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5 Albums I Can't Live Without

5 Albums I Can’t Live Without: Erick the Architect

Erick the Architect
Erick the Architect (Credit: Kanya Iwana)

5 Albums I Can’t Live Without is a new SPIN feature where we ask various musicians to tell us their most essential albums, and why they can’t live without them. First up is Erick the Architect.

Name Erick the Architect

Best Known For I’m probably best known for working on 10 different projects at once on 10 different mediums. I’m the guy that has a new instrumental album, a dance album, and an upcoming mural in the works.

Current City Los Angeles, CA.

Really Want to Be In Tokyo, Japan. I want to go back there to Japan to explore Kyoto (I’ve never been), but Tokyo is easily my favorite city besides New York. I would love to go there to pick up art supplies and shop for records.

Excited about My latest EP, Future Proof, which I released in January. And stay tuned for my solo project LP debut (hopefully out this summer).

My current music collection has a lot of Currently listening to a lot of jazz and hip-hop. Been playing a lot of Benny the Butcher and Freddie Gibbs.

And a little bit of House music.

Don’t judge me for Spice Girls’ Spiceworld.

Preferred Format Vinyl will always be top tier. The process of taking vinyl out of a sleeve, putting it on a turntable and dropping the needle down. The little gap of time before the record actually begins never happens when you stream a song…that alone just makes the experience more enjoyable for me. I love that anticipation, even if I know what song is about to play next.



5 Albums I Can’t Live Without:

1.The Stranger
Billy Joel


5 Albums I Can’t Live Without: Erick the Architect


When I was a kid (junior high school), I took a van service in the morning to my school that was quite far from my house. My mom wouldn’t let me take the bus because she thought it was unsafe to go that far! The lady who ran the van service’s name was Mrs. Jean, she lived right down the block from my house. Mrs. Jean was also Jamaican (like me), and I guess we had a similar taste in music. I’d be the first person she’d pick up because I lived so close to her house, so I would hear her music for about two hours every day before school. Mrs. Jean played the LITE FM radio station and they played nonstop hits: Cyndi Lauper, Phil Collins, the Police, the Eagles, etc. As it turns out, all of my favorite tunes were ones by Billy Joel! Once I got older, I identified the songs as the ones from The Stranger and thus my love for his music began.  I’ve purchased this album on CD, vinyl, cassette—time and time again. I’ve also received this album as a gift from my fans during meet and greets on tour. This album is top to bottom flawless, no skipping allowed! Piano is the first instrument I learned to play, I innately have an affinity for really talented piano players in general…but The Stranger is a collection of songs that have sentimental meaning to my childhood, but features some of the best written love/heartbreak songs—ever.

2. Gorillaz


5 Albums I Can’t Live Without: Erick the Architect


It was a hard decision to choose Gorillaz debut album or Demon Days, but I went with their debut because it was the introduction of their music to the world!  I think I was in 6th grade when this album came out, and I remember watching the music video for “Clint Eastwood” on TV all the time!  I loved how the artwork by Jamie Hewlett really amplified all of Damon Albarn’s soundscapes.  Of course, I was too young to go to a record store and buy this myself… so of course, I asked my mom. I had a JVC CD player I brought to school to listen to music during lunch, and I brought this Gorillaz album to school every day. This album has some of my favorite songs of all time, specifically, “Tomorrow Comes Today,” “New Genius,” “Rock the House,” “Latin Simone (Que Pasa Contigo)” and “M1A1.” I loved that the Gorillaz’s characters were anonymous and they were hopping in and out of different genres throughout the range of a whopping 18 songs. I think this album has at least one song anyone can identify with, and the illustration on the album cover is one of my favorite drawings, ever.


3. ‘Til Shiloh
Buju Banton


5 Albums I Can’t Live Without: Erick the Architect


This album stands as one of the best fusion reggae/dancehall albums of all time. I think I was about seven or eight when this album came out, and I heard it playing in my house and in the streets of Brooklyn, ALL THE TIME. Flatbush is a predominantly Caribbean neighborhood, which meant that these songs were really speaking to the community I was part of. During cookouts and block parties, ‘Til Shiloh was the immediate go-to album. Every single song on this project had such a powerful message. From “’Til I’m Laid To Rest” to “Wanna Be Loved” to “Untold Stories”…all of these spoke volumes to me even as a youth. Buju’s music brought all of the people together who were into traditional reggae music sensibility and allowed them to dance in the same room with the fans of the newer more modern form of dancehall music. My parents loved this album so it was constantly in rotation on the weekends when it was time to clean the house! Buju’s voice is iconic and beautiful, and truly a one-of-a-kind sound across ALL genres of music.

4. The North Borders


5 Albums I Can’t Live Without: Erick the Architect


Some years ago, I was touring throughout Europe and I came across this album in a record shop (I think in Berlin?).  I was with one of my friends, and both of us were drawn to this record shop because the shop owner was blasting tunes loud enough for pedestrians on the street to hear. Once we walked in, (I didn’t know the song at the time), the song “Heaven for the Sinner” featuring Erykah Badu was playing.  I was sure I heard every Erykah Badu song that ever came out…so I was like, what the hell is this??? We went over to the shop owner and asked him what he was playing, and he pulled out a The North Borders box set on vinyl. I didn’t even hear the rest of the album, but I bought the entire box set off that song alone. I downloaded the album on my phone and played it during the rest of the tour and now this stands as one of my favorite albums ever.  I was a fan of Bonobo prior, but this album really offered something special to me when I needed it.

5. Thriller
Michael Jackson


5 Albums I Can’t Live Without: Erick the Architect


Isn’t this album in everyone’s Top 5? Come on, man! Top to bottom hits! I remember seeing this album on vinyl as a kid and knowing “this is Mike’s best.” We must’ve had five copies of Thriller in our house. I’m a huge fan of zombie movies (clearly), Dawn of the Dead, Night of the Living Dead, etc. My dad let me stay up late (even on school nights) if we were in the living room watching horror movies together. “Thriller” is the ultimate zombie everything! The music video, the production, the song itself…radiates uniqueness and really is the only song of its kind. “Zombie” is also one of the only words in human language that is pronounced the same in every language (wink). This music video used to scare the shit out of me as a kid… and now that I think of it, the song itself was pretty scary, too. Nonetheless, I was captivated by the dances and Michael’s take on the horror genre. I don’t need to go through each record on this album because each one of them is fantastic. Quincy Jones sculpted some of the best-written music to date on this very album. I’m also a huge Beatles fan, so you got a piece of their legacy on this album with, “The Girl Is Mine” with Paul McCartney. “Beat It”? “Billie Jean”? “Human Nature”? Is there really a better collection of nine songs? Much of my favorite albums have around that many songs on it.