Tama Sumo, and the Discogs community recommend music that will lift your mood.

Musical Host

When the stress of, well, everything starts to pile on, it is remarkable what a record with a soulful beat, hopeful lyrics, and a dance floor full of people can do to lift your mood. 

In the 1970s, David Mancuso pioneered invitation-only dance parties in New York City that came to be known as the Loft. These soirees quickly became a refuge where a gay and racially diverse community could dance together without fear of harassment from the outside world.

While Mancuso preferred to call himself a musical host over a disc jockey, many of the disco era’s leading DJs, including Larry Levan, Nicky Siano, and Frankie Knuckles, not only frequently attended the Loft but would also go on to create their own commercial clubs inspired by their time there. 

According to Last Night a DJ Saved My Life by Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton, the music that brought everyone together at the Loft had to be “soulful, rhythmic, and impart words of hope, redemption, or pride. Love was the message.” Instead of beat-mixing, Mancuso preferred to play songs in their entirety on his renowned audiophile-quality sound system, co-created by Alex Rosner and Mancuso – sound system so thoughtfully designed it became the standard for nightclubs around the world.

Inspired by Mancuso’s goals when crafting the musical mood of the Loft, Discogs asked DJs to share a record that imparts words of hope, redemption, or pride.

The Loft
David Mancuso
1999
Leftfield, Reggae, Disco, House, Soul
Vinyl, Compilation Box Set
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Honey Dijon recommends

Stay Free by Ashford & Simpson

Stay Free
Ashford & Simpson
1979
Soul, Disco
Vinyl, Album
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1979 was the best year of disco and this album, for me, was about freedom and yearning for romantic love, reflection through self love, and communal love through the dance floor. The orchestration of this album has an emotional resonance that is indescribable in its vibration. Pure liberation and joy.

Follow: @honeydijon on Instagram.
Listen to Honey Djion’s featured set.

Eris Drew recommends

Dewdrops In The Garden by Deee-Lite

She/Her
Dewdrops In The Garden
Deee-Lite
2018
House, Techno, Downtempo, Hip Hop, Breakbeat
Vinyl, Album, Reissue
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Deee-Lite’s third and final album, Dewdrops In The Garden, was an ambitious effort aimed at encapsulating the American rave underground as it existed at the time: full of hope, psychedelic love, beauty, and contradiction. All the songs are an ecstatic blend of house, jungle, breakbeat, trance, downtempo, and hip-hop stitched together by Lady Kier‘s incredible voice and songwriting. The group disbanded shortly after the album’s release, but not before I saw them play a concert in Chicago followed by DJ sets at a warehouse. It takes me back to my first ecstasy experience after a rave bust in 1994, when I danced in my friend’s living room, heart-opened, listening to an advance copy of Dewdrops for the first time. My life would never be the same.

Follow: @erisdrew on Instagram.
Listen to Eris Drew’s featured set.

Myst Milano recommends

The Eulogy by Cakes Da Killa

They/Them
The Eulogy
Cakes Da Killa
2013
Hip Hop, Electro, Pop Rap
MP3, Album

The Eulogy, Cakes Da Killa’s 2013 mixtape, I believe, serves to this day as the north star of what gay rap music can and should be: one part queer club bitch track, one part sexual feminine empowerment anthems a la Lil Kim, and one part immense technical prowess in a rappers’ rapper sense. To me, personally, this album made things seem possible in a way that no other music had, and helped usher in an era in my world of music that felt unpredictable and built on a foundation of loving yourself for who you really are. This album is a cornerstone of out, queer art in the modern era, and if you don’t have it in your collection, you are missing a piece of the puzzle – not just for the 2010s or for gay music, but for the rich history of hip-hop in general.

Follow: @mystmilano on Instagram.
Listen to Myst Milano’s featured set.

Lakuti & Tama Sumo recommend

Love Theme From Spartacus by Terry Callier

Love Theme From Spartacus
Terry Callier
1998
Future Jazz, Deep House, UK Garage
Vinyl
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“can it be, do you hear
a new freedom song is ringing
no more dark, no more fear
there’s a new day that is free
something simple is the key
only love will set us free”

It can’t get any better than these wonderful lyrics as far as mantras about love and hope go.

Follow: @lakuti_ on Instagram and Tama Sumo on Facebook.
Listen to Lakuti & Tama Sumo’s featured set.

Recommendations from the Discogs Community

In addition to asking DJs, Discogs invited the Discogs community to share music that conveyed hope, redemption, or pride. The following records were determined by how many recommendations each album received. Popular artists that showed up on the list more than once were limited to their most popular album.

Want to keep digging? Check out this list of The Loft Essentials made by a music fan on Discogs.

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